person staining a deck using a paint brush

Decks can be an attractive outdoor feature of any home, but they require maintenance. Two ways of maintaining a deck include staining or painting it. The average cost to paint or stain a deck is $700 to $1,150 with most spending about $850. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and it’s worthwhile to find out what influences the costs of each.

The Cost to Paint a Deck

Before buying the paint, you need to know the size of the deck so you can buy the correct amount of paint for the coverage required. You do this by calculating the square footage and then finding out the average coverage of the exterior paint you intend to use.

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The average coverage of exterior paint is between 250 and 400 square foot per gallon. You should then buy a bit extra to allow for spillage and the possibility of needing many coats. The average deck size is 300-400 square feet, so one gallon will likely be sufficient for each coat. If you want to do several coats, you should additional paint. The cost of paint is typically between $50 and $100 depending on the quality of paint you choose.

The Cost to Stain a Deck

The cost and coverage of exterior wood stain is similar to that of paint. However, you will probably not need to do many coats, as many people choose stain so that they can retain the natural pattern or texture of the wood.

The total cost of staining your deck could be as little as $40, even when you choose a premium stain. It should be noted, however, that staining a deck has to be done every couple of years. Paint is the more durable choice, so longterm costs for staining will add up.

Additional Project Costs

Don’t forget that before you paint or stain a deck, you may consider treating the material with anti-infestation or anti-mold chemicals. A primer may also be needed before painting.

When doing the project yourself it’s also important to consider painting supplies such as brushes, rollers, paint trays, rags, and drop cloths. These supplies are important to consider and often missed when estimating.

Repair Costs

Before painting or staining is a perfect time to conduct any repairs the deck may need since new deck boards and balusters will blend right in with the rest of the deck after being finished. Use our deck flooring estimation calculator to estimate how many boards are needed to repair a section of flooring and look for any balusters that may need to be replaced.

Project Preparation

Before starting the project it’s important to thoroughly clean the surfacer to allow a good adhesion of the paint/stain and to get a quality finish.

Using a Pressure Washer

Using a pressure washer is a great way to clean the surface of the deck, but beware, using too powerful a pressure or the wrong selection tool can damage your wood. You might already have a power-washer, but if you don’t have one consider renting one.

The average cost for a medium duty pressure washer is roughly $70 per day. Renting on the weekend is a good time to consolidate all the power-washing jobs you need to do, as you can probably devote more time to it.

Thorough Cleaning

Depending on the condition of your deck, you might be able to get away with a simple clean. Take an outdoor brush with a good quality synthetic bristle, and some cleaning solution that will not damage the type of decking you have.

Always carefully check the label to make sure the solution is suitable for the purpose. A synthetic bristle is hardier than a natural one, as some natural bristles may be dissolved by the cleaning solution you use.

Labor Costs

If you want to hire a professional, labor costs will likely cost a few hundred dollars as staining or painting a deck can be a solid day’s work. The average price of labor is $40 per hour, and the entire process might be six hours or more.

Labor rates vary in different parts of the country and some contractors charge more than others so we recommend getting several estimates before beginning your project. Professionals can also take care of prep cleaning but this will impact the price significantly.

DIY Versus Hiring a Professional

The cost of hiring a professional is more than tackling the task yourself, as are most home improvement tasks. However, a professional will understand the proper way to prepare the surface and apply a good looking finish. A professional who specializes in exterior painting will be able to carry out the project more efficiently, and likely has top quality materials and equipment to work with.