How Did Those Brown Deck Railings Hold Up This Winter? An Update!

Last summer I shared an issue I was having with my white painted deck railings. I love having a white porch and loved my white deck railings, but…

Screened Porch Dining, Blue & White Table


…I was not at all happy with how the tops of the deck railings were always looking. Even after having them freshly painted, they would be back looking like this in no time at all! Argggg!

Paint Rails Brown to Disguise Dirt and Mildew


It’s pretty much impossible to keep the top railing on a white deck looking nice when you have big trees close by as they are in my backyard. Once they do get stained by the overhead trees, it’s impossible to get them even close to white again without a high-pressure washer and a lot of bleach.

Paint White Railing Brown to Cover Dirt & Stain from Trees Overhead


In THIS  previous post, I shared this inspiration photo. I’m not normally a two-tone kinda gal, but I was pretty desperate to find a solution to my forever messy deck railings.

Paint Deck Rails Brown to Hide Dirt Between Cleanings


Here’s how one of the decks looked after having the railing painted brown. I was surprised how much I liked the look! I really didn’t mind the brown, two-tone look at all. But the real test was how it was going to weather the fall and winter.

Deck Stained with Painted Railing


After having the decks painted last summer, I purchased new deck furniture when it went on clearance at Home Depot.

Deck Makeover with Painted Deck Rails, Hampton Bay Oak Cliff Furniture


Winter is almost over, although it’s been pretty cold this week. I spent some time outside yesterday blowing off the decks. While outside, I noticed the new deck furniture is dirty from sitting under the nearby trees all winter. As soon as it gets a bit warmer, I’ll give it a good cleaning for spring.


Tree Debris On Deck Furniture, Before Cleaning


So how do the deck railings look? I’m sure they are filthy, but they look amazingly good! Yay!!!

Painted Deck Rails


Here are a few closer views…

Brown Deck Rails at the End of Winter


The white spots are probably pollen, it has already started here due to the warm temps we had for several weeks in February and early March. If this railing were still painted white…

Brown Deck Rail


…this is how it would look right now because this is the same railing in a photo from last year.

Paint White Railing Brown to Cover Dirt & Stain from Trees Overhead


The only negative to having the brown railings is bird poop shows up more noticeably, but I can totally live with cleaning off the occasional white bird poop if I don’t have to deal with the above!

Cleaning Deck Rails


On the other deck where I have 4 feeders hanging from the pergola, there are a few more bird droppings. I haven’t cleaned the railings all winter, so it’s really not that bad considering.

Bird Droppings on Brown Deck Rails


They washed right off with a little Dawn detergent and a scrubbing wand.

Cleaning Away Bird Droppings on Brown Deck Rails


I am so, so happy with my decision to have the railings painted brown. I can’t wait until the weather warms up a bit so I can get out here and give the furniture and railings a good cleaning for the spring-summer season. It will be nice not having to have them professionally pressure-washed this year, only to have them looking filthy again a month later.

Screened Porch, Decks, Deck Furniture


So, even though I know the deck railings probably look like this right now in reality…

Paint Rails Brown to Disguise Dirt and Mildew


…all I’m seeing is this! So happy! 🙂

Brown Deck Rails at the End of Winter


And soon it will look like this. Come on, spring! I’m so ready to see green, green, green again!

New Deck Furniture with Red Cushions, Oak Cliff Collection


If you have white deck railings and struggle with keeping them that way, I can definitely recommend painting them brown to camouflage the dirt that’s inevitable when you have a lot of trees in your backyard. You’ll just need to sand and prime the railings first with a really good primer if they’ve been previously stained.

Hope this info is helpful if you have been dealing with this issue as I have for the last few years.

Happy Spring, dear Friends!

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  1. Brown tops was an excellent idea; they are looking pretty good. And all those summer photos give so much hope for green trees again.

  2. I love the two tone look. I prefer the way you did it, with brown tops and white balustrades. It’s a very pretty look, imo and well worth not having to deal with the mildew and yuck from the trees. 😀 Glad it worked out for you.

  3. Love the brown railings! Always had that problem on my last screen porch…tree pollen would drift in, rain spots, ugh! I was always taking a rag and spray cleaner to the railings and base. They were white vinyl, and wiped off easily, but still… Now in an apartment with a screened in patio and there is no railing and everything is dark brown. No mess that I can see. And, I am with you…it is cold, still snowing here in PA, and maybe more on the way…but I am itching to get out there and clean off the furniture, put out some flowers, and enjoy the screened in wonderfulness !

