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How To Properly Paint Wooden Decks, Fences, and Latticework

To Properly Paint Wooden Decks, Fences, and Latticework

You may be a DIY type who likes to tackle new projects maybe you’ve fixed up the paint in some bedrooms, or the window trim in the living room. But now you’re looking at your back deck, your perimeter fence, or your trellis, and you’re thinking that they need some TLC, too. But what’s the best and most efficient way to paint these?

When trying to paint wooden decks, fences, and latticework it is different than painting a wall there’s more to it than just cutting around the edges and filling in the middle. Here’s a handy guide to help you make your yard look better than ever.

Preparation Is Key!

Being on the exterior of your home, wooden features such as decks and fences often get very dirty and extremely weathered over time, and trellises can have vines or other plants growing through the gaps. Move all obstacles out of the way, including plants, rocks, dirt, or any other random items lying too close, and use a pressure washer to give the entire area a good, solid cleaning. Don’t even think about skipping this step! If there’s too much dirt on the surface, it will prevent the paint or stain from adhering properly.

Once the wood is dry, break out the elbow grease! A power sander will be a lifesaver here, as you’ll want to scrape and sand away all the loose and chipped paint and wood on every surface. This is easy on the slats of a deck or a fence, but when you factor in railings, posts, and the inside/outside of many boards, the time can easily add up. Follow the same pattern for each section to ensure you’re not missing any surfaces. When you’re done, it should feel nice and smooth to the touch.

If you’re painting the wood, rather than staining it, your next step will be to prime any bare spots. Use a tinted primer if your chosen paint colour is on the darker side of the spectrum. If you’re going to paint wooden decks, fences, and latticework for the first time, getting every angle can be a lot of work make sure you check every surface for coverage. For this reason, it’s usually easier to spray these kinds of features.

Choosing the Right Product and Equipment

Staining wood is an excellent choice if you want the natural wood grain to show through, but still have protection from the elements and heavy foot or hand traffic. The stain will soak into the wood fibres and stay there, highlighting its natural appearance and lines. On the other hand, paint is more durable and protective, and comes in a wider variety of colours, though it doesn’t allow the appearance of the wood to be quite so apparent. There is no “wrong” choice, though, so pick the one that you like best!

Once you know the product, you can make sure you have right equipment for the job. Stains are very thin and runny, and are most often applied liberally with a thick brush, left for a few minutes, and then the excess is wiped away remember to only stop at obvious section breaks (like the ends of boards), since if you overlap with the stain on the wood, you’ll definitely see the lines! Remember to watch for runs and drips, and to check the can as well, since many stains only need one coat applied for optimal coverage  putting on more can actually be detrimental to the finish.

If you’re painting, though, you’ll most likely want to invest in a sprayer, rather than paint it all by hand. Think about it: you need to paint inside all the cracks between boards of a deck or slats in a fence; you need to get every angle on all sides of a trellis; you have to not only get all four sides of every railing on the deck, but make sure they’re all done evenly and at the same time. It’s possible to do with a brush but in our professional opinion, sprayers will make your life much easier. Again, create a system where you do the same parts in the same order on each section, to ensure you’re getting all necessary surfaces.


Because there are so many spaces on the surfaces whether you’re going to paint wooden decks, fences, and latticework you’re virtually guaranteed to get overspray if you’re spraying. Take precautions by masking off windows, doors, walls, or other nearby areas, and consider having someone there to help by holding up some kind of protective shield, like a big piece of cardboard or a drop sheet. It may seem tempting to skip this step, but you’ll be glad you didn’t when you see how much paint you catch coming out the other side!

The Finishing Touches

Whether you stain or paint, always make sure that the weather is favourable for the next 24-48 hours before you start a sudden rainstorm can erase a long day’s work in just a few minutes. Keep pets and people off deck surfaces and away from fences for a day or two after the last coat is applied (depending on ambient temperature), and wait at least two full days to move any furniture back on to your deck. Once it’s safe to do so, you can move everything back to its place, and start enjoying your shiny new finishes!

While not the most technically difficult projects, when you paint wooden decks, fences, and latticework, they can nevertheless be frustrating for a beginner to tackle. Do you feel like you might be in over your head when it comes to your yard? Luckily, that’s what The Urban Painter is here to do!

We have years of experience right here in Calgary working on decks of every shape, size, and material. We know the process inside and out and we have all the necessary tools and expertise to turn your old paint job into a sight to behold. Why not get a free estimate today, and a complimentary paint colour consultation while you’re at it? We can even help you choose the best product for your needs. Contact our office at 403-774-1424 today, or by email at info@theurbanpainter.com. We look forward to hearing from you!