Confused about how to select the best hues for your outdoor spaces? Here's how to pick deck colors that are a perfect match.

By Kelly Roberson

Done well, deck colors can help to enhance your curb appeal, complement your home, and add visual interest. Done poorly, and deck colors may be a distraction as well as a maintenance nightmare. Here's how to choose the deck colors that work well for your lifestyle and your home.

What's your home's exterior palette? If you have an existing combination of colors that you love, then choosing your deck colors will be easier. If you're updating your home's exterior facade as well as the deck, then your task is more involved. Either way, your deck color should be a seamless part of your exterior, not a jarring visual distraction. 

What's your deck material? What your deck is made of influences how much flexibility you have with your deck colors. Wood and composite, for example, can be painted or stained; concrete can be stained; and brick pavers are generally static in color.

Think about wear and tear. Different parts of your deck get used in different ways. Stairs have much more traffic than railings, so both the finish and the color should be considerations in choosing your deck color. Maintenance will also be a factor. All decks need to be regularly cleaned, and any finish will require periodic upkeep and re-application.

Use color wheel rules. The existing or proposed color scheme of your home probably has three colors: a dominant, secondary, and accent. That color scheme probably also follows some color wheel rules, either with a combination that's analogous or complementary. It is a good idea to replicate that same setup in your deck colors, with a dominant tone as the main hue and two additional colors in supporting roles.

What about the landscape and the indoor flooring? The landscape surrounding your deck also influences the color choices you make. A mostly green landscape may prompt you to pick deck colors that complement that dominant hue, while a colorful space may invite a more neutral deck palette. In addition, if your deck connects directly with your home, you may have indoor flooring that suggests the best color for your deck.

Test, test, test. Before you choose a paint, stain, or other finish, find a small area of the deck, and try out the finish. Step back and view it from different angles and at different times of the day to see how it might look. There are also some free Internet-based programs that enable you to loosely replicate a deck color scheme. Keep in mind that some deck materials may impact the deck color. Wood, for example, may have a tint that influences how a particular stain color looks.

Stain looks different based on the color and opacity you choose. The more opacity, the sooner you'll have to reapply the finish. Clear will allow the wood's natural color to shine, while tinted supplies just a bit of color. Semitransparent supplies color and may also add a more consistent finish. A solid stain will allow very little of the wood's own color to show through.

Get inspired by deck colors.

• Dark gray: Gray can work well with either cool or warm color schemes. A darker hue like this will also hide footprints better.


• Dark blue: Perfect for cottage or Cape Cod style homes, it is a color that works well with a variety of secondary tones -- blue, cream, beige, even more playful hues such as purple and pink.


• Green: A popular home paint choice, green is a lovely tone for a deck color. It works well with traditional facades as well as more contemporary homes and can be paired with everything including: taupe, black, and red. Various tones are good options, including sage and forest green.


• Black or chocolate brown: A dark tone such as black or chocolate brown is a mostly neutral color that does well in small spaces. It may be overpowering on a very large deck.

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