Confused about how to select the best paint, stain, or deck material for your outdoor space? Use these tricks and ideas to pick deck colors that are an ideal match.

By Kelly Roberson and Jessica Bennett
Updated June 04, 2020
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Done well, deck colors can help to enhance your outdoor space, complement your home, and add visual interest. Choosing the wrong color or material, however, could turn your deck into a distraction as well as a maintenance nightmare. The ideal deck color scheme will depend on a variety of factors, including your home's existing color palette and exterior features, as well as the deck's level of use. Use these tips on choosing deck colors to select the paint, stain, or material that works best for your lifestyle and your home.

Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

1. Match Deck Colors to Your Home's Exterior

Your deck colors should be a cohesive part of your home's exterior color scheme. To help guide your choice of paint or stain colors, consider the existing shades on your siding, trim, and other exterior elements. You can pull out one of the hues used elsewhere on the facade for your deck or select an accent color that blends with your home's style. If you're updating your home's exterior as well as the deck, be sure to include deck colors when deciding on your new overall color palette.

2. Consider Your Deck Material

The amount of flexibility you have with your deck colors depends on the material. Wood and composite decking, for example, can be painted or stained in a wide variety of colors. You can also stain decks made of concrete, but brick pavers are generally static in color. If you want the ability to easily change your deck colors when desired, wood decks typically offer the most options for paint and stain colors and the simplest application.

3. Apply Deck Colors with Wear and Tear in Mind

Different parts of your deck get used in different ways, so both the shade and finish should be considerations in choosing your deck color. Stairs have much more traffic than railings, for example, so they might need a more durable seal or require restaining more often. Remember that all decks need to be regularly cleaned, and any finish will require periodic upkeep and re-application.

Credit: Kimberly Gavin

4. Use Color Wheel Rules

For the best house and deck color combination, consider a scheme that consists of three colors: a dominant, secondary, and accent color. You can use these colors on new or existing siding, trim, doors, decking, outdoor furniture, and more. To help you build a pleasing palette, follow the rules of the color wheel, either with a combination that's analogous or complementary. It is a good idea to replicate that same setup in your deck colors and design, with a dominant tone as the main hue and two additional colors in supporting roles, such as with outdoor pillows, planters, and other accessories.

5. Complement Surrounding Landscaping

The landscape surrounding your deck can also influence the color choices you make. A mostly green landscape could prompt you to pick deck colors (such as red or orange) that complement that dominant hue, while a colorful space might invite a more neutral deck palette of brown or gray tones. Additionally, if your deck connects directly with your home, you can also take cues from your indoor flooring to suggest the best color for your deck.

6. Test Deck Colors First

Before you choose a paint, stain, or other finish, try out the finish on a small, inconspicuous area of the deck. Step back and view it from different angles and at different times of the day to see how it looks. You can also find some retailers that allow you to try out the color virtually using an online tool. Keep in mind that some deck materials might impact the deck color. Wood decking, for example, sometimes has a tint that influences how a particular stain color looks.

Stain also looks different based on the color and opacity you choose. A more opaque finish will usually need to be reapplied more often. A clear stain will allow the wood's natural color to shine, while tinted supplies just a bit of color. Semitransparent stain supplies color and can also add a more consistent finish. A solid stain will allow very little of the wood's own color to show through.

Credit: Laurie Black

Deck Color Ideas

• Dark gray: Gray can work well with either cool or warm color schemes. Keep in mind that a darker hue can also hide footprints and dirt better.

• Dark blue: Perfect for cottage or Cape Cod-style homes, this classic shade works well with a variety of secondary tones, including lighter blue, cream, beige, and even more playful hues such as purple and pink.

• Green: A popular interior 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 many colors including taupe, black, and red. Shades of green range from soft sage to deep forest green.

• Black or chocolate brown: A dark tone such as black or chocolate brown is a mostly neutral color that works well in small spaces. These shades might be overpowering on a very large deck, however, and they will typically absorb more heat from the sun's rays.

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