How to Keep a Wood Deck Cool (6 Easy Tips)


This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Relaxing on your deck in the summer is great, but walking on the hot wood deck with bare feet is unpleasant and very uncomfortable. You want quick relief, but you don’t have a lot of money to renovate your deck with a cooler material, such as vinyl composite or PVC decking material.

What do you do?

Here are 6 ways to keep a wood deck cool:

  • Put down outdoor rugs in high traffic areas.
  • Set up patio umbrellas.
  • Install a retractable awning.
  • Plant trees near your deck.
  • Add tall plants near the seating areas.
  • Paint your deck a lighter color.

Keep reading to learn how to use the tips mention above to keep your wood deck cool during the hot summer months.

1. Put down outdoor rugs in high traffic areas.

The quickest and cheapest way to cool down your deck is to put down an outdoor rug in the high traffic areas and seating area. You can find outdoor rugs at most home furnishing stores for very little money. While you can use indoor rugs, they are not made for multiple weather conditions and will deteriorate faster than outdoor rugs.

Choose lighter colored rugs, as they don’t absorb the heat like the darker rugs, and will feel somewhat cooler. Furthermore, outdoor rugs are durable and can remain intact under higher traffic, which make them perfect for your deck. An additional benefit is that if you choose the right rug, it can add a luxurious atmosphere to your outdoor space.

Besides carpet-like rugs, you can also use bamboo, polyester, jute, or even plastic rugs.

Plastic rugs might not sound like a great choice, but they’re surprisingly easy to clean. However, they can get slippery after a rainstorm and may not be practical for all-weather use.

Bamboo is really the best outdoor material, as it dries quickly and is non-slip. If you’re looking for a durable and cooling bamboo rug, I recommend this 5′ X 8′ 100% Natural Bamboo Area Rug. It’s an effective and visually appealing addition to a wood deck, and it will definitely keep your feet cool during hot summer days.

2. Set up patio umbrellas.

Another quick way to cool down your outdoor space is to set up a few patio umbrellas. Most umbrellas come connected to patio tables, but they also come separately with an independent stand. Patio table and umbrella sets are great for having a cool space to eat and enjoy your backyard barbecue with your family.

If you don’t want to buy an entire table set, however, separate patio umbrellas will do the job just as well. They can also be set in several different areas of your deck to create more shade to cool your deck.

Furthermore, patio umbrellas come in a wide range of colors, so you can coordinate them with your outdoor rugs. As most patio umbrellas are affordable, you could get two or three, depending on how large your deck is and how much of the deck is in the sun during the day.

3. Install a retractable awning.

Retractable awnings became popular in the 1990s due to the SunSetter awning commercial that aired in heavy rotation. They are an affordable way to provide shade to your deck while the sun is out but can be rolled back up on cloudy days.

A retractable awning is usually installed on the side of your house over your deck and can be extended or retracted with the use of either a motor or a manual rod. With a retractable awning, if you’re out on your deck and it starts raining, you won’t have to immediately rush into the house like you would without it.

4. Plant trees near your deck.

While this may not be an immediate solution, you can plant quick-growing trees near your deck, and as they grow, they will start giving your deck shade within a few short years.

Common trees that grow quickly include:

Planting any one of these trees will give you the shade you need to cool down your wood deck and create a pleasant getaway right at home.

If you are going to live in your home for the long term, try planting a few evergreen trees to create a variety of shade options through trees.

5. Add tall plants to the seating areas.

While waiting for your trees to give enough shade, why not install some tall plants? Large plants placed strategically around your deck will help cool it down and provide beauty to your backyard space.

Choose decorative planters that fit with the theme of your outdoor space, while matching the size of your plants. Not only will this provide much-needed shade for your deck, and cool it down, it will also make your space inviting and relaxing.

The best shade plants for outdoor patios or decks include:

  • Tropical plants, such as Elephant Ears or banana leaves,
  • English Ivy,
  • Geraniums, or
  • a Tropical Hibiscus tree.

Many of these plants will grow to between 2-15 feet (0.6-4.75 meters), which provides shade to keep the deck cool. Place these in a row near high traffic areas to keep your walkway cool.

6. Paint your deck a lighter color.

If you feel ambitious, painting your deck a lighter color can cool down your deck. As lighter colors reflect light, rather than absorb it like darker colors, it can keep the heat away.

When choosing your paint, be sure to buy oil-based paint so that it will not bubble up or chip once applied. Oil-based paint can also give your deck a smooth finish, especially if the surface is cracked or chipped. All deck paint is 100% acrylic, which means that temperature changes will not affect the painted surface.

Colored stains can also lighten your deck, depending on the color you choose. However, since stains only enhance the color of the wood, it might not lighten up as you want it to, and you will end up wasting time and money.

Light-colored paint that matches your house color may be the best choice if that is the direction you want to go with your deck.

An additional suggestion: Replace your wood deck with vinyl composite material.

If you have more time and money, you may want to look into replacing your wood deck with a vinyl composite “wood,” as this stays cooler in the summer heat. Composite decking looks very similar to wood, but it does not need painting or staining like a wood deck needs. It also stays cooler in the sun.

While it doesn’t rot like ordinary wood, it does scratch more easily than wood, and it can swell with weather fluctuations. However, it does cost quite a bit more money than you may be willing to invest at the moment, but it is something to keep in mind.

A word of caution: vinyl composite decking is more slippery when wet compared to wood.

Conclusion

There you have it–the easiest and most affordable ways to cool down your wood deck. You can also place a large fan on your deck to cool the surrounding air like a cool summer breeze.

Another unique idea is to place solar panels as shade over your deck. Not only does this provide shade, but it can also provide an additional power source for your home in the unfortunate event that your power goes out.

Cooling your deck can be quick, easy, and affordable. Doing even one of these tips will make your deck much more comfortable and inviting.

Nicole Sutton

Nicole is a writer from Missouri who enjoys horseback riding, writing in her journal, and watching reruns of Friends.

Recent Posts