Staining the back deck

To all my family living in the northwest, this post is in honor of your first snowstorm of the season. I’m writing about an outdoor project, just to remind you that it’s still in the mid-seventies here…Back Deck Before and After
We’ve upgraded the back deck over our last two summers in the homestead. Read on to learn about the projects we’ve completed (and the ones we haven’t!) to update our backyard living space.

Last summer we started fixing up our big back deck (you can see the layout of our deck on this homestead floor plan). First, let me show you what the deck looked like when we moved in:IMG_3714

For some reason the previous owner had painted a big black square where they once had a hot tub. The actual tub was long gone by the time we bought the house (thank goodness, a used hot tub freaks me out). The rest of the deck was graying and mildewed- it needed a good scrubbing:IMG_3715

Updating it took all of last summer and a good chunk of time this summer as well. And it’s still not completely done, go figure (but it’s close! And a lot better-looking!). Here is our deck at the beginning of our work last summer; you can see where I have already added new wood risers to the stairs:SONY DSC

The first big obstacle was removing that big black square of paint:SONY DSC

I used a lot of paint stripper and a big bucket of deck cleaner to remove the old paint. It must have been some seriously strong old oil paint, because it took everything I had to get it up. Even now there are still black streaks of old paint left in a few of the deck boards. I used a metal scraper and metal scrubbers to lift the paint:SONY DSC

I attached a metal scrubber to the reciprocating saw in a final (and bone-jarring) attempt to scrape off the last of the paint. My kitty Sue supervised the entire process from her perch on the deck chair:SONY DSC

The next big job was replacing the deck boards that were falling apart. There where only three boards on the floor of the deck that where beyond repair, as well as six vertical spindles on the railing. I also added new stair risers on the staircase leading down to the grass. Jeff and I spent an afternoon prying up the old boards and screwing down new ones (and working on the landscape, as you can see below the deck):SONY DSC

This project (like all our construction projects) required a random assortment of tools and a couple quick trips to the hardware store. Here’s Jeff getting the new boards down:SONY DSC

Now, time for a good scrubbing! I filled the sprayer with TSP and a little bleach and got the scrub brush ready:SONY DSC

This is halfway through the scrubbing. I used the hose to wet everything down before I started. I also used that big blue tarp to (attempt to) cover and protect our boxwood bushes:SONY DSC

Last, but definitely not least, we had to stain and seal all the wood. I started on the vertical railings, using a rag and then a sponge to apply the runny stain:SONY DSC

I finished the railings after a long hot day of work. You can see how runny the stain is. It ran down every surface and onto the deck floor:SONY DSC

For the floorboards I had to cut in with a paint brush along each crevice in the boards. That took the most time (hours!) then I simply rolled the stain onto the rest of the boards with a long paint roller. That part was fun in comparison to the rest of the staining process:SONY DSC

Almost done! I left a path to the back door until the last session of staining:SONY DSC

After a LONG weekend of work, the top of the deck was stained! You can see where I had removed the old hot tub paint. The wood was sanded enough it looks slightly lighter. Luckily, my outdoor table is going to sit right over that spot:SONY DSC

Another weekend, another deck project. Yep, it’s more staining. Our deck is so high that it is skirted with a lot of lattice woodwork. Jeff got started staining on one side:SONY DSC

We used a sponge and rag to get the stain into every corner. I knew I had to repaint all the white deck posts and joists, so we weren’t very careful to keep the stain off of the painted surfaces:SONY DSC

I started on the other side of the deck. You can see the old, dirty latticework and the new spindles on the deck railing:SONY DSC

The very last staining project was the back staircase and lattice:SONY DSC

The deck staining is finally done! I used the Olympic ‘Redwood’ stain in a transparent finish. It should age really well and when we have to re-stain we won’t need to strip anything off, just clean and add more stain (I’m dreading the next time we have to do this). The deck was so desperate for stain, it soaked up over 8 gallons! That’s a lot of stain! I took this photo the day after we finished the staining project:SONY DSC

It’s now been over a year and I wanted to show you how we’ve been living with our updated deck:SONY DSC

You can see that the stain has weathered a bit into a nice reddish-brown patina. The horizontal deck boards are already looking ready for another coat of stain… another project on my list:SONY DSC

Our outdoor table and chairs came from the local thrift store. I found them early one spring morning and sent this cell phone photo to Jeff, asking what he thought:Deck furniture at store

Jeff obviously said ‘buy it!’ Now the set fits the bump-out on our deck perfectly:SONY DSC

The pillows are clearance Pottery Barn outdoor pillows from an outlet store (DownEast Outfitters in Idaho Falls, be still my heart). The big umbrella was last fall’s clearance from Lowe’s:SONY DSC
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One quick update I completed this summer- I found some decorative black strap hinges and a latch at Habitat for Humanity. I cleaned them and used them to pretty up the little gate under the deck:SONY DSC

You can see the gate on the left of the photo, it leads under the deck and into the crawlspace:SONY DSC

That’s it for now! Our cleaned-up deck has become a great place for parties and barbecues, even a few nights of stargazing and snowball fights. This was the day after Thanksgiving last year with Jeff’s family (eating turkey noodle soup, yum):thanksgiving 2

I still have big outdoor projects to do. I am working on painting the exterior of the house and the back doors. I want to change out the exterior lighting. I’m going to try my hand at home-made boxwood wreaths when I trim up our huge backyard boxwoods later this winter. Look for more posts about my ongoing projects.Back Deck Before and After

I also stained our front deck two years ago, check out that project here.

What do you think? Anyone have any advice for speeding up or simplifying the staining process? I’d love to save my back next time!

5 Comments on “Staining the back deck

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  3. Hey Jenny! I love how that turned out, a lot of work but so nice to have that space to enjoy 🙂 I love the umbrella you picked that it is floral on the underside and goes with the Potterybarn pillows really well such a happy pattern! Chris and I are looking to get a patio set to go next to our gazebo out back, that’s our next summer project along with finishing out that shed…we’ll see 🙂 But as always, you’ve inspired me!

    • Thanks! I’m looking forward to seeing your back deck plans, you have such a great space.

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