Do Composite Decks Stain?

Wanting to restore and stain or paint your composite deck? Most Composite companies and manufacturers claim that composite will never require staining or painting. While it might not require it as wood does annually or biannually, you might want to touch up the colour after years or change it altogether to match an idea you have for the appearance of your outdoor home extension. Whatever the case, it is possible to paint or stain your composite deck even if composite companies say you don’t need to.

Many companies like TimberTech and Trex claim that their decking products will never require staining to restore or maintain their colour. While they can guarantee their product’s colours can last a long time, anything exposed to UV rays will naturally fade in colour over time.

The durability and versatility of composite have made its usage popular.

Decks made of composite decking have become popular among homeowners over the past few years. Composite decking is durable and comes in a variety of different designs and colours. Most people believe that a composite deck is totally maintenance-free but that’s not necessarily the case. As the surface is exposed to the sun, composite is no exception to some fading or graying. To stop or fix these negative effects from the sun and weather, a composite deck stain or paint should be applied. Staining a composite deck will aid in the interruption of colour fading from UV rays and other damaging elements.

While composite decks like Trex claim their boards don’t need to be stained or painted like wood, they still can be stained or painted under the right circumstances. When properly cleaned, prepped and primed, adding deck stain or a composite decking top coat of paint can aid in restoring the colour and beauty of your deck and extend its already long lifespan.

How To Stain Composite Decking

If your composite is starting to fade and you want to brighten it back up to its natural-looking colour or something a little different, follow these staining steps for your deck to get it looking as good as new.

The restore materials you will need to stain and refinish your composite decking are:

Step 1: Protect Plants & Other Surrounding Items

Cover all existing plants or foliage before staining.
If you have any plants existing in or around your deck you’ll need to cover them and any other foliage with canvas or plastic drop cloths if you cannot remove them and other furniture from the deck altogether.

Step 2: Clean The Surface

Cleaning is the most important step in making sure your stain job looks its best. If you apply stain or finish to a dirty deck surface, the deck will turn dark and ding in places. The oils and resins in the stain will trap dirt into your decking, making it impossible to clean. Properly prepare your deck to be stained and have the best results in all in how well you clean your deck.

Start your clean by sweeping excess debris like dirt and leaves off the deck. With the use of a pressure washer or scrub brush and a composite deck or wood cleaner of some kind, all the dirt, mould, mildew, and graying should be scrubbed and washed away. Mold can be a common occurrence resting on the surface of composite materials from decaying organic matter. It is important to remove any moulds before staining the deck so they are not sealed into and trapped below the surface of the stain.

You can buy deck cleaner or similar products but you can easily clean and prep your deck with a few household chemicals. For basic dirt cleaning, use a soapy warm water mixture and a soft-bristle brush to scrub the surface of the deck or use a low-pressure power washer to rinse off all debris. For removing mold, sprinkle baking soda directly onto the surface of infected areas, then go in with a mixture of two parts vinegar to one part water in a bucket to scrub those areas clean. Rinse thoroughly and let dry completely before continuing.

Step 3: Apply Weatherproofing Stain & Sealer

Freshly stained deck setting in the sun.

Choose an appropriate and quality composite deck stain and sealer that penetrates well. Finding a stain that can fight UV fading and discolouration such as BEHR Premium Solid Color Weatherproofing All-in-One Wood Stain & Sealer or similar is the way to go. Composite deck stains with mildewcides or inhibitors are also a good choice, and any stain containing zinc particles will also naturally fight against and prevent moulds from forming.

To start the application process use wither a quality pad applicator, brush, roller or sprayer to evenly apply the deck stain and sealer over the whole surface of the composite decking. Remember to mix all products well before applying them to your deck. Do not over-apply.

Composite deck finish or stain is a high solids product, meaning that if it is overapplied it will not just evaporate and disappear. Usually, after waiting 30 minutes it’s a good idea to brush or roll out any excess product that had puddled or pooled on the surface of your deck to avoid darker spots. Follow the instructions on the product’s label for the best results.

Step 4: Keep It Clean

To get the most life out of your freshly stained deck and keep it looking new you have to keep it clean. You should rewash your composite deck seasonally and reapply a maintenance coat of satin when it looks like it is needed. This will help ensure a clean and attractive composite deck for years to come.

When choosing deck stain products for composite decks, try to avoid film-forming or solid deck stains. these can begin to peel and flake away from the surface of your stained decking after only a few months. These kinds of products are also more prone to mould problems because they can create a film on top of the surface that can trap moisture.

