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Staining the deck

March 19, 2010

Staining the deck has to be the absolute bane of my existence. Our deck is massive. It is the worst job of any around our house that I can think of, other than getting the septic tank pumped which is not a job I would ever do myself thankfully. Last year, our son and daughter were unfortunate enough to pick up 100+ splinters from our poorly maintained deck. (This is our second summer here; it was the prior owners who didn’t maintain the deck.) One kid needed a surgical consult for a splinter. Not good times. Shoes are permanently required on the decking now – if only to save my sanity. The previous owners did absolutely no maintenance on it. First, I had to mix bleach and Pine sol to kill off the mildew and other assorted organisms living in the wood. Second, I had to rent a floor sander and sand off all the splinters. This took hours. It seemed like forever. Third, I put on two coats of semi-solid stain, by hand.

This year, as I had properly prepped the deck last year I only had to scrub the deck down with bleach and then roll it with semi-solid stain. Aside from the 100+ balusters that needed painting, it was nowhere near as bad a job as last year. Next year I am refusing to stain the balusters as they’ve already received two coats of stain they should hold up fine. The actual deck surface and railings will need to be scrubbed and re-stained yearly though.

Why do I bring this up? To share my woe? No, I bring up deck maintenance because I was house shopping the number of unsafe and completely unmaintained decks I came across was mind blowing. I cannot believe how little effort people put into maintaining their decks. To have them redone is so expensive, unless you have some carpentry skills which I do not. I am not allowed near any form of saw. I am accident prone on that account. My in-laws paid someone to pressure wash and repaint their deck after at least a decade of neglect and their deck is completely pitted now.

If I were to install a new deck on any house, I would seriously consider the composite wood material available, primarily in the form of 2×4’s for the reduction in maintenance over time. I haven’t had the need to research it’s lifespan yet, but I have to bet that it would save enough in terms of hard labor bleaching/sanding/staining over its lifetime to be a contender for the planking.

At least I am done with the deck for another year and next year it will be even less work! Yay! After the stain cures and I’m able to place the furniture back on the deck I will post a picture of my handiwork.

The next household project for me is rebuilding and repainting/staining our outdoor bench which has worn out. Fortunately, Home Depot will make the necessary circular saw cuts!

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