Can You Paint Trex Decking

Can You Paint Trex Decking? (Quick Answer!)

In the olden days, building a deck out of anything besides wood was virtually unheard of. However, in the late 1980s, composite decking was invented, and everything changed.

Composite decking is designed to be more durable and require less maintenance than traditional wood deck boards. They consist of a mixture of wood, plastic, and other elements, making them more rot and corrosion-resistant.

However, while composite decking is resistant to many elements, UV radiation makes it prone to fading. Therefore, many wonder if they can apply an occasional coat of paint or stain to their Trex or composite decking to combat this issue.

In this guide, I’ll answer the question “can you paint Trex decking?” and much more. Let’s dig in!

  • Yes, you can paint or stain many composite decking materials but you’ll want to be sure that your Trex decking doesn’t contain an outer PVC shell that doesn’t allow paint or stain to adhere properly.
  • It’s a good idea to identify whether your composite decking is capped or uncapped to decide if paint or stain is better for your surface.

Can You Paint Composite Decking?

One of the reasons that composite decking was invented was to provide an alternative to expensive, high-maintenance wood. Unfortunately, while composite decking is immune to many things, it’s not immune to fading in the summer sun.

Therefore, to protect the color of your composite decking and to prevent unwanted fading, you can paint or stain it. However, you can only paint or stain older, early-generation decking materials that don’t have an outer shell consisting of PVC.

In the case of Trex decking, they started applying PVC coating to all their deck boards starting in 2014. Additionally, Trex started the trend in 2010 but completely phased out older-generation decking by 2014.

Therefore, you can paint your composite decking if your Trex deck boards were created before 2010. Additionally, if your Trex deck was built before 2014, there’s a chance you can paint or stain it, but only if it doesn’t have the outer PVC shell.

Can You Stain Trex or Composite Decking?

In the same way you can paint Trex or composite decking pending its age, you can also stain it. 

However, before painting or staining your Trex composite decking, contact the manufacturer or installer and ask them what type of decking you have. If it contains the outer PVC shell of most newer generation composite deck boards, you can’t paint or stain it.

The PVC coating on newer composite decking is specifically engineered to provide extra protection from the elements, including fading and wear and tear due to UV radiation.

Therefore, applying a layer of paint or stain on top of the PVC will prevent it from doing its job and void Trex’s 25-year warranty. Additionally, PVC decking has a unique molecular makeup that makes it incompatible with paints and stains, so your paint won’t properly adhere to the PVC, resulting in peeling and cracking.

How to Paint or Stain a Composite Deck

If you have contacted your manufacturer and discovered that your Trex or composite decking doesn’t have a PVC shell, you can paint or stain it! However, if you want your coat of paint or stain to make your composite deck look better and not worse, it’s important to do the job the right way.

1. Gather Your Materials

First and foremost, it’s important to gather all your necessary materials so you don’t have to make unwanted trips to the hardware store in the middle of your project. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need to stain or paint your Trex decking.

  • Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner or a similar product
  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • A garden hose or low-pressure washer
  • Your paint or stain of choice
  • Primer (if necessary)
  • Roller and brushes
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Tape and plastic sheets

2. Choose the Right Type of Paint or Stain

Many brands and options are available when choosing the right paint or stain for your composite deck. Latex acrylic paint from a reliable brand is a good option for painting, while a semi-solid deck stain is the best for staining.

3. Clean and Prepare the Deck Surface

Before getting to the actual painting, you must prepare your deck surface properly by cleaning, washing, and drying it. Start by removing plants, furniture, and other obstacles from the painting area.

Next, scrub down your deck with warm, soapy water and a splash of vinegar and baking soda. It’s best to use a soft thistle brush and scrub the deck by hand. If there are stubborn stains or mold, a heavy-duty deck cleaner will help eliminate these.

While you can optionally use a low-pressure power washer to clean your deck, having the pressure too high will cause damage, and you’ll need to replace the deck.

4. Apply a Coat of Primer

If you are using a paint or stain that doesn’t include a primer, you’ll need to apply a coat of primer before the paint. Otherwise, it won’t adhere correctly and result in peeling and cracking. Apply a second coat if necessary.

5. Paint Your Deck Surface

With the primer applied and dried, you can now paint your Trex composite decking. If you’re unsatisfied with the result after the first coat has dried, add a second coat for good measure.