How Long Will the Stain Last?

Re-stain your composite deck when needed.
On average, composite deck finishes need to be reapplied to a deck every other to every year to maintain their prime appearance. The length of time can vary depending on the type of composite decking used for your deck, the direction it faces, the foot traffic and the local climate of where you live for the amount of direct sunlight and weather it will have to deal with.

How To Paint Composite Decking

If your composite deck is showing significant signs of fading or you want to change up its colour more than what a stain can provide, then it’s time to take matters into your own hands.

Painting your composite deck is possible and you can do re-vamp your outdoor living space.
The tools and materials you will need to paint your composite deck:

Step 1: Remove or Cover Plants & Other Deck Items

Just like for staining your deck and before cleaning, any plants or furniture need to be removed or covered with canvas or plastic drop sheets before your begin the painting process. Cover and tape all trim or any board that you do not want to be touched with the paint as well.

Step 2: Clean It

As stated in the staining process, cleaning is the most important preparation you can do for painting and making sure your paint job’s results are the best.

Start your clean by sweeping all debris off of your deck. With the use of a pressure washer or scrub brush and a composite deck or wood cleaner of some kind, all the dirt, mould, mildew, and graying should be scrubbed and washed away. Use the same soapy warm water mixture and soft bristle brush from the cleaning step of staining to scrub the surface of the deck or use a low-pressure power washer to rinse off the debris. Next, remove all moulds by sprinkling baking soda directly onto the infected areas, then go in with the same vinegar and water mixture stated in the cleaning step of staining your deck to scrub where you sprinkled the baking soda. Rinse thoroughly and let dry completely before continuing.

Step 3: Sand It

240 grit sandpaper is best for sanding down your composite boards.
To get the smoothest application of paint to your deck as possible, sanding is needed. You will want to sand your deck going in the direction of the grain in order to remove the gloss finish on the composite and smooth out the boards. Sandpaper that’s 240 grit is best recommended for this. Remember to rinse off the shavings and wash them once more.

Step 4: Prime It

Find an acrylic latex exterior primer, such as Rustoleum Restore Deck Start Wood Primer or Valspar Exterior Multi-Purpose Water-Based Primer. Pour the primer into a roller tray and apply the primer evenly along the length of the planks. Consider an extended handled roller to save yourself from some back pain. Allow to dry completely, usually 2 hours, or what the instructions on the product label call for before continuing to paint.

Step 5: Paint It

Once the primer is completely dry, pour your outdoor paint of choice into a roller tray and get to work painting as you would any deck. Remember to make sure to let any first application dry completely before painting multiple coats. Product dry times will vary so make sure you reference the product’s label for their recommended coat application time frames.

Once your deck is completely painted to your liking and dry it is ready to be used as normal.

How To Remove Stains From Composite Decking

Sometimes when you want to refresh your deck with paint or stain applying it to the whole deck isn’t what you need or want to do. After all, composite decking was made to prevent all such maintenance in the first place. But for spot jobs, such as places that have gotten grease or rust strains, your deck might need a little touching up.
Use mild soap and water or low-pressure washing to remove stains.

Removing these types of stains from composite decking is the same stain removal method that you would use to remove mildew and other moulds from your deck. Use a mild soap and warm water mixture to start which should remove most issues on composite (be careful, composite decking can be slippery when wet). For more tough stain situations, applying the vinegar and water mixture from before and sprinkling baking soda over the affected area should get the stains to lift.

If you were painting your house or something other than your deck and accidentally got paint on your deck and didn’t notice right away to remove it, there’s something for that! Your best option to remove paint splatters from your composite deck is a product called Krud Kutter. This versatile product will remove any paint splatter or drip without damaging the surface of your composite decking.

When you want to use composite deck stain on your Trex decking be sure to follow these steps and the steps just like for solid wood surfaces to achieve your desired look for your restore job.

Composite decking is high-quality material to use for your new outdoor project. Building a composite deck extends your home outside while increasing the value of your house. Composite decking is a low-maintenance and durable solution for those who want to invest in long-lasting use of their deck. With cleaning the surfaces to maintain their appearance being the only necessary maintenance, composite materials are great options to consider for your new deck.

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Have any questions, comments or concerns about your new project and material resources? We can help with that! Call us to schedule a free consultation about your deck today. Check out our website for more information.

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