Tuesday, July 27, 2010

deck staining 101

i should say that j and i are no where near being deck-staining experts. in fact, we are anything but; however, we took on the challenge of staining our deck this weekend and despite the heat advisories and a million bug bites we did it!

here's a look into the process.

before shots:

1. first we pressure-washed our deck. we figured pressure washing would make a difference but we never thought it would instantly look like a new deck! although we needed to use high pressure to get the years of dirt and grime off our deck, i wouldn't necessarily suggest using high pressure because it will require sanding the wood afterwards.

here's pictures of the deck during and after pressure washing:

total difference, huh?

2. then due to some splintering of the wood (due to the pressure washing), we had to go back and sand a lot of the railings. this was NOT fun. thankfully we had two hand sanders and that made the process a bit faster. i wanted to give up a few times, but i'm glad we didn't. you can see the difference sanding makes below*:


3. after we finished sanding, we had to make sure we had a rain-free weekend. considering we've had numerous summertime isolated shower surprises lately, we had to be very careful. we decided this past weekend was a best bet and made sure we had no plans. the next step was use behr's 2-in-1 wood cleaner and brightener. we scrubbed this on friday night and rinsed the deck fully of the cleaner. and then we were ready to stain once the deck was dry the next morning! i should say that the cleaner takes a great deal of rinsing to get fully out of the wood and it is important that it is completely rinsed!

here is a picture of our deck after being pressure-washed, sanded, and cleaned:

now it's time to stain!

4. we woke up early on saturday to start staining. we ended up using behr's premium semi-transparent stain in the oxford brown color. we intially bought 1 gallon to start (ended up buying 6 by the time the job was done!) we had two 3-inch brushes (flat edge and edger), a garden sprayer, and a roller with a long handle. we started with the railings first and then after 1-2 hours, we did the recommended second coat on the railings. the first coat took so long that as soon as we were done with the first coat, we immediately were able to start the second.

pictures of the railing being stained:

5. after mini-breaks here and there (with lots of gatorade and watermelon) to avoid heat exhaustion, we finally got to staining the floor**. the garden sprayer we got did NOT work so we ended up having to have j roll the surface while i went behind and blending everything in with a brush. it took a long time but at least we knew it'd help the stain penetrate the wood. we quickly realized we had made an error, we started off staining horizontally instead of vertically WITH the grain. you can see the errors slightly in the picture below. we changed our methods but definitely had to go back with a second coat and blend the overlapping again once it was all completed.
pictures after the first part of the deck floor was stained:

6. lastly, we woke up on sunday early again (no fun for weekends) to get back to work. after getting more stain from home depot, we got started immediately on the other side of the deck, stairs, and bottom of deck (including posts). we may have to do a third coat on the deck floor without the railing because it is slightly lighter, but here is the [currently] finished deck:

overall, it took us 12 hours on saturday (i'm not exaggerating) and 7 hours on sunday. yes, that is 19 hours total! we had a few mishaps and beginner issues, but in the end, it looks really great. the biggest lessons we learned was that when they say to not stain when it's over 90 degrees farenheit, you should probably listen. we had to go super fast at times to keep a wet edge in the stain and avoid brush strokes being visible. plus, you almost pass out when it's too hot. so don't tackle a huge project like this in the dead-middle of summer. also, having more than 2 people for a deck as big as ours would have been nice. we can both hardly walk today. good times!

*sorry for the cloudiness of the picture. this is what happens when it is humid as hell outside.
**it is important to note that you always want to stain from the top-down (railing to floor) to avoid dripping on already stained surfaces.

we still have to stain our mailbox, birdhouse stand, and our outdoor furniture, but there's no rush with those.

the rush behind the deck was because our 2 wonderful friends return from germany this week and the plan is a cookout chez nous on saturday so we wanted to ensure the deck was done and fully sealed before we had loads of people walking on it. i can't wait to have everyone over!

i know this isn't the best recap of the deck staining process; however, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me!

the next big projects include building a pergola on the open side of our deck (originally built by the old owners to be a screened-in porch), paint the whole house (this is definitely NOT going to be a summer project as initially planned), and put up hammock posts. i honestly can't wait to have more of an incentive to be outside in our own back yard. i get so happy just thinking about the end result!!!

what house projects do you currently have planned or in-progress? ♥

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