Can You Paint Composite/Trex Decking and How To: A Step-by-Step Guide

Bob Thomas

Introduction

Composite decking, often referred to as Trex decking, has become a popular choice for homeowners due to its low maintenance and durability.

However, you might be wondering if it's possible to paint your composite deck to give it a fresh look or to match your home's color scheme.

Good news!

You can paint composite decking, but it's essential to follow the proper steps and use the right materials.

In this guide, I'll share my expertise as a qualified painter and decorator to walk you through the process step by step.

Quick Summary

To paint composite/Trex decking, follow these steps: 1) Clean the deck thoroughly, 2) Lightly sand the surface, 3) Apply a high-quality primer, 4) Apply acrylic latex paint, and 5) Allow the paint to dry and cure fully. By using the right materials and techniques, you can achieve a long-lasting and beautiful result.

Clean the Deck Thoroughly

Start by removing any dirt, debris, and stains from the composite decking.

Use a broom to sweep away loose dirt and then clean the surface with a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap.

For stubborn stains, use a soft-bristle brush to gently scrub the affected areas.

Rinse the deck thoroughly with clean water and allow it to dry completely.

Lightly Sand the Surface

Lightly sand the composite decking surface using 220-grit sandpaper.

This step will create a slightly rough texture, which will help the primer and paint adhere better to the surface.

Be sure to sand evenly and avoid sanding too aggressively, as it can damage the decking material. Wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris from sanding.

Apply a High-Quality Primer

Choose a high-quality bonding primer designed for use on composite materials.

Apply the primer evenly using a 2-inch angled brush for edges and a paint roller with a 3/8-inch nap for larger surfaces.

Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions, which is typically around 2-4 hours.

Pro Tip: Using a tinted primer that matches your paint color will help ensure better coverage and reduce the number of paint coats needed.

Apply Acrylic Latex Paint

Select an acrylic latex paint that is specifically formulated for use on composite decking.

This type of paint provides excellent adhesion and durability.

Apply the paint using the same technique as the primer, starting with the edges using a 2-inch angled brush and then painting larger surfaces with a paint roller.

Apply at least two coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions before applying the next.

Allow the Paint to Dry and Cure Fully

Allow the paint to dry for at least 24 hours before walking on the deck or placing furniture back on it.

Keep in mind that the paint may take up to a week to fully cure and harden, so avoid heavy foot traffic or dragging furniture across the surface during this time.

Additional Tips

  1. Check with the manufacturer: Before proceeding, consult the composite decking manufacturer's guidelines for painting and finishing their product. Some companies may have specific recommendations or restrictions.
  2. Test paint on a hidden area: Before painting the entire deck, it's a good idea to test the primer and paint on a small, hidden section of the decking to ensure compatibility and desired results.
  3. Choose the right time: Select a day with mild temperatures and low humidity to paint your composite decking. Avoid painting in direct sunlight, as it can cause the paint to dry too quickly and lead to an uneven finish.
  4. Use a quality paintbrush and roller: Investing in a good-quality paintbrush and roller will ensure smoother application and better coverage.
  5. Apply thin, even coats: When painting, apply thin, even coats to avoid drips and runs. This will also help the paint dry more quickly and create a more durable finish.
  6. Protect surrounding areas: Before starting the painting process, cover nearby plants, furniture, and other surfaces with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect them from paint splatters and spills.
  7. Maintain a "wet edge": When painting, try to maintain a "wet edge" by working on one section at a time and overlapping the edges to avoid visible lines and streaks.
  8. Clean and maintain your deck regularly: After painting your composite decking, be sure to clean and maintain it regularly to keep the paint looking fresh and to prolong its life. Remove dirt, debris, and stains promptly to prevent damage to the paint.
  9. Touch up when needed: Over time, the paint on your composite decking may become worn or chipped due to foot traffic and weather exposure. Be prepared to touch up these areas as needed to maintain a consistent and attractive appearance.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I paint my composite/Trex decking?

  A: Yes, you can paint composite/Trex decking, but it's essential to follow the proper steps and use the right products to ensure a successful and long-lasting finish.

Q. Do I need to prime my composite decking before painting?

  A: Priming your composite decking is crucial for proper adhesion and protection. Use a high-quality acrylic latex primer specifically designed for use on composite materials.

