There's many schools of thought on how long you should wait to stain your deck, and we've found research from everything from 6-8 weeks, to 3-6 months to allow the pressure treated wood to dryout. Since we completed it so late in the year, we knew we would be waiting until early spring to think about staining. This isn't always ideal to go through a Northeast Ohio winter with an unfinished deck, but we got really lucky, (or unlucky for snowboarders like Mike), and had a very mild winter. So, after the rain settled down around May, we started the plan of attack. Well life got in the way, vacations were taken, (we're still tan from sneaking off to Florida last week), and we were running out of days to stain this bad boy.
We finally decided that we would clean the deck before we flew to Florida, and stain it when we returned since the cleaning instructions said to wait 3-4 days before staining it.
Before I get into the details I have to warn you there are no action shots here. Cleaning and brightening and staining are messy and we were always up against the clock during each task, so there was no time for pictures.
We started with the cleaner Mike bought online called Restore-a-Deck. (We weren't paid or perked, Mike did his usual research and heard this was a really good product.) The cleaner was 1/2 of a 2-part system that included a brightener. It comes in a powder form that makes 5 gallons when mixed with water. Mike used a gardening sprayer to apply it and I was in charge of watching the clock and spraying it with the hose after the 15 minute wait time.
The hardest part was doing this on a very sunny and hot day. The deck is supposed to remain wet while you are applying it, so Mike and I worked in sections to prevent drying out. Once we were done there was a film left on the wood that the hose wasn't removing, so we borrowed our neighbors power washer to remove it.
I think this is where I might have gotten a little overzealous because while I removed all of the slimy film, I was left with a hairy deck from too much pressure.
We did a little research online and found this isn't the end of the world. Since we were doing this before vacation, we left it alone and a lot of the hairs were washed away from the couple of rain showers we had. The wear and tear from regular use and rain will eventually rub all the hairy parts off.
Even though the last thing someone wants to do right after returning from a week of relaxing in the sun is stain a deck, we had prepared ourselves for the task and were kind of excited to complete it and be done with it. All we had to do was wait for nice weather. Which we had hoped was going to be during the weekend, but of course we weren't that lucky. That's why last Wednesday night Mike and I ran around getting our brushes and pan liners and started staining around 5:30 in the evening. Yes, this was crazy. No, this is not normal. Yes, we usually do things like this.
What was even crazier was our neighbors had their annual end of school bonfire party for their kids and a couple of their friends where they burn their school notebooks, (a really cool tradition for the kids!) and kept trying to entice us to drop the rollers and brushes to come over for some beers. Not sure how we held out, but we did, and finished staining everything around 10:30 that night. Five hours to stain 625 square feet, with no breaks. We didn't even care that we hadn't eaten dinner or had mosquito bits the size of quarters, we were done!
As for the actual stain, we used TheSealerStore TimberOil in Warm Honey Gold. The stain was really easy to use and needed only one coat, (probably due to the fact that it was raw wood and we pretreated it with the cleaner and brightener). For the whole deck we used about 6 gallons. We had bought 7.
Since it was so dark when we finished I wasn't able to get pictures until this weekend. Here's what it looked like after the cleaning and brightening:
And the Warm Honey Gold goodness afters:
It's pretty orange looking to me, but even in the last couple of days since we've finished, it's dulled down a little. It's a little strange looking out and seeing the giant orange deck that is where the light colored one used to be, but it's a lot more rich looking now and the added protection is good for my peace of mind.
Now we just have to add some lattice, furniture, and landscaping. Oh gosh, when will it ever end?!