Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekend Project: Staining the Deck

With the forecast of a few dry days for Bel Air, I decided it might be a good time to stain the deck. Well, actually, my Dad who sits still less than I do decided it was time for me to stain the deck. He stayed at our house to watch our dog while we were in Ocean City and decided to powerwash part of our deck so that all I had to do was finish powerwashing the deck and slap some stain on. As with most projects around the house, it wasn’t quite that easy.

Our deck is in two parts, an upper deck and a lower deck. Both decks have had different stains on them in the past, so powerwashing took the dirt and any mildew off the decks, but I had to use a stripper to get the remaining stain off. The stripper I used was a basic stain/paint stripper available at paint or hardware stores. I had a small plastic bucket I would pour some into, then I used a stiff plastic brush to apply and agitate it into the stain. I really, strongly recommend you use plastic gloves and safety glasses. This stuff is nasty. After about 15 minutes you powerwash the stripper (and hopefully the stain) off the deck. I own an electric powerwasher that works great for cleaning the siding and deck usually, but to get the stain and stripper off I had to use my brothers gas powered powerwasher. It did a great job as long as you make sure to use broad sweeping movements and not stop too close to the wood.

After powerwashing you typically want to wait 2-3 weeks to allow the wood to dry our well since you are really impregnating the wood with water. Once it is good and dry you are ready to start staining. I used a simple semi-transparent cedar stain that is allowable by most all homeowners associations and readily available at the local paint or hardware store. I stained decks and fences in the past using electric sprayers, rollers and brushes. By far, a brush leaves the best finish , it just takes longer. If your deck butts up to your house or concrete you probably want to tape off the exposures so you don’t get stain on stuff other than the wood of the deck. I used simple masking tape.

As you can see in the picture, I started in a corner and just worked across to the opposite corner spreading the stain evenly across the boards. There is an amount that is not too little (all the wood isn’t getting covered) to too much (you lose the grain of the wood) that you want to stay in between when applying the stain. After that it’s all patience and taking your time to cover all the wood and get into all the cracks and crevices. Afterward, clean up with water, keep all traffic off the deck for 24 hours and you should be good to go for another couple years!

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