Your Deck Railing: Prep The Wood Before You Paint

Posted on: 10 August 2015

Properly painting your deck railing can ensure that the wood will be protected for many years to come, however, proper painting starts with good prepping technique. Prepping the wood involves the removal of any old finishes and repair of old damage. To prepare your railing for painting, follow the tips below.     

Sand and Repair as Necessary

Sand the wood railings to strip away the old finish and expose the naked wood underneath. Start with coarse sandpaper, then switch to progressively finer sandpapers to remove all the old paint or stain. If the deck railings were never stained or painted before, sand the wood just enough to ensure a smooth finish. Use the sandpaper to remove any splinters and loose pieces of wood. Use an orbital sander on the long, straight, narrow pieces of wood. Curved and rounded pieces will need to be sanded by hand.

If you identify any damaged pieces of railing during this time, replace damaged sections with new pieces of railing. Damaged railing may be dry and brittle from rot, or soft and easily broken apart. Any wood that is too rotted to stand up to pressure from the orbital sander must be removed and replaced.

Clean the Wood

Brush off the sawdust from the railing to ensure a clean slate and to reveal any holes, pock marks, scratches or dents marring the surface. Once you've identified all the holes to be filled, move on to the next step. 

Make Repairs

Use wood putty to fill the holes and indentations in the railing. Apply the putty to the railing with a putty knife, then use the putty knife to scrape the putty so it's flush with the wood. When this is done, give the putty time to cure. 

Sand Again

Sand down the railing again so that the putty and the wood itself are seamless. When you run your hands along the railing, it should feel smooth and solid.

Clean Again

Wipe down the wood with a microfiber cloth. This needs to be done until the wood is completely clean. If the microfiber cloth can't sufficiently remove the saw dust from the railing, you'll have to wipe it with a damp cloth and then give it time to dry. 

Apply Preservative

The final step before applying a coat of primer and starting to paint is the application of water-repellent wood preservative. Brush on a coating of wood preservative and give it time to dry. This will ensure that even if the paint is compromised in the future, you'll have a little time before the wood begins to become rotten and moldy.

Following these steps, your wooden railings and the paint you apply to the railings should last for many years. For more information, speak with a certified deck contractor with experience painting and staining decks like yours.