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Should I Put Primer On My Deck?

No, you should not put primer on your deck before a deck staining or painting project. In this article, we will cover what primer does, why we do not recommend it on decks, what products to use to maintain your deck, and how to get deck stain to stick longer.

What Primer Does

Primer is a crucial component in the process of painting, serving as a base layer that enhances adhesion, promotes durability, and improves the overall finish of the paint job. Primers are formulated with specific properties to create an ideal surface for the application of paint.

One of the primary functions of a primer is to improve adhesion between the surface being painted and the paint itself. Surfaces such as bare wood, metal, drywall, or previously painted surfaces may not provide sufficient adhesion for the paint to adhere properly. The primer creates a bonding layer that helps the paint stick firmly to the surface, preventing peeling, flaking, or chipping over time.

Primers can also seal porous surfaces, such as wood or drywall, to prevent the absorption of paint and ensure a smooth, uniform finish. This prevents the paint from being absorbed unevenly, which can result in a blotchy, streaky, or otherwise non-uniform appearance.

Primers can also block stains and provide a barrier against moisture, preventing issues like rust, mildew, or discoloration from affecting the final paint job. By sealing the surface and providing a stable foundation, primers contribute to the longevity and durability of the painted surface.

deck staining
Deck Staining In Progress

Why We Do Not Recommend Primer On Decks

Put simply, decks should be stained and stain does not require a primer. Not only does stain not require a primer, it is completely counterproductive. Stain, unlike paint, works by soaking into the wood surface to provide an enhanced look and further protection. Paint is not recommended for decks as it does not tolerate walking, moving furniture, shoveling, or pets very well over time and will peel. Stain will tolerate these aspects much better if it is allowed to soak into the wood.

If painting your deck is something you’d like to do for aesthetic reasons, consider using a solid stain. For more information, read our article on the differences between paint and solid stain

When selecting a stain, there are many options. Read our article on the best stain for your deck to help you make a decision. Remember to stain your deck; do not paint it.

Deck Floor Sanding
Prepping Your Deck for Stain is an Essential Step

How to Get Deck Stain to Last Longer

Ultimately, primer is used to make paint last longer. To make deck stain last as long as possible follow these steps when staining:

  1. Pressure wash your deck prior to staining to clean off mold, algae, dirt, and mildew

  2. Scrape off any flaking stain if necessary

  3. Replace any rotting boards with pressure-treated lumber

  4. Once the wood is dry, apply two coats of a high-quality deck stain to the surface

  5. Do not walk, place furniture, or allow pets on the deck for 48 hours after staining

After the deck has been stained, avoid the following to prevent premature peeling or flaking:

  1. Scraping metal furniture on the deck 

  2. Allowing pets with long nails to run full-speed

  3. Shoveling snow with a metal-tipped shovel

  4. Allowing snow to sit on the deck all winter

  5. Salting your deck in winter

  6. Placing an outdoor rug on top of the stain, preventing ventilation

For more on this, read our article on Stain Failure.

EcoWash intern
EcoWash Rep with Customers

Deck staining can be a complicated task with many rules and techniques that many homeowners do not have time to learn. If you are looking to hire a trustworthy deck staining contractor, contact EcoWash.


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