How to Paint Your Wood Porch

There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint to spiff up a porch. Here are some tips for attractive, long-lasting results.

By Jan Soults Walker

Paint your porch like a pro when you observe some simple guidelines:

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Amy Conner-Murphy

For the floor

• Prepare a previously painted porch floor by sweeping up debris and thoroughly washing the surface with detergent recommended by the paint manufacturer. Scrape or sand to remove paint and smooth chipped areas. Wear a respirator or dust mask so you don't inhale sanding dust. Eliminate mildew with mildew remover. Once the floor is completely free of grease, dirt, and mildew, the entire floor surface should be lightly sanded so paint will adhere. Let wet surfaces dry completely before painting.

• Fill cracks and splits with plastic wood filler or wood dough. Let dry and sand. Secure loose boards with stainless steel or galvanized nails that won't rust.

• Prepare new wood by sanding the surface and washing with wood cleaner.

• Select premium-quality, gloss enamel paint formulated for porch floors to ensure a durable finish that can stand up to heavy foot traffic. Have fun with color or even alternate colors on boards.

• Protect the bottom of the house wall and around railing posts from paint splatters with quick-release painter's tape. Cover landscaping with drop cloths.

• Plan a strategy so you don't paint yourself into a corner. If the steps are centered on your porch, paint from each end toward the center. Don't forget to paint the front ends of boards as well as the exposed sides.

• Block the porch steps so no one inadvertently steps onto the floor. Let the floor dry for as long as the paint manufacturer recommends before walking on it.

For railings

Michael Abrams
• Remove and replace rotted rails, balusters or spindles, or posts.

• Position drop cloths under the railing to protect the porch floor, and cover landscaping with drop cloths to catch paint splatters.

• Scrape and sand away loose or chipped paint. Wear a respirator or dust mask while sanding.

• Caulk gaps where balusters or spindles meet rails, where rails meet posts, and where posts meet the deck floor so moisture can't seep into unpainted wood. Let caulk dry before painting.

• Use premium-quality, self-priming exterior latex satin or gloss enamel formulated for porch railings.

• Apply the paint alternately using a brush for tight spots on the rails and between balusters, and a small roller to apply paint to straight rail runs and on balusters or spindles.

For more home design ideas and advice, check out:

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