Can You Change The Color Of Composite Decking?

Composite decking is touted as a durable, resilient material with no need to repaint or restain it. Over time, however, exposure to the sun and general wear and tear will take their toll and your decking will typically need to be recolored.

The color of composite decking can usually be changed, but you will need to make sure the deck is properly cleaned and prepared before you do it. You can use paint or a wood stain to change the color, but staining is preferred as composite decking does not typically respond well to paint.

While a painted deck will last around 8-10 years before repainting, staining does not usually last that long and may require a touch-up a year to eight years after being installed. Let’s look at how you can change the color of your composite decking the right way.

Factors To Consider Before Recoloring Your Composite Deck

Recoloring your composite deck is not a simple task as it requires some planning beforehand, and there are some essential factors to consider before undertaking this project.

Older Composite Decks Are Easier To Recolor

Faded composite deck.
Old composite decks do fade.

How old is your composite deck? Staining or repainting can be done relatively quickly and easily if it is an older deck. Due to changes in recent years of composite decking’s design and coating, it is now more difficult to stain or paint newer composite decks.

A good rule of thumb is to double-check the deckboard manufacturer’s guidelines in regards to painting or staining since different manufacturers nowadays use different exterior finishes. TimberTech, for example, recommends not to paint or stain their boards as the paint will not adhere well with the finish, whereas Trex can be repainted or stained.

Consider The Weather

Recoloring your composite deck will require mother nature’s cooperation, as you will need dry weather for the deck boards to be completely dry. This is a necessary prerequisite before you can start staining or painting, otherwise, you run the risk of sealing water inside the deck boards, which will cause damage. Plus, you will be sanding down the deck and preparing for resurfacing, so you need to be sure that the weather will be dry for a good few days.

If you have dry winters or falls, that could be the ideal time as the likelihood of rain or snow is lower than in the warm wet summer months. Exposing your unprotected deck to water could have damaging consequences, so ensure that you will have a dry spell.

Choose Your Paint Or Stain Carefully

It’s also essential to pick your stain or paint according to the preferred color or style you want.

Perhaps you have changed the color of the exterior of your house and enjoy a stain or paint to match; the best way is to get a sample of the color you want and test it on a small section of the deck first before committing to the whole deck.

Now, let’s first look at the process of staining and then examine how to paint composite decking.

How To Stain Your Composite Deck

Staining the deck doesn’t require as much effort as painting, so the process is quicker and easier.

First, remove the plants on the deck if you have any. It is better to relocate them temporarily than to cover them, and the same would apply to furniture on the deck.

Pressure washing composite deck.
Always check the Manufacturer’s guidelines for PSI tolerance.

Now it’s time to clean the deck. You can use a homemade solution of soapy water and a low-pressure washer to remove dirt, debris, mold, or mildew off the deck if you have it.

The critical part is to let the deck dry thoroughly, as you don’t want water molecules to be interred in the deck material when you stain it. This is also where you need to check the weather for that day or two days around your project and make sure it will be dry.

Depending on the weather, once the surface is clean you can either wait twelve to twenty-four hours for the deck to dry or wipe the deck down with a dry cloth. After power washing my deck during a hot North Carolina summer, I have noticed that the deck will be dry as a bone within four hours, but depending on the location of your deck and outside temperature, the time to dry will vary. When the deck is dry, you can apply the stain.

Stir the stain from top to bottom to get a good mix, and then using a roller, soft-bristled brush, or pad applicator, you can apply it across the deck.

Drying time will vary depending on the weather, but I typically allow the first coat of stain to dry for several hours before applying the second coat. Most deck stains will require a second coat so purchase your stain accordingly.

Let’s take a look at the process for painting the deck!

How To Paint Your Composite Deck

The process for painting your deck is a little more complex than staining but is essentially the same.

Start by covering or removing plants and furniture and then clean the deck using the same process as staining, with soapy water and a low-pressure washer, or you can wash the deck and rinse off with a hosepipe.

It’s not advisable to use a high-pressure washer to clean the deck as this can damage the planks; dial it down to a medium or low pressure if your washer has that capability. A good rule of thumb is to double-check the deckboard manufacturer’s pressure washer guidelines. Typically, the manufacturer will give you the deckboard’s PSI tolerance.

Once the deck is clean and dry, it’s time to sand it down and remove the top coating to allow the primer and paint to adhere correctly.

Using 220-240 grit sandpaper would be ideal, and remember to sand the decking with the grain to aid in removing the gloss from the surface.

Then take a broom and clean the planks to remove the fine dust; lastly, rinse with water to ensure your planks are clean, and then allow them to dry so you can move to the next step, priming.

Unlike staining, which doesn’t require sanding or priming, painting your deck is more labor-intensive.

Check with your DIY store or decking supplier which primer would be optimal, but acrylic-latex water-based multi-purpose external primer will typically be the best option.

Pour the primer into your tray and use a paint roller to apply it along the length of the planks; you can practice your ‘paint-the-fence’ technique here, using long easy strokes up and down the planks to apply the primer.

Once this is done, you will need to wait around for several hours (once again depending on weather and temperature) for the primer to dry properly before applying the paint.

Now it’s time to paint. Pour the paint into the tray and use the roller to apply the first coat using long easy strokes. Depending on the weather, the first coat can take several hours or longer to dry.  

Once the first coat is dry, you can apply the second coat and then wait for that to dry completely before replacing plants and furniture.


You can change the color of your composite deck, and doing so can add a fresh new look and feel to your home and outdoor area and restore your deck to a beautiful new finish.

Whether you opt for a new stain or paint it to match your new color design will be up to you. Keep in mind that either option will take a little time and effort, but the results will be worth it when done correctly.

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