Simple Steps To Restore Wooden Deck Rails

July 22nd 2014
Simple Steps To Restore Wooden Deck Rails



Q: We have several decks on our home with wood railings. It seems we can never get paint to last on the railings over the winter. What can we use to get a better surface?




A: Most sundeck or porch railings are made from two-by-four or two-by-six cedar, fir, spruce or pine, or maybe yellow cedar. Any new material used for horizontal railings should have a wood preparation used to etch the surface of the wood. This removes the mill glazing from the surface. It is important to remove this as it acts as a sealer, not allowing paint or stain to penetrate into the wood.


Before repainting existing railings, use a heat gun and paint scraper to remove the old paint or stain. If needed, use 80-grit garnet sandpaper to finish, removing the old paint or stain to get a nice fresh surface.


The next step is to apply an exterior all-purpose no-bleed primer to prevent some types of wood, such as cedar, bleeding through waterbased paints or stains.


For best results, use a semi-gloss acrylic latex paint for the finish coat. If you live in a cold climate, I suggest applying a coat of liquid floor wax to the railings over paint or stain before winter sets in; the wax will protect the finish from ice buildup on the surface, as it will not be able to grab onto the wax-protected coating.


Note: Do not paint railings in the hot sun as it will affect drying.  If you would like to eliminate all painting, I would suggest a PVC vinyl railing cap that can be installed over two-by-four and two-by-six railings.  The product is manufactured by Netcan and available at many building supply stores. Visit  Netcan's website at or call them at 604-534-9752 or toll free at 1-877-830-1609.