How to Remove Paint from Decking

Whether your decking is looking weathered and worn, or the colour you picked just isn’t your style anymore, the first step to renewing your deck colour is removing all existing traces of the original paint. You may think that this is a job for a professional contractor only, however DIYing it from home is actually easier than you may think.

In this article, we will take you through the tools and products needed as well as the full step-by step process with tips along the way to restore your deck to its former paint-free condition.

What Will I Need

  • Broom
  • Protective safety gear – dust mask, safety gloves & goggles
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Paint scraper/stiff-bristle brush
  • Limonene based paint stripper
  • Vinegar/water
  • Water hose/pressure washer
  • Sandpaper

How to Choose the Best Paint Remover

It is advised when choosing your paint remover, that DIYers and homeowners avoid any product containing methylene chloride. Paint strippers including this chemical are strong and tend to work very quickly so should only be used by an experienced professional. For a safer option, look for paint strippers that are limonene based.

It is always advised to read the information attached to the product to ensure the remover is safe for your deck and consult a professional if you are still unsure.

How to Strip Paint from Decking

1. Clear the Area

The first step is to ensure the deck space is clear. Remove all furniture and plants from the decking and cover nearby vegetation with a protective sheeting. Also use the sheeting to cover any siding, windows and masonry. Use the broom to thoroughly sweep the deck surface, clearing all leaves and debris from the area.

2. Prepare the Deck

Ensuring you wear a safety mask, goggles and gloves, use a paint scraper or stiff-bristle brush to carefully scrape away as much peeling paint from the deck as you can. Take care that you do not damage the deck beneath.

3. Method of Application

Depending on the type of paint remover that you choose, there may be varying advise on which is the most effective form of application. Some manufacturers recommend applying the deck stripper with a weed sprayer or specialist pressure washer for an even application. Others suggest that you may even use a mop or large paintbrush for greater control.

In this example, we will be using a nylon brush or roller for application.

4. Apply in Sections

When applying the paint stripper, it is important that it does not dry out. Ensure you only apply stripper to a section that you can work in 15 minutes. Start in one corner of your deck, opposite to the exit point. Make sure you are wearing your protective gear (goggles, mask & gloves).

After application, leave the paint remover on the wood for 15 to 30 minutes or until you see signs that the paint is beginning to lift. You may even see bubbles signalling this. To keep the deck wet as the remover is working, you may need to reapply.

5. Scrub to Remove

To remove from the deck surface, use your paint scraper or stiff-bristle brush to scrub the softened paint within the section. If the paint stripper has been left to work for long enough, the old paint should come off with the scrubbing/scraping motion.

6. Complete the Deck & Railings

Continue working in sections across the deck, applying the stripper and scrubbing the softened paint. You can also use this method to remove paint from railings and spindles.

7. Rinse with Water

Use a pressure washer or hose and clean water to wash the entire deck. This will help to remove any remaining paint as well as leftover residue from the paint stripper.

If your deck is old or vulnerable, it is recommended that you do not use a strong pressure washer as this could damage the wood. If you do opt for a pressure washer, ensure you spray from at least 9-12 inches away from the surface of the deck.

8. Neutralise & Brighten

After the wood is completely clean and paint-free, you may want to brighten the wood using a bleaching agent. It can be very dangerous to mix chemical products such as strippers and bleaching agents, so you must ensure that you completely neutralise the deck after paint stripper application. You can do this using a solution of equal parts vinegar and water.

Again, if you are unsure, it is always best to consult a professional/contact the product manufacturers to ensure you apply each product safely in relation to each other.

9. Sand & Smooth

To prepare your deck for a fresh coat, use a fine-grit (120/150 grit) sandpaper to remove any small specks of leftover paint and smooth down the wood. You should always sand in the same direction as the wood grain.

10. Finish

Now the deck is paint free and smooth, ready for re-painting. Pick a new colour and give your decking a stylish revamp!