Can I Use Flat Exterior Paint on My Deck?

Emily Manthei

An outdoor deck is a great extension of family space that can accommodate sunbathing, barbecues, and major foot traffic. It can also provide a space that is tough against harsh weather conditions and careless furniture shuffling. Using a flat paint on your deck will hide imperfections and contribute to a smooth, uniform look; however, using it on a flooring surface that will likely attract a lot of visible dirt and scuff marks will prove difficult to clean.

Flat or Satin Finish

When it comes to hiding imperfections, using flat paint results in a controlled, homogeneous look on surfaces that have been dented or roughly finished because it does not reflect light like a glossy paint. And while that might make it seem ideal for a deck paint, thinking about the uses of your deck and the cleanup may change your mind. Because of the porous texture of flat paint, it can trap dirt and stains from your outdoor potlucks and heavy storms. Use your exterior flat finish paint for siding, which will attract less direct contact and dirt. For your deck surface, a satin finish provides a bit of gloss, making cleanup easier, but will also hide surface imperfections.

Latex (water-based) Paints

Buy a deck paint that is of a latex variety, as this is especially good for the outdoors. Because it breathes better than oil-based paints, latex does not trap moisture or heat, which is the leading cause of chipping and cracking in oil-based paints. Latex paints also dry in a fraction of the time it takes for oil-based paints, are nonflammable, and emit less toxic chemicals and odors. However, the major advantage of oil-based paints is their adhesion to outdoor surfaces, which can be an issue, depending on the weather of your region. If your deck may be adversely affected by harsh weather, look for a latex paint with an all-acrylic binder.

Floor/Porch Paints

Look for designations on exterior paints that specify the surfaces for which they were created. Using a floor or porch paint will generally lead to best results outside, as this type of paint was tailor-made for the project at hand. Although they come in oil or latex varieties, the latex still lends itself best for finishing a deck.