  4. Your deck looks wonderful and I think I prefer the two-tone.
    I had a hard time keeping my eyes from wandering over to your bottle tree, it’s beautiful! 🙂

  5. A good decision! It looks nice. I usually like winter and feel better in the colder weather, but this year I am glad it is almost over. We have a brand new deck with iron railings…easy to keep clean! We also went with a trex type floor, no upkeep, a pretty light gray. It is on the south side and the colorado sun is killer on wood. Your furniture is nice and cheerful too.

    • If you live in one of those states that’s had so much snow, I can totally understand why! I can’t believe how much snow I’ve been seeing in pics on Instagram! Trex is such a cool product! I love the Trex decks I’ve seen when on home tours!

  6. We’re drowning in oak pollen here on the Suncoast! It lasts almost a month, and the cars are a sorry sight. I can’t complain, however, as tens of phalaeopsis orchids of all colors are starting to bloom, and the Minerva amaryllis have huge spikes. I like the brown/white look; I can hear you on that constant battle in the South against trees and black mold. Ugh.

    • We had a touch of pollen a few weeks ago, then it turned cold again. I know the onslaught is coming, though! It lasts about a month here, too. Hope you’re almost through it, Beatrice! The orchids sound beautiful and the amaryllis sound like they will be, too! Yay, Spring! I’m ready for a spring garden tour…won’t be long!

  7. We have the same problem with our front porch rails, brown will match our
    shutters, brick, etc. and I really like the look of your deck. The next time we need to paint I will definitely consider brown.

  8. The brown was the best decision…even though it shows the bird poop!

  9. I do like the two-tone colored deck. I think it breaks up the white nicely and adds a little something extra to the overall look.

  10. Sandy K Park says

    They look wonderful. Can’t wait to see some beautiful table setting out there this year. Good decision.

  11. That was SO a good move…not only the maintenance but design aesthetic as well…gives those railings some pizazz!! franki

  12. I love the two toned look, plus it makes so much sense to paint the tops.

  13. I too like the brown railings as not only are they lower maintenance as you have pointed out but I also feel that they blend in beautifully with your dark roofing. -Brenda-
    P.S.: I am envying you Susan as it appears it looks like Spring in Georgia whereas where I am, its been heavily snowing for the past two days regardless that the 1st Day of Spring is supposedly only seven days away. Argh!

  14. Elizabeth says

    They look really sharp. For those who do not want to paint their rails and rail tops try using wet and forget outdoor cleaner or 30 seconds outdoor cleaner.

  15. What a great idea! I loved seeing the railings. We have struggled with the dirty railing for years.

  16. Which paint did you use, Susan?

    • The company I used recommended Sherwim William Super Deck 9600…you can see it here:
      The color I chose is called: Lodge Brown. That’s what’s on the deck and the railings. They primed the railings first, I think. The owner of the company said that’s what he has on his deck.
      I was using a semi-transparent on the deck, but it just didn’t hold up to cleaning and I was having to have the deck restained every year. So hoping this will hold up to cleaning much better and hopefully it won’t need it as often.

  17. Jane Franks says

    Hi Susan: Your railings did fabulously well! What a relief, huh? Have you considered getting furniture covers for your outdoor furniture over the winter? Or maybe you use the deck some even in winter since you are in the South. I like Spring okay, but I always dread the bugs again. We’ve got ants already! Ugh! I have a scheme to get rid of them, but I’m not excited about spending my time that way. I’m trying to get a book written, and published!! And I have two reasons for not getting pest control. 1. I can’t afford it! 2. I don’t like all that “stuff” sprayed in my house! So, spring is okay, but I’m really a Fall person when all the critters die again!! But I’m happy for you that you are enjoying everything coming to life! And before we know it, Spring and Summer will have come and gone, and it will be Fall again!! 🙂 I know, I’m in my own universe! But I do have a few others in my camp!! I guess I need to trade places with Brenda, above. I love snow! Anytime it wants to come, it’s welcome at my house!! Jane xo

    • I should look into that, that would be really smart to do. Thanks for suggesting it, Jane. I’d love for this furniture to last a long time.
      Oh, ants are so persistent. Make sure you don’t have them living a wall somewhere. Seems like I read they will sometimes do that.

