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Advice for HomeownersExterior ColourHow to Choose ColourOne bad decision pays for the designer

The Best Permanent Colour for your Deck, Patio or Balcony

By 09/25/2017July 15th, 202115 Comments

When trying to choose the best permanent colour for your deck or patio, there are a few things you should consider. Here’s how I helped my design client choose the best colour for her composite decking. 


My lovely client Crystal whose interior you saw here, was about to have her exterior painted. She was also choosing a new colour for a wood alternative composite decking which would make it basically maintenance free except for a power wash when necessary.

Here’s a look at her exterior house colour. It’s a shade of brown with a green undertone.

I talked about the existing colour of my patio here a few years ago. And how it was the one colour on my exterior that I didn’t feel compelled to change when we moved in. Although the patio certainly can’t go one more season without being repainted. That will happen in the Spring. (UPDATE: See my freshly painted composite deck here.)

How to coordinate deck colour with your exterior siding.

Okay so we laid out all the samples that Crystal had brought home underneath her existing vinyl colour on her exterior:


After all, a stained cedar would look very similar. Kind of like a pair of jeans (unless you actually had a colour on your house that totally clashed with it), then you would tweak it to one of the other ‘stained wood’ look samples.

After we narrowed it down to our final choice, I brought it inside to see what it looked like with her floors. She is also adding french doors so we thought it would be nice to see what the flow looked like from the inside.

See the photo below. Perfect.


Let’s see some more real-life examples of deck and patio colours, shall we?

Coastal Living Hamptons Showhouse


Did you know that if your trim is white, your railings can also be white?


And your railings can be stained. However, keep in mind that stained wood, and cedar shingles for that matter are extremely high maintenance. Every two years they have to be re-stained if they are under the elements.

Cedar soffits are different because they don’t get rained or snowed on.


So here’s the thing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t PAINT OR STAIN your deck any colour you want, including the trendy neutral of the moment? But if you are about to choose a PERMANENT colour that cannot be changed until you actually take out your $25,000 – $50,000 deck?

Choose deck paint and stain wisely.

If you would like help with the right colour for your exterior, you can find an eDesign consultation for that here.


My first Specify Colour with Confidence event of the season was in Vancouver this past week and here’s the fabulous group which included Nicola Warner who came all the way from New Zealand! I am honoured and thrilled that my work is bringing people from all over the world!

She posted this comment on my Instagram account today:

“It was my absolute pleasure to spend time with you. I’m still not sure how you packed so much information into three days – it was an incredible course and I’d recommend it to anyone. Sitting in my hotel room now and seeing all the undertones!”

PPS. I’m here in Chicago this week for two conferences back to back! First, I’m on the panel with other esteemed colleagues tomorrow at THE BOLD SUMMIT, talking about building your brand!

Then I’ll be at Forefront with Ramit Sethi on the weekend! Such a miracle that two conferences, booked at totally different times, are happening in the same week! Since my travel schedule is so busy this Fall, I’m thrilled that I only needed to book one flight to Chicago!

Will you be there? Come talk to me if you are!

Related posts:

The Right Colour to Paint Your Deck

10 Classic Outdoor Wall Sconces 

How to Pick Exterior Colour without a Designer

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  • Marianne says:

    Oops, Maria: correct you Vancouver dates on your photo to read September not October.

    Great timing on this post; we’re looking at replacing our wooden decking and you’ve helped make our decision much easier already!

  • You might consider recommending or looking st some of the tropical hardwood options like ipe/ironwood. A lot of your higher end clients will want to spring for that. It’s the look of cedar without the need to stain; you can either let it naturally go silver gray (trendy!) or use an oil-based product formulated for tropical hardwoods to maintain a rich wood color that’s kind of like a reddish dark cedar finish (although there is color variance across species and even specific boards). Higher initial cost than cedar but lower maintenance like composite.

    • Also even though I just did my deck and will be sad when I read the post, I would be interested in a discussion of railing style and what’s trending versus timeless and how to tie in with your house

  • Cyndia says:

    I so wish I could do a stain on my porch, but it’s concrete and has been painted. Now the house is green and I don’t know what color to paint the porch! So it’s all chippy and crusty just waiting…

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Once again I’ve been validated by you. I always thought a wood deck should be the same color as your wood floors. It helps your eye travel when you see the deck from inside.
    You are a busy lady! But you’re lucky your conferences are back to back. I wish we could meet up again but I’m leaving this morning on a trip to visit a cousin. Enjoy your stay here & our warm weather.

  • Tina says:

    Yes another design element that needs to be carefully considered to get it right. I think you have the wrong dates on your group picture. Should it be September 20-22? Love all the information that you provide.

  • Betsy Suposs says:

    Great post Maria! Less maintenance with good looking products are what people want but so often they choose wrong and are stuck….and sadly spent alot $$$$

  • Paula says:

    Great information! Confirmed what I just gave a client a few weeks ago!!
    Very exciting about your speaking engagements…have fun in Chicago!! (Again)

  • Nicola Warner says:

    Thanks for the lovely mention, Maria. I had been wanting to do your workshop for ages and am still pinching myself that I was able to. It exceeded all my expectations. All the best for the Bold Summit and the rest of the Specify Colour with Confidence workshops.

  • Gadgie says:

    What company is the composite? Do most companies offer similar color choices?

  • Mid America Mom says:

    Welcome back to Chicago! I also immediately thought light /natural or med. Brown 😉 before reading. Our soon to be (1970s) home is cedar sided and it is painted. Unfortunately the whole exterior is a darker brown including the decks! Inside is done in greys ..

  • Barb says:

    What if the house is brick? Would you pick one to blend with the brick?

    • Maria Killam says:

      It totally depends on the colour of the brick, I think each house would be a custom situation. Thanks for your comment! Maria

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