As a refresher, here is the deck pre-stain and post-scrub:
And a side-by-side comparison, for fun:
I originally had a genius idea for the stain: I wanted to find a really close match to our walnut-stained maple hardwood flooring so it would look like the house extended outside. When I looked at stain samples, however, my bubble was burst because the closest matches just looked really drab (and really red).
No problem, I had a plan B: a pale, driftwood grey. Something about this fresh lake air has me wanting everything to look driftwood-y, have you noticed? The plan for kitchen counters (but luckily the white worked better), and then the credenza top... I'm really feeling grey right now. I also figured that grey stain would be forgiving and hide any irregularities in how the wood absorbed the stain, because there isn't too great a contrast between the unstained wood and the grey stain. If a little natural wood peeked through...meh.
I decided that variations would only enhance the (artfully) weathered, driftwood look I wanted. Genius, right? A design scheme that lends itself well to colossal screw ups! Unfortunately, I didn't account for the stain complementing the existing exterior because I had hoped we'd have time to paint the house almost-black this year. I'm not loving the grey with the concrete faux stone, but it doesn't loo bad either. Hopefully next spring a darker exterior will materialize and my plan will come together.
At that point I'll also garden a bit (what's a weed?) and then (more excitingly) style the deck a bit! The thought of sewing outdoor pillows and accessorizing will keep me going through the winter. We pushed our patio table to the side and use the built-in bench in lieu of some of the chairs because this way it's functional but doesn't block a view. Positioned elsewhere it's all we saw. Plus this way we have room for our patio loungers for weekend reading!
I chose CIL brand Exterior wood stain (in semi-transparent), from Canadian Tire, and was pleased with the application. It took almost three gallons and three days to apply the stain, however, so I only got one coat on. The maximum applications recommended is two coats.
There are some variations in the stain intensity, but that's 100% attributed to my application and the wood. A second coat would even out the stain, but it would be more opaque. I'm going to leave it, and possibly apply another coat next season. We've had some rainfall recently, and the stain is causing water to bead up on the deck. This means it's working well to protect the wood, so I'm beaming with pride.
Once again, here's the before:
Applying the stain was straightforward: I just brushed it on with a large brush, keeping a wet edge and working in small sections. The stain had a nice consistency: not too thick, not too drippy. It was easy to clean up (just soap and water). We used three brushes: a big thick wide one, a 2" angled brush, and one with a super short handle for tight spots. This combo was ideal.
We also tried the Wagner Deck Mate stain applicator and it was terrible!! No matter how much I fiddled with the settings, the stain either gushed out or barely flowed. The pad made it streaky and uneven. I was so disappointed, but it was a valuable life lesson: in DIY, as in life, there are no short cuts!
I did figure out some tips (most of them near the end), so hopefully next time I stain the deck it will go even more smoothly:
- The best time to stain a deck is spring or fall when the humidity is low and it's not scorchingly hot. If it's too hot or humid, the stain might dry too quickly (or slowly), ruining the finish
- Having a small broom is handy to brush out debris from the cracks - even if the deck was recently cleaned and swept
- Starting on the most tedious sections (while energy levels are high) makes this task easier
- To stain railings, having one person applying the stain to the front and another on the opposite side works well because each can catch the others' drips - this makes the railing process go a lot more smoothly
- Working away from the house seems like common sense but it's easy to loose sight of an exit strategy in the heat of the moment
- Working in long sections - the entire length of a few boards, not 1/3 of the length of 6+ boards at once would ensure a more even application (I learned this on the second last board)
- Buying a set of cushy knee pads isn't a waste of money
- Following the manufacturer's instructions to the letter is always a good idea!
I'm happy! The deck looks fresher. And hopefully the deck will last longer with this protective coat (which will protect against rot, mildew, cracking, and more). One thing I hadn't thought about was how much the grey would brighten the house from inside. It reflects more light inside (if that's possible), which makes me think a darker stain would have had the opposite effect, so I'm even happier my walnut-stain idea was dead in the water.
We still need to re-build the deck step and next year I'm going to paint the lattice black so it fades into the abyss that is the space beneath the deck. Oh yeah, and garden...
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Canadian Tire. With the help of my local Canadian Tire paint department, all products were chosen by me. I was not encouraged to choose a certain brand or use certain products. I was not asked to provide a review of any of the products used. I was simply asked to stain my deck and show it off! All opinions and editorial decisions are my own.
P.S. I'm over at Cuckoo 4 Design, gabbing about Szuka for Julia's famed Living Pretty with Your Pets series!