The Paint Color That Makes Your Deck Look Instantly Dated

published May 23, 2024
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Human hand painting a house deck
Credit: Michal Urbanek

It’s about to be summer, and whether you’re looking for deck design ideas that will instantly upgrade your outdoor space for your own enjoyment, or to entice a potential homebuyer, it’s the right season to consider overhauling your deck or yard space. After all, it’s best to show off your outdoor space to potential buyers on a sunny, warm day, and having it freshly decorated with the current outdoor decor trends could instantly up your yard appeal. But what outdoor deck paint colors could instantly date your home? Some real estate experts weighed in.

Brian Mollo, the CEO of Trusted House Buyers, a San Diego home-buying group, says there are a few reasons (besides hosting happy hours) why the color of your deck matters. “Your home’s exterior is the first impression for a buyer, so any exterior eyesores can be off-putting,” he explains. “In today’s real estate market, homeowners need to keep the concept of digital curb appeal in mind also, as most buyers look for homes online first.” 

To have your property do well in a modern and digital world, there are certainly deck paint colors to avoid. Luckily, there are fresher alternative colors to choose, and additional factors to consider as you complete the landscape of your deck for maximum appeal.

Avoid outdated colors like light and dark browns.

There was a time when light and dark brown were beloved by homeowners and homebuyers alike, circa the early ’00s. Unfortunately that’s no longer the case. “Trends have changed, and this can make even a newly built deck look very outdated,” says Mollo. It’s easy to see this while walking around your neighborhood — while a modern home may play with deck colors such as black or gray, older homes can be spotted simply by a light or dark brown painted deck.

Although earth tones are coming back in style, they’re best presented in cooler shades, according to real estate agent at Compass Kori Sassower. “Think: white oak, not red oak,” she explains, noting that wood isn’t the best choice on its own. “The actual wood material makes things look dated, and people often want composite material decks now.” Unlike individually sourced materials, composite decking is made from a combination of wood and plastic, and appears more stylish than traditional wooden decks. If you’d like a more modern deck design, you may prefer pastel colors or composite hardwood.

Consider pastels and light hardwood.

There is an endless list of benefits that come with painting your deck a pastel color scheme. Pastel blue, for example, is taking off, according to Mollo. “Whether as a primary color or an accent, lighter blue shades have the added benefit of not absorbing a ton of heat,” he says. 

Although you’ll achieve a modern touch to your home’s exterior, Mollo notes that there’s one catch to choosing color — especially lighter ones. “It won’t be the best in terms of hiding stains and blemishes, but it is an attractive color that stands out.” Perhaps your deck is reserved for special occasions or hosting large gatherings — in that case, there shouldn’t be a high risk of stains and blemishes on the pastel blue.

If you happen to use your deck frequently, live in harsh temperatures, or are simply opposed to pastel blue, then light hardwood is a more sustainable option to consider. According to Sassower, hardwoods such as French white oak and natural white oak are low-maintenance materials that can be produced as composite hardwood and make for the perfect faux-wood decking. In case you come across any stains or blemishes, they’re also easy to clean.

Take note of your home’s exterior colors.

Before you finalize the deck paint color, there’s one more thing to consider that you may have forgotten: Complementing the exterior colors of your home. Sassower notes that, for example, a tan house should be painted with warm tones, whereas a white or gray house should be painted with cooler tones. Similarly, Mollo explains that while a black deck won’t look great on a black house, it would complement and modernize homes with a lighter color palette. 

You’ll also want to compare warm and cool tones depending on your geographical location. For homeowners in warmer climates, cool colors won’t absorb too much heat, while dark colors will get hot very fast. On the other hand, dark colors can hide the wear and tear that comes with extreme temperatures and appears obvious in cool colors. Once you figure out your priorities, you’ll be ready to select your new deck paint color.