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Best decking paint 2023: Protect and rejuvenate your outdoor spaces

From natural wood hues to vibrant bright shades, if your decking is looking a little worse for wear, treat your timbers to a fresh feel

Decking is a hugely popular addition to many homes, providing a stylish, practical place to sit and soak up the sun in all seasons. The harsher winter months are hard on wooden decking, however, and your pristine boards can soon look tired and dirty as weather takes its toll. If your decking is looking a little worse for wear, then why not freshen it up and give it an extra layer of protection with a lick or two of wood-preserving paint.

This can also be an opportunity to freshen up your decking with a whole new look – you can opt for a bolder stain or vibrant colour to add a bit of drama to an underwhelming outdoor space. Or, alternatively, you can simply apply a nourishing coat of oil to restore and protect your wooden decking for years to come.

Here we’ve rounded up the best paints and stains which will provide lasting protection for your decking, so read on to discover what will work best for you.

The best paint for decking: At a glance

  • Best decking paint for long-term protection: Cuprinol Anti-Slip Decking | Buy now
  • Best decking paint for heavy-use decking: Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Stain | Buy now
  • Best decking paint on a budget: No Nonsense Anti-Slip Quick-Drying Decking Stain | Buy now
  • Best decking paint for natural wood lovers: Liberon Decking Oil | Buy now

How to choose the best paint for decking

Is it any different to normal exterior paint?

In a nutshell, yes. While there is nothing to stop you using a standard weatherproofing wood paint on your decking, you’re going to find that constant footfall will cause it to wear quickly. Decking paint is made of sterner stuff, formulated to fend off rain, sunlight and be walked over regularly, and most have an anti-slip formulation that helps to prevent accidents.

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Can you paint all types of decking?

If your decking is new, the most common advice is to leave it for six months so that it weathers naturally. That way, when time comes to treat it, your chosen paint or stain will adhere well and be absorbed properly.

If your decking is older than six months and is beginning to look tired and worn, it’s time to move into preparation mode. To get more information on our recommend decking and decking types, you can check out our full best decking and best composite decking round-ups.

How do you prepare decking for painting?

Start by assessing the general state of it – has the previous paint faded completely? Is there any obvious water damage? Is it cracked and are there splinters? Is it covered in filth? If the answer to any of those questions is ‘yes’, then you’ll need to begin by giving it a good cleaning. A stiff brush is essential here, and you’ll need to give extra attention to grooved decking.

At this point, you’ll want to decide whether your boards need sanding down or whether you can proceed with cleaning. You’ll need to sand any loose or peeling paint, so it may be worth investing in some good knee pads, goggles and a mask.

If the surface and/or previous paint is still in relatively good condition, then you’ll just need to give the decking a good scrubbing. For this we recommend you use that stiff brush again combined with a good decking cleaner fluid. If you want or need to remove the previous layers of paint, then you’ll also need to buy some decking stripper. This will ensure you remove any old paint and give you a clean canvas to work with. Finally, you’ll need to rinse off the decking and leave it to dry thoroughly.

Paint brush, roller or paint sprayer?

You can use any of the above on decking. That said, both roller and sprayer options tend to be a bit more messy, so you’d be wise to cover over anything nearby that you really don’t want to get paint on. If you really don’t fancy too much time on your knees, then opt for a roller or paint pad with a telescopic pole handles – these will allow you to paint your decking without putting any strain on your knees or back.

READ NEXT: The best paint brushes | paint rollers to buy

Okay, all ready to start. Anything else?

Yes, check the weather report and pick a warm, dry day for painting, otherwise your work could end up washed away. Also, and vitally, start in a far corner and work backwards – you really don’t want to – quite literally – paint yourself into a corner.

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1. Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Stain: Best decking paint for heavy-use decking

Price: £42 | Buy now from Amazon

Ronseal’s Ultimate Protection is a great, hard-wearing stain for both softwood and hardwood decking. It claims to offer protection against both weather and heavy footfall for twice as long as standard decking stains.

Slip-, scuff- and scratch-resistant, the Ronseal majors on durability, leaving an opaque finish through which the natural grain of the wood can be seen. You can take your pick of 13 wood and stone hues, and each application is rainproof in just 90 minutes.

Ronseal recommends brush or pad application and two coats are required to achieve the perfect finish, leaving four hours between coats. The results are fully dry in 24 hours depending on the conditions.

