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Can I stain a deck that was painted?

The previous owners of my home painted the deck with paint that was not appropriate for the job. The paint is peeling off in large sheets. I would like to remove the paint and replace it with a solid stain (which, as I understand is more appropriate for the job).

Is it okay to stain a surface that has been painted? If so, what do I need to do to make sure the stain lasts as long as possible? Thanks for any help you can give!

Re: Can I stain a deck that was painted?


You certainly can use solid hide stain on a deck that was previously painted. You can even go over the previous deck paint, but the stain adhesion is going to be no better than that of the original paint to which the new stain is stuck. It is best to remove the old finish and start anew.

Decks are built in such a way that it is almost impossible to keep some mositure from getting into the wood. Ideally, each board should be primed and stained before assembly. In the real world, that is seldom done. Also, once assembled, such things as end butt joints cannot be stained. Additionally, most decks are fastened down with face screws which are over-torqued, forming little craters which catch and hold water.

Stains allow that moisture which has worked its way into the wood to slowly respire outward without breaking the stain's bond. A full bodied paint is far less able to do this. This is why it peels.

Solid hide stains give far better protection to the wood than semi-transparent stains, as it blocks the sun's UV rays better. It does, however, not let the beauty of the wood grain show through. Should you have some minor peeling in the future, solid hide stains are also much easier to touch-up than semi-transparent stains.

After removing the old finish from you deck, it is a good idea to check that the grain of the wood has been opened and does not still exhibit "mill glaze". Simply sprinkle water on your deck and observe that the water immediately penetrates into the wood. If it does not penetrate, but merely sits on the surface, your stain will also not penetrate! If it does not bond, it will look great now, but fail by next year!

Many stains are self-priming, but follow the manufacturer's directions. Cedar and redwood often have high amounts of tannic acid and a primer which blocks its bleedthrough is recommended.

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