6. Add a Sealer if Necessary

If you decide to stain your deck rather than paint it, you may also need to add a sealer to protect the stain. This will vary from one manufacturer to another, so be sure to read the instructions.

Here’s a great video showing you exactly how to stain Trex or composite decking!

Tips and Tricks to Ensure Painting Success

The bad part about painting or staining your composite deck is that you can do everything right and still not get the result you were hoping for. To ensure the success of your painting project, here are a few additional tips and tricks.

  • Avoid painting in direct sunlight, as this will cause the paint or stain to dry too quickly.
  • Paint your deck on a warm day, as temperatures lower than 60 degrees could keep your paint or stain from drying.
  • Have mineral spirits handy to clean up unwanted spills and messes.
  • Depending on the type of Trex composite deck you have, you might have to scuff it up with sandpaper before priming and painting. Otherwise, the paint won’t adhere to the deck material. Check with the manufacturer to know for sure!
  • Take your time and be patient, as rushing will likely lead to mistakes.

Is It Better to Paint or Stain Composite Decking?

In general, applying paint or stain to your composite decking will achieve the same goal of giving it a fresh color and protecting it from the elements. As long as you choose a good painting or staining product and apply it properly, there’s no real downside to either option.

Having said that, however, paint is slightly thicker and heavier and will provide a better exterior color and protective layer for composite decking. Stains, conversely, are thinner and will penetrate the deck boards, protecting it from the inside out.

Additionally, stain will allow your composite deck to retain its original color, whereas paint will give it a brand new one. Either way, you will have to repaint or restain your Trex or composite deck every couple of years.

Capped Composite Decking Vs. Uncapped

It’s also important to know if your Trex or composite deck is capped or uncapped. While both deck types consist of a combination of wood and plastic, capped composite decking has a rubber layer of protection, whereas non-capped composite decking does not.

Stain won’t be able to penetrate the rubber barrier of capped decking, so you’ll need to use paint. On the other hand, stain will seep into the material nicely for non-capped decking and is a solid option.

Should I Paint My Trex Deck Boards or Replace Them?

While adding a coat of stain or paint to your Trex deck will help, you should eventually consider replacing the deck altogether. This is especially true if you have older composite decking that lacks the durable PVC shell.

Are you wondering how to restore your decking? Check out the video below!

Pros and Cons of Painting Trex Decking

If you have the option to paint or stain composite decking at your home or business but aren’t sure it’s worth the hassle, here’s a list of pros and cons to consider.


  • The main reason that people paint composite decking is to give it a new, fresh look and feel.
  • If you paint Trex decking, it will have added protection from rain, cold weather, and the sun.
  • Painting your composite deck will keep it from fading or restore its color after it fades.


  • It’s important to make sure your composite deck doesn’t have PVC coating. If it does and you paint over it, you’ll void the warranty, damage the PVC decking, and the paint won’t adhere to the PVC.
  • Painting or staining a composite deck doesn’t guarantee it will last longer if the boards have already started to rot.
  • Once you apply the first coat of paint to composite decks, you must repaint them every two to five years.

In general, adding a composite deck stain or paint to the surface of your Trex decking is a great way to help it last longer and look better.


What is the best type of paint for composite decking?

If you plan to paint composite decking, the best option is to use acrylic latex paint approved for exterior use.

Will paint stick to composite decking?

If your composite decking doesn’t have an outer layer of PVC, paint and stain will stick to the decking. However, paint and stain won’t adhere to the deck if it does have a PVC shell.

What should you not use on Trex decking?

Before painting your Trex deck, it’s important to properly clean and scrub it. To do this, you should NEVER use acid, bleach, or a pressure washer that exceeds 3100 psi, as these will damage composite decks.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, if you have an older Trex or composite deck that doesn’t have an outer PVC shell, you can paint or stain it just as with wood. If it does have a PVC shell, however, you cannot paint or stain it. Additionally, once you start painting and staining composite decking, you’ll have to keep doing it every couple of years to retain the desired effect. 

Eventually, it will make more sense to replace your composite deck with a new one, but painting and staining is the better and cheaper option in the short term.

Jalin Coblentz

Jalin is a seasoned professional content and copywriter in the construction, DIY, and remodeling spaces. Prior to his writing career, he worked as an HVAC technician for seven years and successfully flipped and remodeled many homes. When he’s not busy performing DIYs and remodels around his home, he loves traveling in his RV and travel trailer and writing about his adventures at