The deck, that is.
We did it.
We sealed it all up.
It looks amazing.
It’s been one heck of a Spring and Summer so far – rainy, super hot & humid, a weekend of gorgeous weather, then hit repeat and head right back into rain. I can’t complain, all in all it hasn’t been too bad and we’re already at the end of July … but it has been a bit of a hurdle for this project.
Initially, we said we’d seal the deck ourselves; but then it got to be June and we wanted (needed) it done soon. So, we called 5 companies and got 5 quotes to have it “professionally” done. The quotes were actually super reasonable, which was surprising, because, remember, our deck is pretty extra large, has wrap-around steps, and railings that all need to be cleaned and sealed. (In total, it’s probably 700+ sq ft.)
Here’s our deck (before pics from last year):
Anyway, we picked a crew and called to set an appointment. Well, he couldn’t fit us in until August. We definitely wanted it done sooner – it was a big investment and we love our deck, so it’s something we plan on keeping nice. Plus, August was his estimate, which also meant that if it kept raining and the June appointments were pushed into July, we’d be pushed into September, and so on … Plus, his crew does A LOT of decks, so can they really do them that well?
So, after some hemming and hawing, we just opted to do it ourselves.
We waited for a good window. No rain. Temps under 90 degrees. Preferably lower humidity. We got 2 out of the 3 the first week of July. No rain scheduled for a whole week! Temps in the high 80s! Humidity was high, but we had to take our window.
We cleared the deck off on a Friday afternoon.
On Saturday morning, we cleaned and scrubbed it. We bought a sprayer to use for the job and it helped a lot. Patrick sprayed everything with the cleaning solution; I scrubbed the steps and railings, while he scrubbed the deck boards. It was hot and sticky, but that helped because everything was dried in a day and ready for the stain. We were both super impressed with how good the deck looked just after cleaning it – more uniform and whiter boards.
Then, on Sunday (late morning), we started sealing. We picked a transparent sealant, with no color. We’re going to try to keep it the natural wood look for as long as we can … knowing that in 5-7 years, we’ll probably have to pick a slightly darker stain color to cover imperfections and sun damage.
The sprayer we bought wasn’t working well with the sealant at all (even though it’s the consistency of water). We wanted to at least use the sprayer on the railings and stairs. So, we turned to paint brushes, which were covering really well, but also taking forever. So, I kept painting, while Patrick put together our paint sprayer to see if that would work better. It did. We were in business. We used that to finish the railings and skirt around the outside of the deck. But, then we moved onto the deck boards, where we just used a paint tray and deck pad … but by the time we worked our way over to the stairs, the sprayer was clogged. (The sealant had just dried in there and needed cleaning, but it still meant we couldn’t use it again that afternoon.) So, we did the stairs by hand. We were absolutely exhausted. And we still had to do another coat of sealant. We decided to wait until Monday afternoon.
But, Monday afternoon turned out to be really hot (95, heat index of 104, humidity hovering around 80%) … so we waited until Monday evening. Which was not ideal, being the start of a work-week and all, but it had to be done. The second coat went SO much faster than the first. We sprayed the outside railings, skirting, and stairs first. Then I painted the inside of the railings, and used the deck pad for the boards … Finally, working my way off the deck towards the gate (better flow than day 1!).
It looks so great! We were definitely surprised at how uniform the cleaning and sealing made the deck look – since the dining area is in full sun most of the summer days, but the roof covers the whole living room section.
It felt tacky for a few days, slightly less each day. The temperature had stayed pretty fair for this time of year, high 80s into the 90s during the day, but dropping into the low 70s at night … so we figured it might just take a few extra days to fully cure. (The sealant says to wait at least 72 hours for final curing.)
Well, days and days later, it was still tacky. The temps had risen once again and we were in the middle of a HOT spell with HIGH humidity and it wasn’t dropping at night either.
So, we waited.
We talked to Behr. They said that we could scrub the whole deck again with Dawn soap and water, which would remove any leftover sealant that wasn’t soaking into the boards for whatever reason. But, I did that in a corner and it didn’t seem to help. So, we just kept waiting.
3 weeks after initially clearing and cleaning the deck, we got another weather break. Within a couple of days, the tackiness went down considerably and we felt comfortable that everything was sealed up and cured properly … only one last finishing task before we were in business. I just had to pull out the ladder to paint the top support beams that frame in the roof/ceiling area. I just did this all by hand with a paintbrush.
Then, on Saturday morning, before Patrick woke up and could help move all the furniture back … I just couldn’t wait to sit outside, drink my coffee, and read my book, so I pulled up a single chair and ottoman to enjoy our deck once again. 🙂
We’re so pleased with the finished product. It just looks much nicer than the bare wood; which we had both come to really like, but didn’t realize how much of a finished look the sealant would provide. And, we just love the color the sealant gave the wood. It just looks so great. We’re super happy we just did this ourselves – we know it was done correctly and up to our standards … and we don’t have to fix anything on the back-end. 😉
[We’ll probably end up doing this every 1-2 years … from now on in the Fall … and definitely invest in a good sprayer.]