How to Paint a Porch Floor for Upgraded Outdoor Living

Kristin Luna
Written by Kristin Luna
Updated January 14, 2022
A mother with her kids playing chess on a porch
Photo: The Good Brigade / DigitalVision / Getty Images

These tips will help you level up your outdoor living space in no time

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With spring around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about livening up your outdoor living space. One way to do just that: Add a splash of color where needed—starting with your porch floor. Never stained or painted a porch before? Worry not—here’s everything you’ll need to know about how to paint a porch floor from start to finish.

Difficulty: 2/5—Flex your DIY muscles

Time to complete: You can paint your porch in a weekend, though if it requires washing first, you’ll want to give it a day or two to dry out before applying paint.

What You’ll Need 

Tools

  • Scrub brush, sponge, or pressure washer

  • Broom

  • 2.5-inch sash angled brush 

  • Roller frame

  • 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch nap paint roller

  • Putty knife

  • 2-gallon bucket

Supplies

  • TSP cleaner (trisodium phosphate)

  • Roll of painters’ tape 

  • Exterior or floor paint 

Prepping to Paint Your Porch

Before you get started planning your outdoor living space, you’ll want to consider a few things, like the type of flooring you have and whether you should stain or paint your porch.

Porch Flooring

Check for rot or moisture after you’ve cleaned the surface vigorously. Spot sanding and priming is a good idea if you have any bare wood exposed to ensure your topcoat of paint sticks evenly. 

If you’re updating the stain and varnish, use a cleaning and removal product specific to those materials. If you’re starting from raw wood, you’ll need to let the floor cure after you’ve installed it. 

Painting a Porch

You’ll also want to nail down what kind of paint finish you’ll need. If you anticipate needing to clean frequently—for example, if you have kids or pets—a high-gloss paint is easier to clean. 

But if you intend to lightly use the porch, you can consider a satin or matte finish deck paint, which will hide imperfections better but won’t hold up to abuse as well. 

Staining a Porch

If your porch is already painted, you’re committed to using paint again unless you intend to strip down the entire thing to bare wood. If the porch is new raw wood or you’re going back over a stained surface, you have the option of doing stain or paint, depending on your preference. 

The common stain and varnish combination found on a lot of decks will hold up better to foot traffic and the elements, as it penetrates the wood more effectively than paint. 

5 Steps to Painting Your Porch

An elevated wooden porch
Photo: The Good Brigade / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Now that you have the equipment and paint all ready for your outdoor living space, let’s paint your porch by following this easy step-by-step method.

1. Clean the Porch Floor and Edges

You will need to properly clean your porch with water and remove any loose debris before you can paint. But before you break out the hose, use a putty knife to knock off any loose paint. 

When you’re ready to wash the porch floor … 

  • Use a garden hose and scrub brush if you’re painting a wood floor (skip the pressure washer since it can damage wood).

  • If you’re cleaning a concrete porch, opt for a pressure washer. 

Don’t have the tools to pressure-wash your porch? You can hire a local pressure washer to do the job for you.

2. Give the Porch a Day or Two to Dry Out

Assuming that you’ve hand-washed your wooden porch floor—or pressure washed if it’s a concrete porch—you’ll still want to make sure you have a moisture-free surface before starting to paint. 

Moisture beneath the paint will cause bubbling and peeling as the temperature shifts throughout the year; if you don’t let all the moisture dry first, your paint job is guaranteed to fail. 

If you’re unsure and don’t have a moisture sensor, give it a solid seven days of dry weather before moving to the painting phase of your porch project. 

3. Prime the Floor

Most modern porch paints don’t require a primer if you’re simply painting over the top of old paint. However, if you’re starting from scratch with bare wood or a concrete porch, it’s always wise to use a good primer. Or if you have spots of peeling paint that you’ve recently restored, now is the time to put down a quick coat or two of good quality primer. 

Generally, an oil primer is better than latex paint for longevity, though oil paint isn’t nearly as eco-friendly.

4. Cut in the Edges

After the primer on your porch floor has dried, take a brush and cut in the edges of the whole porch twice before you move on to the next step. 

Since latex paint dries so quickly, you can easily apply a second coat of your cut-in within an hour. Feather off the brush marks into the center of the porch, so the topcoat blends much more smoothly when you apply it. 

5. Apply a Topcoat to the Porch 

Now that you have a clean, painted framework around the outside of your porch, it’s time to get to work on the main section. Using a large nap roller, work in sections and paint yourself out of the corners. If you’re comfortable using a larger 9-inch roller, this is a great time to save some effort and slog on the paint. 

If you’re using a bold color, plan on applying a minimum of two coats to your porch floor with a medium thickness as you go to the layers. You’ll often need a third coat for white paint and other lighter colors. 

DIY Porch Painting vs. Hiring a Pro

On the spectrum of DIY projects, cracking the code of how to paint a porch is relatively straightforward. If you have the time and patience to learn how to do it, this is a project you can do yourself. If you’d rather just go the pro route, you can hire a local painter to do the job in a day or two for you.

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