Over time, weather and foot traffic take their toll on exposed deck boards, causing splintering, warping, and unsightly graying. Restoring a tired deck back to its former glory can feel daunting. Acrylic deck coatings offer an easy upgrade that saves the expense and hassle of full deck replacement.
Acrylic coatings are top-quality deck paints that fully seal and beautify wood or composite decks while adding protection against moisture damage. This guide covers the benefits of acrylic coatings, how they compare to wood stains, and the varieties available to refresh your deck.
Benefits of Using Acrylic Deck Coatings
Upgrading to an acrylic coating delivers multiple advantages over bare wood or traditional staining:
UV Protection – Acrylics contain UV blockers that prevent graying and color fade caused by sun exposure. Wood tones remain rich for years.
Waterproofing – Acrylic forms a fully waterproof barrier that protects deck boards from cupping, cracking and rot. Rain and snow slide right off.
Mold & Mildew Resistance – Special additives prevent unsightly dark mold and mildew growth in damp or shaded areas.
Abrasion Protection – Thick acrylic coatings stand up to heavy foot traffic without wearing through or peeling up. Highly durable finish.
Renewed Appearance – Apply layered coats of acrylic tinted to any color to totally refresh the deck’s look. Hide flaws and damage.
Quick Drying – Advanced water-based acrylics dry rapidly so you can complete the project over a weekend versus waiting days between coats.
Long Lifespan – Expect 5-10 years of protection before a renewal coat is needed. Acrylics far outlast yearly wood sealing.
Professional-grade acrylic coatings shield your deck investment against weathering while restoring a like-new appearance for a fraction of full replacement cost.
How Acrylic Coatings Compare to Wood Stains
acrylic coatings differ from penetrating wood stains in a few important ways:
Surface Coating vs. Absorption – Acrylics bond to the deck surface to create a protective film while stains soak into exposed wood grain. Acrylics last longer.
Layering Ability – With acrylics you can build up multiple coats to add waterproofing thickness and hide flaws. Stains don’t allow layered applications.
Moisture Barrier – Acrylic’s waterproof film prevents any moisture from reaching the wood. Stains repel water but still allow some absorption into the grain.
Usage – Acrylic coatings work on almost all deck types including wood, composite, and PVC boards. Stain is only effective on bare wood.
Durability – Acrylics stand up to heavy foot traffic better than thin penetrating stains. Acrylic renewals needed less frequently.
For maximum protection and new color tones on any deck type, acrylic coatings outperform wood stains. Let’s examine popular options.
Types of Acrylic Deck Coating Products
1. Solid Color Acrylic Deck Paint
This opaque deck coating obscures flaws and stains while providing a vibrant new color. It contains pigments for a wide range of color choices beyond natural wood hues. Multiple coats result in a polished, high-gloss finish.
Best For – Severely weathered decks with extensive damage. Composite or PVC decks. Complete color transformation.
Brands – Behr Premium, INSL-X SureStep, Rust-Oleum RockSolid.
2. Tinted Clear Acrylic Sealers
Tinted sealers include transparent pigments which add a rich tone while allowing the grain to show through. They enhance the natural wood pattern with a colored semi-transparent finish.
Best For – Lightly worn decks with minimal flaws needing a refresh. Maintaining wood look.
Brands – Behr Premium Semi-Transparent, SuperDeck Exotic Hardwood Stain, DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent.
3. Clear Acrylic Deck Sealers
Clear acrylics provide maximum protection without altering wood color. They soak deep into decks to fortify against moisture damage. Use to maintain newer decks or lighten gray weathered wood.
Best For – Protection for near-new decks. Lightening grayness. Keeping consistent natural tone.
Brands – Rain Guard Water Sealers, SEAL-ONCE Wood Sealer, Messmers UV Plus.
4. Water-Based vs. Solvent-Based Acrylics
Water-based acrylics are lower odor, easier cleanup and faster drying. But they lack penetration of solvent formulas. Water-based acrylics suffice for many applications.
Solvent-based acrylics contain chemicals for deeper penetration into wood pores to maximize bonding and longevity. Use for extreme weathering. Strong chemical fumes require proper ventilation.
Application Tips for Acrylic Deck Coatings
Follow manufacturer instructions closely during application for best bonding and results:
Surface Prep – Clean deck fully and sand off any loose previous finish. Fill cracks and holes with exterior wood filler.
Weather Conditions – Apply in dry weather when temperatures are above 50°F. Avoid hot sun which causes fast drying.
Brush or Roller – Use thick nap or foam rollers designed for smooth coatings. Quality angled brushes also work for cutting in edges.
Multiple Coats – Allow thorough drying between 2-3 coats to build protective acrylic film thickness to at least 5 dry mils.
Dry Time – Stay off deck until coating fully cures. Water-based formulas may dry within hours while solvent-based versions require 24-48 hours before light foot traffic.
Follow up annually with a single maintenance coat to keep your acrylic deck finish looking like new for its warranty lifespan.
What About Using Acrylic on Composite Decking?
While composites are designed to be low-maintenance decking, their outer plastic shell eventually degrades, exposing porous inner wood fibers. Acrylic renewal coats add longevity to fading composite decks by:
- Renewing rich color tones
- Smoothing over cracked or pitted outer plastic
- Protecting inner wood fibers from moisture damage
- Adding textured slip-resistance to slick cap layer
High-quality acrylic formulas designed for composites adhere well and extend the lifespan of your composite investment.
Key Considerations When Selecting an Acrylic Deck Coating
- Acrylic deck coating cost can range widely. Higher quality acrylics last longer to protect your investment.
- Consider ease of future color change. Solid colors allow easy updating while clear coats maintain existing deck tone.
- Check ratings for UV protection, mold inhibitors, and durability against foot traffic.
- Match product to your deck needs – flaws to hide vs retaining natural wood appearance.
- Prepare to spend a full weekend masking, cleaning, sanding, and applying multiple coats.
Upgrading to an acrylic finish revives the look of a tired deck while protecting it against moisture, mold and UV damage far better than wood stains. Consult with acrylic coating brands to determine the best system to renew and waterproof your deck surface for years to come.
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