DIY: Painted My Outdoor Deck + Railings BLACK

Over the weekend, Hedge and I painted our deck + metal railings black. The joke is that I ran out of walls in the apartment to paint black, so I took my obsession outside. But it’s not a joke, because that’s actually what happened.

Tada!!

Tada!! (A typical bright + sunny summer day in San Francisco… ha)

Since moving into Chez Noz in 2010, I’ve gone through various stages of falling in and out of love with my deck: first, “Omg I’m just so happy and grateful to have outdoor space in a city!” Then, “Ugh maintenance of the deck is daunting. I shall avoid!” (which I did for over 3 years). Then, “Ugh I hate the railings – they look like prison bars – I need to replace them with fancy cable railings or I won’t be able to concentrate on my life.” To finally, “Okay, can’t afford to change the railings with my super-baby-DIY budget. What else can I do?”

BEFORE the prep work began!! That black spot Viv is lying next to is burn damage from a charcoal chimney being set down there.

BEFORE the prep work began!! That black spot Viv is lying next to is burn damage from a charcoal chimney being set down there. Don’t the unpainted metal railings look terrible?

I was also troubled with what to do about the burn damage mark on the deck, from when Hedge accidentally set his lit charcoal chimney down.

Then, an epiphany from the burn mark: I remembered how much I love shou-sugi-ban – a Japanese practice of charring wood for outdoor applications. The charring makes the wood rot- and pest-resistant, and also makes it beautifully black. So I decided, “Omg let’s paint everything outside black!!” I figured black would also make the existing railings feel more modern and sleek, which was my goal anyway with previously wanting new cable railings.

And now that it’s done I’m suuuuuper happy with the final results:

Closer look at the deck boards

Closer look at the deck boards + Viv’s lil face

TOTAL COST: $87! (Well, we only paid $77, but it WOULD have cost $87)

The supplies we bought for this project: 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint in Onyx, 2 cans of Rust-Oleum

The supplies we bought for this project: 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint in Onyx, 2 cans of Rust-Oleum “Universal” spray paint in Glossy Black (they SUCK), and 5 cans of Rust-Oleum “2x” paint + primer in Glossy Black.

Besides the deck paint (~$52 for a gallon) and spray paint (it took 7 full cans of spray paint, $5/can, but we only paid for 5 cans of the “2X” which is why we only spent $25 on spray paint vs. $35. Will explain in a bit about the Universal spray cans), we already had everything we needed from previous paint projects. Here’s the full supply list:

  • Deck paint (a gallon of the Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint will more than cover 2 coats of a 200+ square foot project. Our deck is about 110 square feet)
  • Paint roller + a paint tray for the roller
  • Paint brush for the trim work
  • Optional: a pole for the roller, so you can stand up while painting the deck (I just unscrewed the pool off a broom – the threads from broom handles tend to be the same as what screws into a paint roller)
  • Spray paint that works outdoors and on metal (we needed 7 cans for 2 coats along ~25 linear feet of railings – your quantity needed will vary based on how close together your balusters are)
  • Sand paper (medium + fine grit) and steel wool

We went with a top-down strategy and prepped + painted the railings first, then the deck.

First, prep work: we brought all the furniture, Hedge’s Weber smoker, and planters inside. Then we swept the deck. The most painstaking and time-consuming part of this project was prepping the railings, which is basically cleaning + sanding them (to remove rust and to prep the surface so the paint adheres). Side note: sanding metal railings SUCKS. Steel wool, or any metal abrasive, grating against another metal surface, is like nails on a chalkboard that you feel in your hands the entire time.

Next, we spray painted the railings, starting with the top rail, then the balusters, then the bottom rail. For all my previous posts about spray painting DIY projects, the railings were BY FAR the most ambitious spray painting endeavor I’ve completed so far. Two full coats, then touch-up for spots that we missed or were under-covered.

