Monday, July 25, 2016

Slow-Going Deck Makeover Vol. 1

Man, those professional DIY bloggers are no joke. Know how they turn a project in seemingly no time and just whip out home improvements like time and money are no object? Well this ain't that blog and I'm not that girl. In the interest of total honesty, I will tell you that from start-to-finish, our deck makeover took no less than 2 months of weekend work, squeezed in between rainy storms, out-of-town trips, and tons of distractions. 

Let's start at the very beginning...a very good place to start. When we bought our house in the fall nearly two years ago, the owners apparently had not cleaned or stained the deck in at least a couple years. Neither of us knew the first thing about deck care, so when spring rolled around last year, we said, "Oh yeah, we should do that" and promptly ignored it. When this spring came, however, it was clear we couldn't live in blissful ignorance.

Yup, that's rotting wood. We had a deck board that was mushy to the touch, ready to collapse. We had algae growing on several boards, and the majority of the wood was gray.

Algae: friend to no one.

The hardest thing about deck work is finding the right amount of time with the right weather conditions. It shouldn't be too hot or too humid or have any chance of rain. Tough to find a few days that fit that bill in Tidewater Virginia.

First, we cleaned the deck using Thompson's WaterSeal Cleaner, which did an OK job. If I do it again, I'll try the BEHR product, which had everyone in Home Depot gushing when we mentioned we weren't thrilled with our cleaner.

After the cleaning, we used the BEHR wood stain and finish stripper, which you apply with a pump-up sprayer, let sit for several minutes, and then scrub with a deck brush.

Once the scrubbing was done, we sprayed off the liquid and the grime.

Probably my most proud accomplishment was properly measuring a replacement board for our rotted one, and Sean's proudest moment was probably replacing it.

You have to let some time pass between all the chemical processes, so a few days after we did the cleaning, we started staining. It was surprisingly easy. We used cheapo brushes for the boards next to the house and deck painter pads for the remaining boards.

Don't get me wrong: the boards still have some visible wear and tear, but damn a little stain goes a long way! We opted to use stain instead of the currently popular deck paint because, once paint is applied, it will almost inevitably chip.

We saved our bench/railings for another day, and lord almighty, did I scrub that bench to clean it! While I was out of town, Sean surprised me by finishing the deck staining job. He's a saint.

Cue the angels singing. See where that water's just sitting on top of the wood? The power of sealing, baby! Ideally, this stain job should last 3-5 years, and it's absolutely worth the effort. I was so stressed by the condition of the boards last summer; it's a relief to look outside and know it's protected from wear and tear.

Up next: the decorating projects!

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