Composite decks are a durable and beautiful alternative to outlast pressure-treated wood.
They’re also much less expensive than luxury exotic lumbers such as Brazilian walnut or tigerwood. There is a downside to composites, of course, and that’s the fact they can fade due to sun exposure.
In this article, learn how to paint composite decking, such as Trex, to renew its appearance and even prolong durability against the elements.
What Is Trex Or Composite Decking?
Composite decks are constructed from combinations of woods, plastics, or other materials rather than lumber. These boards won’t rot or splinter, and their fading is often much slower than wood decks.
A popular composite decking brand is Trex, which offers multiple options to fit many styles and budgets. Their boards are eco-friendly, utilizing 95% recycled wood and plastic fibers in their manufacturing.
There are three types of boards you’ll come across when researching composite deck materials for your home:
Can You Paint Trex Decking? (Or Other Composite Decking?)
Very rarely will you need to paint a composite deck such as Trex, although it can be done when you want to refresh its color or change your deck’s style. Wood-based composites can even be stained if you prefer that to paint.
Composite decking is meant to last for decades, but it will fade with enough exposure. Therefore, the main reason to paint Trex or other composite decking is for aesthetic purposes.
A pleasant bonus is that painting will increase its durability, giving it an extra layer against the elements.
What Types Of Paint Can You Use On Composite Decking?
The kind of paint or stain you use on your composite deck boards will be determined mostly by their materials. While a stain can’t be absorbed into plastic lumber, it will work on many wood-plastic boards. Paint will take to all three types if applied correctly.
For the best results, use a latex exterior paint. This will completely coat both wood plastics and plastic-lumbers, and will also work on most capped-composite decks. It’s formulated to withstand sun exposure and dries considerably faster than other paint types.
However, consult the manufacturer that produced your deck boards before you paint. Not only will painting often void your deck warranty, but it might not be advisable for your particular composite.
Additionally, manufacturers can give guidance as to what paint formulas are best for your specific deck.
If you’d rather just touch up some areas of your Trex or other composite boards, you’ll want to color-match the paint so that it blends into the existing color. Your best bet is to either bring a board into a hardware or paint store, or a small object that matches the color of your deck.
Pictures can suffice in some cases, but there are so many variables in a photograph versus real life that make exact color-matching too difficult.
How To Paint Trex Decking: DIY Guidelines
Supplies You’ll Need:
Steps To Properly Paint Trex Decking And Other Composites:
- 1Remove everything
Grills, plants, furniture, outdoor toys, and all objects should be cleared off your deck before you begin. It’s also a good idea to take down awnings or umbrellas to make sure the deck gets even sunlight after it’s painted. This will shorten dry times and encourage your coats to dry uniformly.
- 2Clean the boards
While light dirt and grime can get by with some scrubbing, a power washer is ideal for cleaning your deck as thoroughly as possible. For moldy areas, apply a solution of vinegar and water. Let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.
- 3Sand the boards
Go with the direction of the grain and smooth out any rough patches. This also helps to remove any coating on your composite boards, which will affect paint adhesion and cause an uneven coat. After you’re done, sweep up and rinse the deck, then let it dry again.
- 4Prepare your materials
A good workstation is a tarp that can act as a drop cloth, but also easily slide with you as you work. Open your primer, stir, and pour into a paint tray or your paint sprayer. Roll or spray your primer coat onto your boards.
- 5Work in a sensible direction
To avoid painting yourself into corners, start at the edge of the deck farthest from the door or stairs. As you complete a section, slide your materials with you until the entire deck is primed. Allow it to dry; consult the primer instructions for timelines, although this will usually take 2 to 4 hours.
- 6Apply your paint
Open, stir, and pour your exterior latex paint into a roller tray or sprayer, then apply your first coat. Work in the same pattern you did for the primer coat.
- 7Allow the first coat to dry completely
On warm, sunny days, you don't have to wait too long between coats; some brands are ready to receive a second coat within an hour, but most will require 2 to 4 hours.
- 8Apply your second coat, if needed
This will allow you to cover any thin spots or areas you may have overlooked before. A third coat usually won’t be required but can be applied about 2 to 4 hours after the second coat (or the next day) if desired.
- 9Allow the deck to dry
You’ll want to wait 24 hours for light foot traffic and a week before placing furniture, plants, grills, and other items back where they belong. These are just guidelines, however; consult your paint’s instructions for exact dry times.
How To Stain Trex Decking In 5 Easy Steps
Although painting a composite deck like Trex will outlast staining it by several years, opting to stain your boards can give a beautiful, classic look that still allows the design of your Trex decking to shine.
Supplies You’ll Need:
Steps To Stain Your Trex Decking
Trex & Composite Deck Painting FAQs
How do you remove paint spills from Trex decking?
Apply a concentrated cleaner and degreaser to the area. You want a product that’s strong enough to break down the paint but that won't harm your composite boards.
A non-toxic and biodegradable cleaner is preferable since you’re working outdoors and will create runoff when you rinse the deck.
Let the cleaner sit on the paint according to the package instructions, then scrub with a soft brush until all the paint is gone. Rinse, then repeat if necessary.
How do you strip an old paint job off Trex boards?
Removing paint from Trex decking and other composites is incredibly difficult. Anything that will eat through the paint will also degrade your Trex boards. A better solution would be to paint over the old color entirely.
Can you pressure wash a Trex deck?
It is not recommended by the manufacturer to pressure wash a Trex deck due to the possibility of damage and voiding your warranty. With that in mind, most composite decking can accept light, occasional power washing.
How long does Trex decking last?
If maintained properly, your Trex composite deck will last 20 years or more. Painting composites can extend their longevity up to another 10 years with each application, although your paint job will require touch-ups and maintenance of its own.
Composite decking is incredibly popular due to its resistance against rot, mold, insect damage, and weather. Although it can last for decades, composite boards may experience fading due to sun exposure.
Additionally, you might simply change your mind about its color. Painting or staining Trex and other composite decking can refresh your deck’s look and, in some cases, increase its durability even longer.