How To Remove Deck Paint: Tips From An Experienced Painter

How to remove deck paint is a question I get from my clients all the time. And is one of the most tedious works I have done at home and for clients. I’ve got to be honest. I like DIY, but God I hated removing deck paint.

If you have the proper methodology for removing the paint, then this makes a real difference. From a tedious job to a focus deliverable nice outcome.

I have produced below a good guide as to how to remove deck paint the easy way. This is from an experienced painter. So, trust me, when I say it is tedious.

There are several stages that you need to go through to make the work easy but also with high standards outcomes. By the way, all of these stages also apply to how to remove paint from a wooden deck. By the way, you can use the same method for cleaning your boat paint.

How to sweep the deck to remove deck paint

Male amputee in his 30s using broom to sweep decking in garden, differing ability, work, conquering adversity

This is the first step in removing the deck’s paint and again it is a tedious one. Starts by removing all the furniture that you have, no matter how small or large it is. Ensure that you cover your nearby vegetation with good quality/old plastic sheeting.

Now, move on to secure plastic sheeting to siding, windows, and any type of masonry along the deck. Use some professional easy to remove painter’s tape (some are yellow in color, while others are white).

You are ready to start sweeping.

I always start sweeping from the house towards the garden. If there are large accumulations of leaves, garbage, or debris, you may want to first scrape them away with a really strong push broom.

When you finish cleaning the deck, then you need to wash it with plenty of water so that there is no dust around. Let the deck dry till there’s no more water or humidity. Now go to the next stage.

How to remove paint on deck – Applying a Paint Stripper

remove paint from wood using a paint removerIn this step, you want to apply some Paint Stripper to remove the paint easily in the next stage. This is a really easy step, but you need to first ensure you’ve got the appropriate safety gear on.

I personally believe that this is the best way to how to get paint off the wood deck. Some people will use some heating process, which is really difficult, time-consuming, and you may burn your deck. Best to stick to the paint stripper. Takes this from a person who’s done it all and got the T-shirt.

So, you need to get safety glasses, rubber gloves, and a painter’s mask. These are the three basic safety gear you must have when working with a paint stripper.

Here a little tip for you. Before you buy your chemical stripper, aim to avoid products containing methylene chloride. I know that these chemicals work well and are really fast, but these are made to be used by professionals.

Professionals know what they are doing with this dangerous chemical and have the most advanced safety gear to protect them from chemical emissions.

What I use, and I am a professional, is probably the least toxic of the different types of chemical strippers. It is made with limonene and is really good to remove old paint from the deck.

Now, enough about safety. Let’s crack on. Start by applying the paint stripper in one corner of the deck directly opposite your exit point.

Use any type of nylon brush or roller (large enough to cover a good surface so that you are fast). Always work in a 10 to 15 mins window.

Usually, the stripper will have an effect on the pain within that timeline. So, leave the paint stripper to work its magic on the wood for about 15 to 30 minutes. The best sign is when the paint lifts or there are some bubbles appearing.

You can always apply a little more stripper if you feel it’s needed to keep the deck’s wet during this time.

Now, it is time to scrub the softened paint from the wood (or other materials. What you need to have is a nice stiff-bristle brush (I have a metal one that works wonders). You can also scrape the paint off with a paint scraper (less fun to be honest).

Rinse the Deck and Neutralize it

Clean the deck with pressure washer

Now you are happy that there’s no more paint on your deck. It is time to clean the whole deck again. Get your hose, and start cleaning the deck with clean water. By the way, you can always use a pressure washer to remove paint from the deck (if you have one – for me this is a must as I do clean deck on almost a daily basis in springtime).

I like using the pressure washer as it will remove any remaining bits of paint. It will also take care of any residue from the paint stripper – and this is quite important. Removing the residue will ensure that when you apply new paint, you’ll not having the stripper chemically reacting with your paint.

I would say that you should not use the pressure washer on old wood decks because. If you do, you’ll definitely damage the wood with no way to recover it.

You can now neutralize the wood with a very easy solution consisting of an equal proportion of vinegar and water (say 5 liters of vinegar for 5 liters of water).

Be careful to never mix any chemical products with bleaches. You may have a very bad and dangerous chemical reaction.

And that’s it, this how-to get paint off the wood deck (or another type of decks).

Sanding and New Finish Deck’s Preparation

New deck painted and finnished

At this stage, it’s time to get a nice cup of coffee or tea. By the time you finish your cuppa, the deck will be fully dry.

You now can start the process of sanding your deck to remove paint. Sanding your deck is easy and you just need to do this fine-grit sandpaper. I would advise using a 120- or 150- grit to remove fine specks of paint.

The fine grit will help you smooth out the wood in the right way. In fact, by doing so, the wood will be fully prepared for a new coat of finish.

Ensure that you sand in the direction of the wood grain. When you are done, you just need to sweep away sanding dust. I advise you to wear a mask for this step so that no dust accumulates in your lungs.

Clean the deck with a broom, then a clean brush, and finally with a humid tissue to remove what was left from the dust.

Now that all of the paint is removed, that there’s no more dust, you may see some nail heads, and holes or gouges. You may decide to remove these or keep them in. Your choice.

If you remove them, then countersink raised nails with a hammer. Ensure that your fill all of the gouges or holes with exterior wood filler (if your deck is made of wood) prior to painting or staining.

Now your deck is ready for painting. You have successfully removed paint from the wood deck. Now you can start painting your deck. Don’t forget to apply some wood primer.


Once you learn all the ins and outs of stripping paint from a deck, you’ll never want to do it again! Realistically, I think you’ll do it again and it’ll become like a habit. You’ll start by seeing the imperfections on your deck that no one care about but you.

If this happens, then just go for a cup of coffee and chill out. It may be that you have become like me, a bit of a perfectionist.

Now, remember to follow the above tips to remove deck paint, though, as they’ll help you avoid the pitfalls of home improvement.

And the good news is that you can use the above tips if you think about how to remove stains from wood decks.


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