      • Jane Franks says

        I think these ants are living in the walls! They come out at the same place every year. I should have a professional spray I think. Any suggestions? By the way, after my ranting about winter and snow yesterday, I’ll have to concede that the trees flowering in Fayetteville and the forsythia coming out are awfully pretty! We do have long, beautiful springs here. Once I get past the ant shock again!! Oh, well. We have a lot to be thankful for compared to a lot of what the world is dealing with. xo

        • Jane Franks says

          These are little tiny ants; not those carpenter ants, thank goodness. They don’t seem to eat anything; just wander around and end up in window boxes and large flower urns and in the garden beds. I usually can control them and when it gets warmer they are gone.

        • I would definitely call a professional pest control company. They will know exactly what to do because that’s a pretty common problem around here.

  18. We replaced all our railings and decks last year with fake wood. It looks great and maintenance is practically nil. Porches can wear you out!

  19. Marlyn Bisher says

    Good idea! I think that was a good solution.
    My challenge is cleaning my white outdoor fans. Any good ideas?

    • I have two ceiling fans on the porch, and since they are outdoor fans with plastic-type blades, I just wipe them down with a wet rag each spring after pollen season has passed. Are the blades on your fans plastic? I’m not sure if all outdoor fans have plastic blades, but I think most do to avoid the drooping/warping you get with regular wood fan blades due to humidity/heat.

  20. The brown looks great with the white. I have found that Srubbing bubbles for showers works great on outdoor mold and dirt. It is easy to use. Don’t use in bright sunlight as it contains bleach. I am so ready for spring

  21. You must have Hackberry trees near your deck.

    • I definitely have Oaks and Poplars…and the trees that drop those prickly little balls.

      • Jane Franks says

        Those are sweet gum trees! We had them in a former house/yard, and they were all over the place! Though I did collect the “nice” ones in the fall one time and sprayed them gold for winter arrangements — when I was younger and had more time/energy and less sense!! 🙂

        • Oh, yeah…that’s right! That totally rings a bell now. Maybe I should be saving them to do that. 🙂

          • Jane Franks says

            The nice thing about using sweet gum balls for decorations is that you can just stick them into greens and they stay, like Velcro. No need of glue! I bet you’ll come up with something cute with them!

  22. Cyndi Raines says

    I knew the brown lodge would look great! Glad it has worked for you. Ours decks, corner posts and stairs are hunter green and the railings and spindles are white. Next time we stain, I may consider staining the top rail the hunter green as well since ours can get ugly also. Yes, we are loking forward to Spring and being outside more. Eager to put the wicker furniture back out on our covered front porch with the swing!

    • Thanks, Cyndi! I love the color, too. It looked sooo dark on the sample sheet of colors in the store…glad I took a chance and used it. I love, love, love Hunter Green, what a great choice!

  23. Shirley ore says

    Love the brown railing . Looks very nice….

  24. Looks good, Susan. I hope it continues to hold up. We’re due to have our gates re-stained this year so I pinned this. What we’ve used in the past has held up, but it was a blended mix to match our brick. I’m hoping we can find one already on the color charts….that works just as well.

  25. We have vinyl railings and lots of it!!! I get the same black and gray mold or grime on the tops, but have to wipe it all down by hand every early spring! It’s a pain!! Yours look very nice. I really like the brown tone with the white. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Thank you for posting. I’m going to do the same as you did. Looks great!

  27. Hey! Love the two tone look! What white paint did you use? The brand and name of white color. Thanks!

  28. I have had a picture of this in my mind and I found you! Thank you.
    I know how great it looks and I am on my way out to the cabin to start.
    A friend mentioned doing the tops white would end in a nasty look and I now see what he meant.
    I already have nice brown posts that I didn’t want to touch, white spindles that I need to freshen up and will now do the top the same brown colour as the posts.
    I am very excited for it to look as good as yours.
    Bonnie from SK Canada

    • Thanks, Bonnie! So glad this helped. I know it helps whenever you can find a photo of something similar to what you’re thinking of doing. Good luck with your cabin project! I love trees, but boy, do they make a mess of our decks! lol

  29. What were the names of the colors please? We just love it

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