When I was a teenager, I worked as a lifeguard. It was a great gig, especially since North Carolina summer weather is so volatile. Almost every afternoon, there was thunder and the threat of rain. That meant kicking everyone out of the pool and playing cards with fellow guards while on the clock. Oh yeah.

As an adult trying to stain her deck, that weather has been very annoying in the past month.

Everyday, 30% chance of scattered thunderstorms. Everyday, drought (or an errant three minute downpour.)

Last Wednesday I looked at the forecast. Open skies for SIX DAYS! As soon as Hurricane Arthur got out of town on Thursday, we were set.

Friday, we prepped by cleaning the deck. Before:

After, significantly brighter:

It looks so easy in before and after pictures. But it wasn’t great.

I bought a gallon of no-scrub deck wash that was supposed to cover 300 square feet. Halfway into spraying our 12’x12′ (144 square feet) deck, I realized I was almost out of wash. Ugh! Luckily, it takes four minutes to get from our driveway to Lowe’s. Husband went and picked up another bottle.

So I finished spraying and started rinsing. As I was spraying, I noticed this pulpy, cellulose-like layer peeling off. Hmmmm. When it dried (you can see it best near the bottom of the broom, the white stuff):

And the same happened in places where I walked:

So I ended up sanding the railing and a few spots on the decking. Word of wisdom: bleach-filled deck cleaner will eat. wood. up.

I looked online at product reviews and others had the same issue. Most of the positive reviews were associated with composite decks. Oh well. In the end, we got it clean and ready for stain.

We waited two days for the wood to dry, and on Sunday, started staining. We tackled the hard part first, balusters.

I couldn’t imagine doing this alone. Two people made it so much easier. I’d paint one side, he’d do the other.

Then we’d wipe off the excess.

Rinse and repeat in the hundreds of nooks and crannies.

Our handy helper. (Side note: went for his first peds visit. He gained 10 oz in one week and is in the top percentile for length at 23.25″!)

There are several spots that don’t look great, but my parents, deck staining veterans, assured us that as soon as the sun hit it for a couple of days, any splotches would blend.

Yesterday, I stained the decking in four staining sessions during Charlie naps. I need to move the furniture back today, but Charlie is having one of those needy mornings where he cries as soon as I put him down. So it looks like I’ll have to snuggle him today. Poor me. 🙂

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