Q. How do I know which paint to use for my composite decking?

  A: Choose a high-quality acrylic latex paint that is suitable for exterior surfaces and specifically designed for composite materials. Make sure it is UV-resistant and has mildew resistance properties.

Q. How long does the paint take to dry on composite decking?

  A: Drying time for paint on composite decking may vary depending on the brand and environmental factors.

Generally, it takes about 2-4 hours for the paint to be dry to the touch and 24-48 hours for it to cure completely.

Q. How often should I repaint my composite decking?

  A: The frequency of repainting your composite decking depends on factors such as foot traffic, weather exposure, and the quality of the paint used.

On average, you may need to repaint every 3-5 years, but touch-ups may be needed in between.

Q. Can I use a power washer to clean my painted composite decking?

  A: A power washer can be used to clean your painted composite decking, but use caution.

Use a low-pressure setting and a wide spray nozzle to avoid damaging the paint or the decking material.

Q. Will painting my composite decking void the warranty?

  A: Painting your composite decking may void the warranty, depending on the manufacturer's guidelines.

It's important to consult the manufacturer's recommendations before proceeding with painting your deck.

Q. Can I use a paint sprayer to apply paint on my composite decking?

  A: Yes, you can use a paint sprayer to apply paint on your composite decking.

However, be sure to follow the sprayer manufacturer's instructions and use the proper technique to ensure even coverage and a smooth finish.

Q. Is there a specific temperature range for painting composite decking?

  A: It's best to paint your composite decking in mild temperatures and low humidity.

Typically, temperatures between 50-90°F (10-32°C) are ideal for painting outdoor surfaces.

Q. Can I use oil-based paint on my composite decking?

  A: It is not recommended to use oil-based paint on composite decking, as it may not adhere properly and could result in premature failure.

Instead, opt for a high-quality acrylic latex paint designed for composite materials.

Conclusion

Painting your composite/Trex decking can give it a fresh, updated look that complements your home's exterior.

By following the steps outlined in this guide and using the appropriate materials, you can achieve a professional-looking result that will last for years to come.

Remember to take your time, be patient, and pay attention to detail for the best outcome.

As a qualified painter and decorator who has painted numerous decks, I can assure you that these steps will help you achieve a long-lasting and beautiful finish. 

Suggested Products:

  1. Acrylic Latex Primer for Composite Materials: KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Latex Primer - This primer is ideal for preparing your composite decking for painting. Its high-hide formula ensures excellent adhesion and stain blocking, creating a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.
  2. High-Quality Acrylic Latex Paint: Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Paint - Specifically designed for exterior surfaces and composite materials, this paint offers excellent durability, UV resistance, and mildew resistance to protect your composite decking while providing a long-lasting finish.
  3. Composite Deck Cleaner: Simple Green Composite Deck Cleaner - This cleaner is formulated to effectively remove dirt, grime, and mildew stains from your composite decking. It is an essential product for prepping your deck before painting, ensuring a clean surface for the primer and paint to adhere to.
  4. Low-Pressure Power Washer: Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer - This power washer is perfect for cleaning your composite decking without causing damage. It comes with multiple nozzles, allowing you to adjust the pressure and spray pattern for gentle yet effective cleaning.
  5. Paint Sprayer: Graco Magnum X5 Airless Paint Sprayer - This paint sprayer offers an efficient and even application of paint on your composite decking. With adjustable pressure settings and a flexible hose, you can cover large areas quickly while maintaining control for a smooth finish.
  6. High-Quality Brushes and Rollers: Wooster Brush Pro/Doo-Z Paint Roller and Wooster Brush Alpha Angle Sash Paintbrush - These painting tools are designed to work well with acrylic latex paint and provide a smooth, even application on your composite decking. The high-quality bristles and roller fabric ensure a professional-looking result.
  7. Painter's Tape: ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Painter's Tape - This tape is crucial for protecting areas you don't want to be painted, such as the edges of your composite decking or any nearby structures. Its strong adhesion and easy removal make it a go-to choice for professional painters.
  8. Protective Equipment: 3M Paint Project Respirator and NoCry Safety Glasses - These safety products help protect your respiratory system and eyes from paint fumes and particles during the painting process, ensuring your safety while working on your composite decking project.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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