Staining the Deck- Round 2

Nov 30, 2019 | Outside, Projects

Updated Supply List at bottom of post!

I stained the deck a few years ago but unfortunately the stain didn’t hold up very well so I had to re-do it.

You can see that the horizontal posts were flaking paint.
The bannister was discolored from the planter boxes.
The white paint had totally worn away on the outside of the bottom step. This is where I plan to use textured deck paint (the gritty kind).

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with having to re-do it so soon and I was kicking myself for not going with relatively maintenance free composite decking at least for the floorboards. But, now that I’ve re-stained the deck, I remembered why I chose wood to begin with- it’s natural looking and beautiful! You just don’t get the same look with composite decking. Also, at the time we were thinking of moving, and the wood was less expensive than composite decking so we thought it was the best option at the time.

I’ve also figured out why the stain didn’t last as long as it should’ve the first time. Initially I applied 2 coats but really, I should’ve followed it up with another coat in the Spring which is what I’m going to do this time around. I’m also going to use textured deck paint for those places that get the most wear (like the white paint on the horizontal part of the steps in the photo below).

Back to the present… I really liked the color scheme that I chose initially so I went with the same colors this time around – Cordovan Brown in semi transparent stain on the deck floor, Navajo White in solid stain on the handrails, and Cordovan Brown in solid stain on the vertical columns.

Prepping the deck is the most important step of this whole process. It’s always the case when painting, that this step, when done right, makes the whole project shine. Because I’m all about making and admitting my mistakes in this home renovation process, I’ll confess that I made a big mistake in prepping the deck… I power washed the wood and not only that, but I let my machismo teenage boys power wash the deck. Unless you are super careful, a power washer is too powerful to strip the stain off the wood without damaging it.

The result- divots and streaking in the wood where the power washer gouged the wood in places.

You can see the divots in the wood from the power washer.

I *should* have used stain stripper instead to get the old, flaky stain off and I did in some places where the stain was especially stubborn. I didn’t want to use stripper initially because well, chemicals. I wanted a more environmentally friendly option but in hindsight when balancing gouged wood vs. chemicals leaching into the ground, I should’ve chosen the stain stripper. And fellow tree huggers, hear me out: I power washed a few years off the life of the wood which means that I’ll have to replace the floorboards sooner than I’d like and that’s not very environmentally friendly.

So after using a combination of power washing (a no-no) and stripper, I finished off the prep process with a light sanding and a wood washer/brightener. The wood brightener really is a miracle product because it lifts all the discolorations from the nooks and crannies of the wood. There’s a huge difference in the brightness of the wood before and after the brightener. I’m not going to outline exactly how to apply the products since there’s east-to-follow instructions on the containers and if you’re reading this blog, I’m assuming you can read the instructions on the bottles. 😉

The prep process takes forever, but it’s worth it for the end result.

Prepped Deck

Next, is painting! It’s definitely tedious to paint a deck with having to paint around the metal spindles, but watching your naked wood go from unprotected and fearing that every little dirty dog paw or rain storm will ruin the wood forever to gloriously painted and protected is rewarding.

I started from the top and worked my way down so the bannisters go first, then the horizontal posts, then finally the deck floor. I also made sure I protected the surrounding wood that wasn’t getting painted in the color that I was using from careless brush strokes.

My doggie helper!
I used a deck brush to apply the stain, but I followed up with a paintbrush to smooth out the stain and to also get in between the floor boards.

The end result came out pretty great and I’m so happy with the how it looks! I estimate that staining the wood myself also saved me a couple thousand dollars since I have such a big deck so it feels pretty good for that money to go toward a renovation that I can’t do.

My supply list for perfect deck staining!Behr Cordovan Brown Semi Transparent Stain (1 gallon or 5 gallon depending on your job size –> I needed the 5 gallon for my size deck)

Behr Cordovan Brown Solid Stain (1 gallon)

Behr Navajo White Solid Stain

Deck Stain Pad (great for fast, streak free staining)

Painters Pole to attach the Deck Stain Pad

Paint Pan– I like this one because it’s deep so you don’t have to refill your paint from the bucket as often

Paint brush– My very favorite brush that shows the least amount of brush strokes

Behr Wood Cleaner

Behr Wood Stain and Finish Stripper