Pro Tip: get started prepping the railings early in the morning. That way you can start spray painting before afternoon winds pick up. Once the winds came, it was just comical to watch paint fly another direction and not hit the railings, so we had to finish up the next morning.

Product Tip: DO NOT use Rust-Oleum “Universal” spray paints. The coverage + quality of the paint is great, but the trigger nozzle is AWFUL. Within the first minutes of use, we realized the paint was leaking out of the trigger all over our hands, and every time we shook the cans (you need to shake spray cans regularly during use – see my other spray painting tips), paint was dripping and splattering ALL OVER the deck. In our case, we were going to paint the deck anyway so it was okay. But I would be livid otherwise. We returned the two Universal spray cans to the store (which is why they didn’t hit our budget), but not before this:

Tons of paint splatter from the terrible Universal spray cans. Not pictured: all the splatter on my legs and feet, and the drippage all over our hands and arms.

Tons of paint splatter from the terrible Universal spray cans. Not pictured: all the splatter on my legs and feet, and the drippage all over our hands and arms.

After we finished the 2 coats of spray paint on the railings, we moved on to the deck. We swept the deck again and used a spackling blade to get any pebbles or debris out from between the deck boards. Then I sanded down the burn mark aggressively to make sure that surface was smooth. Luckily the rest of the boards are still in good shape and don’t have splinters.

Painting a deck is pretty simple: like painting walls, you do the trim work first with a brush, then use the roller to fill in. The trick is to paint from the farthest side first, then move backwards closer and closer to the door, so that you don’t paint yourself in without a way to get off the deck while it’s wet. For good measure, we painted two full coats – but the coverage with the BM Floor & Patio was very good after just 1 coat. The other amazing thing about the Floor & Patio line is you can pick just about any shade that Benjamin Moore offers in its indoor paints. We chose Onyx because it’s a more dynamic color than Benjamin Moore “Black.”

Progress shot: you can see how opaque the coverage was after just 1 coat!

Progress shot: you can see how opaque the coverage was after just 1 coat! The wonky sheen differences = sections drying differently because of the shade.

We also happened to paint directly over the stain that we applied about 20 months earlier. The stain was pretty worn down / no longer really sealing the boards from water, even though the red color was still there. Since our previous stain was water-based, it should be totally okay that we just painted over it without stripping the stain first (time will tell if this was in fact a huge mistake). If the stain had been oil-based, though, we’d have had to sand down and strip the deck boards first before painting.

However – since we painted over the stain, the paint actually took quite a bit longer than I expected to set in and dry. If we had completely sanded + stripped the deck boards, I think the paint would have dried and set faster.

We gave it a full 2 days before putting all the furniture + planters back out, but now that things are put back together, OMG I LOVE IT. The black deck feels so chic, and so unusual. It also has become such a cool blank canvas: the teal Acapulco chair looks SO rad now (rather than when the teal had to compete with a red deck).  And my little Black Rose Aeoniums look so rich and vibrant now:

These Aeoniums used to feel so plainly black versus my other succulents. Now they feel newly rich with color.

These Aeoniums used to feel so plainly black, but I LOVE their colors now against the black railings.

There are, of course, a few side effects to having painted everything black: the deck is hotter to walk on now (because, black), and if my shoes are a little dusty, they leave footprints more visibly. BUT, we live in San Francisco – it never gets that hot, and it’s a city, so dirt happens. Other than that, I’m thrilled with the end results and can’t wait to throw a “Deck Viewing Party” (aka: BBQ) later this summer.

What do you think?? Would you ever go #allblackallover outdoors?

3 thoughts on “DIY: Painted My Outdoor Deck + Railings BLACK

  1. Getting ready to paint my deck dark charcoal. Does the extra heat retention get too hot for your dogs paws?

    • YES it totally does get hot hot hot. Viv tends to lie on the couch, and it’s not too hot for her to scramble across the deck, but it does get too warm in the highest heat of summer for her to lie down on the dark paint!

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