When your sundeck is stained, faded, and otherwise looking worse-for-wear, you may ask yourself, can I paint my vinyl deck? The answer to this question is a bit more involved than a simple yes or no.

To help you make an informed decision on how to handle a weathered vinyl sundeck, before you grab your paint roller, consider these points:

Paint won’t stick to your vinyl deck

One of the greatest benefits to having a vinyl deck is that, unlike wooden decks, you don’t need to stain or paint it. But because of the PVC make-up of vinyl decking, it also means that paints and stains don’t stand a chance of staying adhered to this surface for long (if at all).

If you’ve ever been the owner of a wooden deck, you know how fickle a coat of paint is, even on this rough, porous surface. A painted wooden deck requires a redo every couple of years at best.

Vinyl is about the most inhospitable surface that paint could encounter: smooth, horizontal, and non-porous. For this reason, painted vinyl has the life expectancy of a house fly (even with a primer!). As the painted deck quickly flakes off in the high-traffic areas, it will leave your deck looking worse than before.

Paint is also not a waterproofer. If your vinyl deck is over living space or if you’re relying on it in any way to keep water from penetrating to below, paint is going to sorely disappoint you.

waterproof deck coating over existing vinyl in Vancouver | Citywide Sundecks and Railings
Waterproof deck coating over existing vinyl deck membrane

You can put a coating over your vinyl deck

Often confused with “paint,” waterproof coatings are a viable option for changing the appearance of your vinyl deck. These two materials are similar in that they are liquid, pigmented, and applied with a roller, but that’s about where the similarities end.

Coatings are multi-layer waterproofing systems that rely on some pretty sophisticated chemistry to create effective adhesion and a reliable waterproof membrane. At Citywide Sundecks, we use commercial-grade coatings on all of our liquid deck coating projects. You can also buy lower-grade coatings at the hardware store.

Why you shouldn’t put a coating on your vinyl deck

Just because you CAN use a coating on your vinyl deck, doesn’t mean it’s the best plan for your needs. The possibility of simply changing the colour and look of your deck is appealing, but it comes with risks. Yes, a professional coating will stick to your vinyl deck and yes, it will create a waterproof membrane, but things can go wrong.

First, liquid deck coatings must be applied in ideal conditions.

dry, moderate temperatures without direct sunlight. Good luck finding that elusive combination in Metro Vancouver for a few days in a row! Poorly suited weather can cause a coating to fail, causing bubbling or peeling shortly after application. These inconsistencies (and any others in your deck that may not be obvious currently) will be visible even after reapplication.

Second, your waterproofing is only as reliable as your substrate.

A popped nail, failed seam, or structural failure won’t be fixed by a coating. A liquid-applied membrane can extend the life of your vinyl deck membrane and improve aesthetics, but it shouldn’t be relied on to fix a leak or larger issue.

waterproof deck membrane application | Citywide Sundecks and Railings
Waterproof deck membrane application.

When you should coat your vinyl deck

There’s always some level of risk in applying a coating over your vinyl deck, but sometimes that risk is worth the reward. Here are a few circumstances where a deck coating might be your best option:

  • When the cost to remove and replace a vinyl deck is prohibitively expensive or overly technical.
  • When you’re simply looking to change up the colour or design of your deck vinyl.
  • If you want to add some additional texture or stain resistance.

When you remove and reinstall a vinyl membrane, siding and exterior doors should be removed and replaced as well to ensure waterproofing. This isn’t always an option. However, a liquid deck coating can solve a range of problems.

Still not sure if you should paint your vinyl deck?

Most home maintenance decisions can’t be resolved with one simple article, but we’re here to help. If you have more questions about updating your vinyl sundeck, fill out this form or give us a call at 250-618-2507. Our deck experts are committed to helping you make the best informed decision for your needs.