Best Wood Deck Paints: How to Choose One

If you have a deck, then you must know how much of an investment it is, and if you don’t, but you plan to, then allow us to tell you that it is quite an investment. It is an investment that you can easily lose if you don’t safeguard it via proper maintenance and one of the primary ways to do so is to coat it with wood deck paint.  

Best Wood Deck Paints: How to Choose One
image credit: Getty images

Interestingly, many have ended up losing their investment as they tried to safeguard it by using the product we just recommended. Why you might ask? Well, the answer is that they didn’t make use of any of the best wood deck paints in the market. Rather, they settled for a cheap one which is not a wise move if you ask us. 

Since we don’t want you being counted among that lot of unwise investors; we have decided to come up with this article to guide you on how to make a choice from the myriad of quality deck paints out there.
Let’s begin, shall we?

Water-Based or Oil-Based?

This is a decision that every person who wants to get deck paint must make. Are you going for a water-based (acrylic) or oil-based product? We can see how confusing this is for you already; therefore let’s discuss a bit more about these product types in a bid to help you come to a decision. 

When we look at these two types of paint, we can see certain differences. First of all, is that water-based type when used on wood just sits on the surface without penetrating but forms a thin protective film. On the other hand, the oil-based type has the ability to penetrate the wood and then protect the wood from within. 

Another difference is that acrylic paint makes use of water as its base whereas oil-based paint uses oil as its base. Many folks these days are favoring the former because they do not pose any threat to the environment unlike the latter as a result of their volatile organic compound (VOC) content. Click here to learn more about volatile organic compounds (VOC). 

While you have the liberty to choose whatever type of deck paint you want if the deck wasn’t painted initially, it isn’t recommended if it was painted before. Instead, it is advisable that you get the same type that was used on the deck. Doing this will save you some trouble later in the future. For instance, oil cannot penetrate wood that has been painted with acrylic. As result, this will cause the paint to be ineffective since it needs to be in the wood to function effectively. 

Best Wood Deck Paints: How to Choose One
image credit: ppg paints

If you don’t know the paint type that was previously used so that you can decide which to go for, thankfully, you can find out by pressure washing your deck. The simple logic behind this is that water-based paint can be easily removed via water, whereas oil-based paint cannot. Therefore, when you pressure wash the deck and the paint removes, you can then determine if it is acrylic or oil-based.
We have decided to tabulate some of the differences between these paint types to help you also come to a decision: 



Lasts for a maximum of 8 years.

Lasts for a maximum of 10 years.

Low VOCs.

High VOCs.

Can be easily cleaned with water and soap.

Can be cleaned with the aid of special mineral solvents.

Dries quickly in at least four hours minimum and six hours maximum.

Dries slowly in at least twenty-four hours.

Less prone to crack and peel.

More prone to crack and peel.

Surface Finish

Apart from deciding what formula of the paint will be used, you need to consider the surface finish as well. Although it isn’t as important as the above factor, it will decide how your deck will appear. 
So, let’s quickly discuss the types we have…

i. Eggshell

This finish has the lowest reflective ability when compared to the other finishes. Hence, it is suitable for covering wood imperfections but not dirt. 

ii. Satin 

It has a low luster but is higher than that of eggshell. It can cover wood flaws but will still clean easily and will not reveal much dirt as the eggshell.

iii. Semi-Gloss

If you want more reflectivity, then this paint is recommended. It can hide both dust and dirt which is one of its strengths. It is usually used for exterior trim to ensure continuity.

iv. High-Gloss

This has the highest reflective properties and can be easily cleaned. However, it does not have the ability to cover flaws and imperfections. Visit to watch how to paint your deck if you decide to do it yourself.


When choosing the best wood deck paint, there are two factors you must consider, the formula and the finish. We have discussed both in detail in the article above.