What is Trex Decking?
Great question! So let’s examine what composite decking is. Trex decking is a wood fiber-polymer composite material. It is low maintenance in that it never requires refinishing, and the material won’t rot, splinter, or warp. Trex also resists fading and mildewing and stands up to wear and tear. In addition, it’s made of recycled materials and is environmentally friendly. Trex also comes with an extended warranty.
Homeowners considering their decking material options for a new deck may be even more interested in Trex composite decking once they learn about its cool history. For example, what do breadcrumbs, chickens, plastic bags, and wood scraps all have in common? You would be surprised! The above items may leave you scratching your head, but it makes perfect sense.
An entrepreneur named Roger Wittenberg always looked for new ways to turn waste into something useful. Resourceful Mr. Wittenberg would take the plastic bags he used for breadcrumbs from the loaves of chicken feed (and other recycled plastic bags) and combine them with sawdust and wood scraps often found in furniture manufacturing. The wood fibers and plastic combined would then form a polymer material which became composite decking. In 1996 Trex was born.
Can you paint or stain it?
We all know it’s possible to paint and stain wood decks. You can also do this with Trex composite decking, but it’s a little trickier. First, you would need to determine the age of your composite deck and then figure out your painting or sealing needs. In 2010 Trex came out with a high-performance material that doesn’t need to be painted. PVC caps protect it. As of 2014, the earlier generations of Trex composite decking manufacturing ceased. If you have a newer type of decking, then you can paint or stain the underside and ends but not the deck surface.
What are the benefits or drawbacks of painting Trex decking?
There are benefits and drawbacks when considering whether to paint your Trex deck. This is particularly true if you have one of the earlier generations of Trex composite decking. The older generations can take paint, albeit there are a few things to consider before embarking on a paint job. One thing to keep in mind is that once the paint is applied to the composite, it starts acting like a wooden deck in terms of maintenance, so it should be painted every few years.
You do not need to paint newer generations of Trex decking (built after 2010), but you could utilize a composite deck stain underneath. The later versions of Trex are more durable, fade-resistant, and have augmented protection from the elements. Therefore, painting Trex Transcend or Trex Enhance is unnecessary and can seal moisture in the composite material that may eventually split or crack the deck.
Things to consider when prepping to paint your Trex deck
So you have an earlier generation of Trex composite decking, and you’ve decided to paint your deck! There are a few things to plan as you clean and prep your deck for new paint.
You will need cleaning materials, acrylic latex primer, and high-quality paint that is not color fading, and you should consider the square footage for the paint to cover. Another consideration is the weather. It is much better to paint on a dry and warmer day as this will speed up the drying time. Try not to do this in direct sunlight if possible because that could cause an unwanted sheen.
How to clean Trex decking before painting
It is essential to clean and prep your deck before painting. First, gather your supplies, which should include a soft bristle brush, a sprayer attachment nozzle to a hose or a pressure washer, 240-grit sandpaper, painter’s tape, and some protective sheeting or drop cloths. As for the cleaning products, you can either mix a DIY cleaning solution of baking soda, vinegar, and dishwashing detergent or get a composite commercial cleaner.
Remove everything from your deck, including planters, furniture, etc., and sweep your deck to remove debris and leaves. Then use a low-pressure power washer to eliminate dirt, stains, and mold spots. Make use of your scrub brush. Let the deck dry. Start by using sandpaper and rough up the composite deck boards to degloss them, as this will increase the adhesion of the paint. After sanding, sweep up dust, and use a damp cloth to wipe down or respray the deck with water.
How to stain or paint Trex decking
Once your deck is completely dry from cleaning and sanding, you are now ready for the next step.
Time to prime it. Why prime? Besides providing a good durable base for the exterior paint, a latex exterior primer also removes any rough spots for a smooth paint finish. Give it about two hours to dry.
Now paint your deck!
There are several types of paint to choose from and various instruments for implementation. First, let’s take a look at paint for composite decking. You have a couple choices – either a semi-gloss acrylic latex paint or a composite deck stain. Use paints that are resistant to harsher weather conditions. It is likely more advantageous to stain Trex composite decking as these decks are porous and can accept stain often better than latex paint. If you decide to stain, choose a product with mildew and UV inhibitors. Additionally, use a stain-blocking primer before staining.
As for implementation tools, you may use a brush, a sprayer, or a roller. Rollers are quite helpful if you have long composite deck boards. Using a roller ensures more uniform coverage.
Apply a thin coat of paint and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep it thin to enhance the wood grain pattern. You will need to apply another coat to attain even paint coverage. It is possible you may need a third coat. After painting the deck, you can seal it. Sealing the deck is recommended, especially if your deck is near a pool or in a humid climate.
Sealing your deck
If you decide to seal your deck, wait until the paint is completely dry, which can take a few days. There are several recommended products to consider. Liquid Rubber or a high-quality polyurethane exterior seal or varnish will work well. Sealing will protect your deck from moisture and scratches.
What kind of paint can you use on composite decking?
As mentioned before, latex acrylic paint is best. Let’s go through a couple of differences between the types of paint and what happens if you use one type versus another. First, you want to be sure you get exterior paint specifically designed to handle harsh weather. We recommend oil-based paints. If you use water-based paint, you must seal it to prevent flaking and peeling.
One thing to note is that if you paint your deck, you can change its color. Trex now comes in nearly two dozen colors, and many paint color choices are also available.
Whether you decide to paint, stain, or seal your composite deck, please make sure you do your research beforehand. Find out how old your deck is, what preference is best for you and your family, and the time involved. Remember, Trex decks are low maintenance, so painting is a commitment to be kept up every few years so your deck’s color stays nice and doesn’t fade.