Key specs – Finish: Opaque satin; Volume: 5 litres; Drying time: 24 hours; Coverage: Up to 8mper litre; Coats required: 2; Weather protection: Up to 6 years; Available colours: 13

The best decking paint to buy in 2023

2. Cuprinol Anti-Slip Decking: Best decking paint for long-term protection

Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

Available in a range of stylish wood and stone colour options, Cuprinol’s Anti-Slip Decking stain has been formulated to work with any kind of timber decking and, applied properly, leaves behind a striking semi-transparent matt finish that allows the natural beauty of the wood to show through.

In addition to providing a durable covering for your decking, this stain protects against peeling and cracking caused by exposure to the elements, plus algae and mould, and it also contains invisible anti-slip microbeads that provide more grip.

Cuprinol’s water-based formulation is safe for pets and plants, and a two-coat minimum is recommended by Cuprinol in order to achieve the finest finish. It’s touch-dry in anything from two and six hours depending on weather conditions and full drying time is around 24 hours.

With up to 10 years of weather protection, it should be a long time before you have to get the paint brush out again.

Key specs – Finish: Transparent matt; Volume: 2.5 litres; Drying time: 24 hours; Coverage: 8mper litre; Coats required: 2-3; Weather protection: Up to 10 years; Available colours: 13


3. Liberon Decking Oil: Best decking paint for natural wood lovers

Price: £29 | Buy it now from Screwfix

Liberon’s Decking Oil is a great option for keeping your wooden decking in tip-top condition. In contrast to stains and paints, the oil nourishes the wood from the inside out, reviving, restoring and enhancing its natural colouring.

Applied with a brush or roller, the process here is different to the other products here. You apply the first coat, working along the wood’s grain, then leave to dry for 15 to 30 minutes before applying a second coat. Allow this to soak in and then continue to apply until the wood no longer absorbs the oil. At this point, remove the excess with a cloth and leave to dry for 24 to 48 hours depending on the weather.

Once completely dry, the timber will be protected from rain and UV rays alike, while looking as fresh as the day it was laid. The oil also prevents wood from splitting or cracking and makes it easy to touch up high-traffic areas without leaving uneven patches.

As this is a solvent-based solution, you’ll want to keep pets well out of the way during application.

Key specs – Finish: Opaque; Volume: 2.5 litres; Drying time: 24 – 48 hours; Coverage:8-10mper litre; Coats required: varies; Weather protection: 12 – 18 months; Available colours: 3

Buy it now from Screwfix

4. No Nonsense Anti-Slip Quick-Drying Decking Stain: Best decking paint on a budget

Price: £13 | Buy now from Screwfix

No Nonsense Anti-Slip Quick-Drying Decking Stain is another one of those products that does exactly what it says on the container.

The wax-enriched formulation helps to repel rainfall, while also soaking into the timber to enhance the natural wood finish. The result is a speedy and inexpensive way to protect your decking from the cumulative effects of rain and UV light and avoid peeling and cracking into the bargain.

The instructions recommend that the stain is best applied using a paint brush or paint pad, working evenly along three or four panels at a time. The water-based solution is safe for pets and plants and, weather-permitting, is touch-dry in one to two hours. A 24 to 48 hour full drying time is recommended before loading your decking with furniture.

The clincher here is the price: at £13 for 2.5 litres, No Nonsense is a bit of a bargain.

Key specs – Finish: Matt; Volume: 2.5 litres; Drying time: 24 – 48 hours; Coverage: 10mper litre; Coats required: 2; Weather protection: 2 – 3 years Available colours: 7

Buy now from Screwfix

5. Trade Paints Garden Timber Decking Non Slip Paint: Best decking paint for making a statement

Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

Trade Paints Non Slip Decking Paint is a good option for spicing up tired old planks. Available in 13 vibrant colours, including British Racing Green, Sky Blue and Black, this paint combines eye-catching hues with a protective, non-slip formula.

It can be applied with a paint brush, pad or roller, and goes on equally easily on ribbed or grooved panels as it does smooth wood. At least two coats are recommended for best results, with two to four hours drying time required between coats. You’ll also need to wait for 12 to 16 hours before walking on the decking or moving your furniture back into place. If you’re after really vibrant results, you may want to apply more than two coats.

If you’re looking for something that balances all-weather protection with a bold colour palette, then Trade Paints’ tin is a top choice.

Key specs – Finish: Satin; Volume: 5 litres; Drying time: 2-4 hours; Coverage: 13m2 per litre; Coats required: 1-2; Weather protection: 2-3 years; Available colours: 13

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