Laboring over labor day weekend

Hope everyone had a great labor day weekend!!  We were busy busy busy on Saturday and Sunday!!  Thank goodness for a 3 day weekend so we could rest on Monday.  What were we busy doing?  Staining our deck- whoo hoo!  Ok, maybe this isn’t as exciting to most people as it is to us- but our deck has been in need of a facelift for awhile now.  With the hot Georgia heat in the summer and the cold snowy winters (what? you didn’t know Georgia got snow?  Neither did we actually…we’ve had snow the past 2 winters we’ve lived here- crazy!!) our deck has taken a beating.  So it was time to do something about it!

Optimistic me thought it would take us 2 days, tops, to tackle this project.  Whoops- maybe not.  First, our stain (Rustoleum deck and fence solid stain, from Lowes**) says to apply between temps of 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Well, it’s still summer here in Georgia, so that meant getting up early to beat the heat.  By noon it’s at least 90 degrees out, so we had to work fast.  Not to mention rain was forecast for Sunday afternoon, so we needed to have the stain on and drying by around 11am so it could get 4-6 hours of drying time before the rain hit (because when it rains here, it POURS).  Second, I didn’t take into account the fact that, not only is our deck close to 300 square feet, but it’s also got a railing all the way around- probably another 200 square feet in railing.  Third, our deck was THIRSTY- and needed 2 coats.  Once we got started, it became apparent that all we were getting done this labor day weekend was the railing.  Sigh- oh well- that’s what weekends are for, right?

I promise I have before pictures to show of the deck, I just have temporarily misplaced them.  Yep, I’m an awesome blogger.  Ha.  I do have a “not so great, in progress pic” to share though!!  Wanna see?  Sure you do:

This is the railings with one coat of stain on.  What you can’t see in this pic is the lovely red/orange/brown stain that is currently on the deck, because this pic makes it look semi-ok.  In reality, it’s worn down and dirty looking.  And doesn’t repel water anymore.  Time to freshen it up!!

We had to use a solid stain on the deck, because the last time it was stained, they used a solid stain.  There are 3 kinds of stain- transparent, semi-transparent and solid.  Transparent lets the natural wood color and grain show through- we used this on our fence.  Semi-transparent lets the grain show through but adds a color to the wood.  Solid lets the texture of the wood show through and that’s about it.  If we had wanted to completely strip our deck of all original stain and sand it down to bare wood, we could have gotten away with a transparent or semi-transparent stain.  But that would have been a TON of work that we weren’t willing to do.  So solid stain won.

We also went with an acrylic over an oil based stain, because acrylic stains breathe better than oil based and keep mold from growing between the stain and the wood.  With the high humidity in Georgia, I’m hoping that this was the correct choice.  There’s a lot of debate out there over what stains are best- a lot of people say solid stains don’t hold up to high traffic, which we definitely have on our deck, as it’s the only way to the backyard from our house and we have 3 dogs.  Our stain is rated for 10 years, although I sincerely doubt we will get this much use out of it.  Most people say 18 months is about the time frame for stain on a horizontal surface, so we’ll how it goes over time.  We tried to prep the surface the correct way- when I share “before pictures” I’ll tell you more about that process.  Who knows though,  I may be back in a few months with a post on “what not to do when staining a deck”- ha, I hope not!!

By the way, we chose the color “Black Walnut”.  I wanted something that was dark, and a cooler brown than the brown that was already on the deck.  I think this color looks a lot more modern and ties in better with the colors of the house.  We did figure out that we had an oops with the stain (not our fault!!), but not until after the railings already had 2 coats on them.  We had originally bought 2 gallons of stain, and decided over the weekend we’d need one more gallon after going through an entire gallon on just the railings.  I went back to Lowes and grabbed a gallon of stain off the shelf and took it to the paint counter to have it tinted.  Arriving back home, I compared the two cans and discovered the oops-  I had grabbed the “Medium Tint Base” off the shelf and had it tinted.  The 2 cans we bought previously were “Neutral Tint Base“- the Lowes employee helping us had grabbed them off the shelf and tinted them for us.  The neutral base has almost no color to it to begin with (unlike the medium base)- so when tinting it to the dark black walnut color, we actually got a mostly black stain.  Oh boy.  Luckily, we’d only stained the railings, and I actually really like the black/grey color they are now.  We plan on mixing the remaining 2 gallons together and applying that to the decking, so the railings should be an accent to the deck and hopefully stand out a bit.  A happy accident??  I hope so!!

Stay tuned for a before post about the prep, and an after post- both with pictures, I promise!

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated by this company in any way for this post.

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