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Decks, steps and rails are the most frequent painting project for homeowners and businesses, occurring as a yearly to bi-annual chore for heavy traffic areas and every three to four years for normal usage.



These areas are painted frequently because:


  • They are a very visible part of any home or business where significant time is spent
  • These areas have significant wear as high traffic areas
  • These areas have the highest failure rate of any painted area on a home or business this is due to wear and the type of structure being highly susceptible to moisture failures.

Elite Trade Painting can paint and stain your decks, steps and rails. We employ proper preparation and painting techniques to ensure your deck,steps and rails look good and have the durability to last.

What you need to know about Staining or Painting your decks, steps and rails


To insure decks, steps and rails are painted or stained properly the following must be considered:

  • Prior to any coating being applied the area must be thoroughly cleaned (power washing is always recommended)
  • Insure that a deck is dry prior to the application of any product.
  • Scraping and sanding must be done thoroughly (the better this is done the longer the more durable it is)
  • Caulking (this should only be done for opaque stains and paints) cracks and gaps in the surfaces is vital to keeping failure promoting water out.
  • The application of a top quality product is vital to the process.

See options for products

There are essentially three types of products available for the coating of decks, steps and rails

  1. Paints such as polyurethanes and some industrial acrylics will work on the high traffic of the decks and steps. Regular exterior acrylics can work on rails as they have significantly less durability needs. Paint products for decks, steps and rails in general are not popular as a specification for these areas.
  2. Semi-transparent stains are a very popular coating for decks, steps and rails. These will show the wood grain and can provide a rich look that can make an area pop. The application of these products is more difficult than most products. Lap marks, uneven coatings and the constant stirring of the product to insure pigment dispersion makes this a time consuming and skill requiring product to apply. Failure to maintain surfaces that have semitransparent applied can result in a poor visual effect if not maintained properly. A propoer maintenance schedule is to re coat semitransparent every 1-2 years. Semitransparent often looks good and appears as it does not require maintenance but the fact is the maintenance coats must be done.
  3. Solid Stains are the product of choice for most decks, steps and rails. This product is opaque and will show wood texture but not the wood grain. It is easy to apply as it is the same process as paint and it is a self priming product. Re coating is required every 4-5 years depending on the surface structure and wear and tear on the areas

See why decks, steps and rails can fail prematurely


  1. The number one reason why decks fail prematurely is a lack of preparation. Taking the time to do proper preparation is vital to the success of any painting project but especially so for decks,steps and rails
  2. Applying the wrong product is number two. Using a regular exterior product meant for trim or siding simply is not good enough for decks steps and rails. Specially designed deck stains and paints are a requirement.

Even if you do everything right (1 and 2 above) decks, steps and rails can still fail prematurely.

  1. Wear and tear: High traffic will simply wear off the paint.
  2. The nature of decks, steps and rails is the moisture sits on these surfaces. It is impossible to prevent moisture caused failures from eventually occurring on these areas. The best that you can hope for is to extend the timeframe it takes for the moisture failure to occur by doing proper preparation.
  3. Improper maintenance prior to proper prep and painting will make it impossible to have these areas last. Most decks are made of wood and improper maintenance diminishes the integrity of the wood. Wood cracks when a coating does not prevent it from drying out. This cracking allows moisture penetration and failure ensues.
  4. No matter how good the coating and preparation is done on the visible surface areas, it is the areas unseen that cause issues. Most decks and steps have moisture absorbing uncoated undersides (many of these sit very close to the ground) that will cause the top coat failure.
  5. Rails have gaps and joints that allow water to be absorbed. You quite often see the bottom of spindles with significant peeling caused by water absorbing into the joints. Anyplace where wood is joined is susceptible to this type of failure.
  6. The underside of the bottom railing is quite often uncoated (due to the area being inaccessible to paint) and exposed to moisture.
  7. In climates that have intense cold, the freeze thaw cycle will weaken the coating. Much like the wire that is bent back and forth which weakens and breaks, wood expands and contracts with cold and heat having the same effect on the paint, causing the paint to weaken and break.
  8. Failure can result from climates that have snow. Whether it sits on the area or is shovelled off the area the damage is done.
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