How To Remove Paint From A Wood Deck (In 4 Easy Steps)

Painting or staining your deck is a great way to get the look that you want with this important aspect of your home.

Many wooden decks will have untreated wood on them, giving you a blank slate to get started with your artistic needs.  

However, there are some decks that may already have deck paint on them, and you may wonder how to remove paint from this wood surface.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the steps you can use to make your deck look amazing by removing the old paint!

Homeowners have many choices when it comes to removing stripping paint from their wood surface. 

They can work with chemical methods, which are often faster, or stick with mechanical methods, which may be safer for getting paint off surfaces like hardwood, to get the desired results with mechanical methods.  

Chemical Method 

The most efficient way to remove paint from your wood deck is to use chemicals. When these are used well, they can improve the appearance of the deck by removing stripping paint quickly. 

Paint strippers and liquid paint strippers are often the best and fastest way to make the deck look great.  

Make sure to only use a little bit of the chemical at a time. Most recommend testing a small area of the deck with the chemical agent to see how it reacts.

This will give you a good idea of whether you will be able to use it or not. With a little elbow grease, the softened paint will come right off.

Mechanical Method 

Some homeowners are worried about using chemicals on their wood deck. They may assume this is dangerous for the deck and will ruin the nice wood that is underneath. There are manual methods that you can use to help remove the paint too.  

The pressure washer and sander are two options. With a pressure washer, you will be able to get all the little flakes of paint off the deck with a high pressure stream of water. Pressure washer prepares the deck but may not get all the paint off.  

A sander can help remove all of the paint from the deck. This is efficient than pressure washer, but an unskilled worker could ruin the deck and cut too much into the wood, causing other problems.  

Even Painted Wooden Deck

How to Remove Old Paint From Wood Deck (Step-By-Step Guide) 

To prepare for removing old paint from your deck, you will need a deck stripper, a garden sprayer, refinishing gloves, and a scrub nylon brush. Gather these to help you prepare for the work ahead. The rest of the steps include: 

1. Prepare The Deck 

You will need to prepare the deck for this work. Protect any vegetation that is on the deck, moving it inside if they are in pots and need protection.

You can also mask off any of the surfaces you do not want the paint stripper to touch, like metal railings and the surrounding glass. Protect under the deck boards because of potential drainage.  

2. Coat The Deck 

Once you are certain that the area is cleaned off and ready, you will add the stripper. Spray the paint stripper onto the surface of the deck boards pretty liberally. 

Let the solution sit on the deck until you see the paint stripper start to paint lifts. This may only take 5 to 15 minutes. The coating will soften at this time.  

You can let the solution stick for a little longer if you would like, but do not let it dry. Apply more to the surface if it seems the paint stripper is drying too fast and you can't get the work done. 

You may need to do small segments of the work at a time to be safe.  

3. Remove The Paint 

Now we are ready for the messy part. When you see the coating lift, it is time to agitate the surface to remove the coating.

A power washer or a stiff nylon brush will get the work done. Many prefer the power washer to be on the safe side. You will not want power washer set to more than 1000 PSI, or it could cause damage to the entire deck.  

If things worked out perfectly, you could do a quick power washing or pressure washing, and all the paint would fall off. But power washing is not always true. 

Check the cracks and crevices of the deck and see if there is more that you need to remove.  

4. Rinse And Dry 

Once the paint is gone, you need to do a quick rinse of the deck with some water and give it time to dry.

If you plan to strip the wood grain bare, you would need to repeat this process again. If this is not your plan, then you can just leave the deck alone until you are ready to paint it again. 

Give the deck plenty of time to dry off before you add some new paint to it to allow the paint time to stick to the surface.

Let the color brighten up the deck, and enjoy all the hard work you are doing.  

Wooden Deck Without Paint

Types Of Paint & How To Remove Them From Your Wood Deck 

There are different types of paint that you may find on your deck. Each will be tough to remove, but with some of the following options below, you will be able to get the paint to go away.  


Latex is durable, long-lasting, and looks great on a deck. Removing it is often one of the easiest out of the three. When you are ready to remove the paint from your deck, try the following steps: 

  • Scrape the paint with a spatula or credit card. Be careful with sharp objects.  
  • Use ¼ cup of lemon juice with ¾ cup of rubbing alcohol. Apply this to the paint.  
  • Continue until the paint is removed.  
  • Apply a denatured alcohol to the white cloth and wipe up the tough stains.  
  • Wipe clean.  

Oil-Based Paint 

Once the oil-based paint is bonded to the surface of the wood, it is hard to remove.

This makes it a good option for many to use based on the fact that it will not easily fall off the wood grain and can last a long time. If you want to remove this paint, you will: 

  • Wear the right protective gear before starting.  
  • Apply paint stripper (chemical paint stripper). Do this in small portions at a time and get it into the cracks and crevices of the wood.  
  • Let it set for a bit, and then scrape off all the oil paint that is there.  
  • Wipe the wood to remove excess paint.  
  • Apply a wood finisher 

And that is all it takes to get the oil-based paint off your wood surface, freeing it up to make it look great again.  

Acrylic Paint 

Acrylic paint will provide bright colors when added to the wood and can look nice, but it is often a really difficult one to remove, especially if the wood was not finished first.

There are a few methods to help get this done, though. 

Rubbing alcohol is a good choice to scrub out the paint, olive oil if the deck has a sensitive wood, and sanding if the paint has gone below the surface.  

Wooden Deck After Paint Removal

Can You Paint Over Old Paint On A Wooden Deck? 

This will depend on how bad the paint job is to start. If the paint is still in good repair and not flaking, you can easily paint right over it, saving a lot of time and effort.

However, for paint that is showing any sign of failure, like blistering, bubbling, and peeling, you will need to remove the paint before you start.

When the homeowner attempts to paint right over old paint, all the imperfections on the old paint are going to show up.

This will make the new paint job look bad. Just remove some of the areas where the paint is flaking and looks bad, and then get to work with a fresh coat of paint.  

Wooden Deck Paint Removal FAQs

Does vinegar remove paint from wood? 

Yes, vinegar can remove paint from any wood surface that you would like to use. It is safe on the wood and will not harm your wooden piece in the process.  

Can you remove paint from wood with nail polish remover? 

No, nail polish remover is not a good option to remove paint from any wooden surface. It is only meant to remove paint from a surface that is cured and sealed. It will do nothing on a wood deck if you try to use it to remove anything.  

Can baking soda remove paint from wood? 

No, baking soda is not the best option for removing paint from wood. This chemical is great for removing paint from clothing and similar materials, but usually in small amounts.

Is it better to sand or strip back wooden decks? 

Yes, sanding is the best option on the wood if you need less penetration for the new paint and stain and the deck is flat. 


Removing deck paint from wood is a difficult challenge, one that is going to take some time and effort to complete. 

However, using some of the steps above, and saving time on methods that just do not work, will be the best ways to keep your deck looking like new.