Let me say it up front......I'm not a professional deck re-finisher. But this is my journey, my experience hoping it will inspire some of you to try a home improvement project yourself. The internet is an amazing tool....and we all know that you can't lie on the internet. Yeah, right!
We started with a pretty messed up stain job from the previous owners. I think they just re-stained every year and never prepped the surface properly.
We started with power washing thinking that would take off all the previous stain. We tried different commercial deck stain removers to no avail. This stuff was tough. Bring out the sanders!!! Believe it or not, I started with a hand sander. Yes, a hand sander. I thought I was all that with my manly tools....that is until someone introduced me to a belt sander. It's a miracle! Slowly but surely, the old stain was coming off. When we got to the balusters, there was only one way to do it......by hand. Good ole fashioned sand paper in hand. Thanks to my husband and my incredible next door neighbors, Matt & Jen, the job was soon finished......"soon" being a relative term. It looked like a brand new deck. I cleaned the deck really well getting rid of all the sawdust and allowing it to dry before starting to stain.
I NEVER wanted to have to go through that process again, so I researched thoroughly my options for stains. You know the old saying, "You get what you pay for?" Well, I wasn't going to skimp on this part. I had worked way too hard. I landed on a stain, which is not the cheapest, but for me seemed like one of the best. I wanted the color of the wood to show through so I chose Cabot's, Natural Wood Toned Deck & Siding Stain. I purchased mine at Lowes at roughly $33/gallon. Worth every penny.
I won't bore you with the steps of staining but the one word of advice I will give you, if you don't want drips (and they will show), properly cover the area below where you are staining. We started with the balusters and did the floor of the deck as our last step working our way off the deck. NOTE TO SELF: When staining the floor, give each slat one long continuous motion or the stain will overlap and you will be able to see it.
THIS summer, we get to sit back and enjoy our "like new" deck, enjoying life in Nebraska. Every step was so worth it!