Outdoor Deck Colors


When you add an outdoor deck, the biggest expense is likely the deck, not its color. Even though the structure itself may outlast the color selection, making a choice that pleases you and lasts for years is a smart investment. Before you choose outdoor deck color, know when and how you will use your deck space, what you want to achieve and your personal color preferences.

Single Color Scheme

  • One approach to deck color is to choose a dominant color from your surrounding yard. The color may be the deep green of nearby trees, the dark brown of the soil or the color of white flowers. Use light or dark variations to add interest, such as an antique white or a light brown deck with dark brown accents. Neutral color choices, such as beige and tan for large surfaces, invite the use of brighter colors for patio furniture and accent pieces.

Harmonious Color Scheme

  • For harmony, use colors that adjoin each other in the rainbow and share common properties. Examples are yellow, orange-yellow, orange, red-orange and red. At a different end of the spectrum, you will find violet, blue-violet and blue. When these primary colors are mixed together, such as red and yellow or blue and red, they form a secondary color, such as orange or violet. Look around at the house or other exterior walls to which the deck attaches, and choose what colors will harmonize. You can also look to the surrounding garden to determine a harmonic combination.

Complementary Color Scheme

  • Colors opposite one another on a color wheel are known as complementary colors. They are in contrast to each other, such as green and red, blue and orange, yellow and violet. The display of complementary colors that comes when flowers bloom is short lived, usually lasting only a few weeks a year. For that reason, using complementary colors to paint a large surface such as a deck can be bold if not overwhelming. Usually, complementary colors are reserved for bright pottery or ceramic plant containers, for patio furniture coverings, sculptures and other ornamental works, while the more muted tones of pale yellow, tan and brown are used for walking surfaces.

Warm Versus Cool Color Scheme

  • Cool or warm colors have different properties to consider when you are choosing a deck color. Cool colors, such as grays and blues, may promote a relaxing and calming atmosphere. Warm colors, such as reds and oranges, may impart a sense of liveliness. Cool may make a space appear larger while warm may make an area appear smaller.

Color Scheme for Use and Seasons

  • Look at the quality of the light and seasonal use. If summer sunlight will fall on the deck, remember that bright sunlight can make colors feel intense. In winter, light is more filtered and the same color can feel more subdued. Before choosing a color, spend a few days watching the deck morning and afternoon to determine when the most light falls on your outdoor space. Check its orientation from east to west and north to south, and determine when you are most likely to occupy the space.

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