14 May 2013

Sanding & Staining

When we had originally planned to list our house this spring, we figured we might be able to get away without doing too much outdoor work.  Since the rental house is still being restored, and plans of moving have been pushed back, we figure we better put a little bit of time and effort into our back yard this summer. The first big project to tackle was the deck.

Since we moved into this house 3 years ago Mr. Swell has wanted to rip the deck off and start from scratch.  Every spring we have the discussion about taking a sledgehammer to it, and every spring we decide that we just don't have the time or money to invest in building a new deck/patio combo.  This year was no exception, especially since the goal is more to spruce things up for selling rather than make it exactly the way we want it.  A couple of weeks ago Operation Deck Restoration commenced.

This is where I become a bad blogger because I don't have any before pictures.  Pretty effective to show you a super stunning before and after without any before, right?  Pathetic.  I had fully intended to take pictures.  I went out to drop off Fin at my Mom's so that we could work on the deck for the whole morning, and by the time I came back the whole thing was sanded.  I was happy that the work was done, so I couldn't complain about not having any pictures. :)

I did however sneak this picture from the last corner that wasn't sanded.

Deck Before

It was bad. Really bad.  We think that the previous owners didn't wait a few years before staining it (which you need to do with treated wood), so the stain peeled quite badly.  If we walked outside without shoes on we would come in with paint covering our feet.  We were paranoid about Fin going out on the deck without shoes in case she got slivers in her little feet.  

We rented a giant disc power sander for 4 hours and did the whole deck in about 20 minutes.  Renting the sander was a bit of an expense ($60), but was so worth it.  Doing it by hand with our palm sander would have taken days and probably would have resulted in some very sore arms.

Sanding the deck

The sander was really easy to use and suprisingly enough the vibration wasn't too crazy (not like in the movies, where it gets away from you and starts scooting across the floor!).

sanding the deck

Once the deck surface was sanded we then used our palm sanders (we have 2) to do the railings, the stairs and the fronts of the spindles.

sanding the railings

(Yes, I actually did do some of the work...even though you wouldn't know it from these pics.)

The same weekend we sanded, Benjamin Moore happened to be having a sale.  Sales at Benjamin Moore happen once in a blue moon, so I was happy that we had a project to take advantage of the discount.  We seriously considered going with a totally different colour for the deck (navy blue was a strong contender), but ultimately we decided to match the siding and stick with a colour that was quite similar to what was on it before.  The colour we chose was Benjamin Moore Gray Owl. 

I picked up a gallon of Benjamin Moore Arbour Coat opaque stain, for $60, which was $10 off the regular price.  It's definitely one of the more expensive stains on the market, but after doing one coat we knew we had made the right decision to splurge on paint.  After much trial and error with paint, I do very much believe that it's one of the things that isn't worth cheaping out on.

Benjamin Moore Arbour Coat in Grey Owl

Our deck is made with rounded boards.  I had no idea how annoying they were until we had to paint them!  Man, I was seriously wishing for some square cut boards about half way in.  Because of the rounded edges, the staining had to be a 2 step process.  One of us used a stain pad on the extended pole to actually apply the stain to the board, and then the other person had to follow with the brush to get the stain into all of the grooves.  The stain pad (I bought a deck stain pad and holder at The Home Depot) was awesome and did the job without us having to bend over or kneel and scoot the whole time (well, except for the whole brushing in the grooves part).

Deck Staining Pad

We did half the deck one night, and then the other half and the railing tops a few days later (so that we could walk on the dry part).  The Arbour Coat was so awesome that it only took one coat to get enough coverage.  Love that!

Diefenbaker was very helpful in the painting process....

Diefenbaker on the deck

It looks SO much better now! It's all nice and smooth and we can now walk on it without worrying about slivers getting in our feet.  Diefenbaker loves laying on it now, and sometimes he will even choose it over the grass.

Deck after. Benjamin Moore Arbour Coat in Gray Owl

Only about half of the spindles are done, and I am slowly working away at the rest of them.  They are by far the most time consuming part of the whole project.  We are just about finished the gallon of stain, so I am really hoping that I can squeeze the rest of the spindles out without having to buy more stain.

Deck after. Benjamin Moore Arbour Coat in Gray Owl

For under $200, this was a project that not only had a huge impact on our backyard, but also on our moods.  Now that it's finally spring around here, we feel so much better being able to spend some time on the deck.  I am happy that it's safer now and we can let Fin run around and explore.  

We do have more patio furniture that needs to get back on, and we made a trip to Ikea last week to buy a few more things for the space.  I'll try and get everything set up over the next few days and then show you how our postage stamp of a backyard is looking. 


  1. It looks so great and of course Diefenbaker looks stunning on it ;) LOL

  2. love it! it looks so fresh and ready for summer parties!

  3. We need to stain our deck again really soon. Love how fresh it looks before the chair scuffs, dog scratches, and hail, etc. starts to ruin the hard work!

  4. Kelly, this looks gorgeous!! Wishing you many days and nights to enjoy the deck!!

    1. Thanks Stacey! We love spending time out there. Now we just have to work on the rest of the yard!!!!

  5. Dude I give you props. Mine was in bad shape too and it took forEVER to do. Nice job!

  6. Kelly...guess what I am doing...the same!?! And our porch has rounded boards as well!?! Hilarious...I decided that we need to start enjoying our back deck instead of trying to make it go away (its a little of an eyesore). Great minds think alike, huh! ;) Jesse @ Scout & Nimble

    1. Ack - so you totally get my pain then right? We should start a petition to ban rounded boards. Seriously...sisters without even knowing it :) hahaha

  7. What a big impact such a small change can make. The new deck looks fantastic, love the paint color. You can always go darker to navy later, but it would have been a lot more work to start dark and switch to light!

    1. Thank you! I totally agree, we can always go darker. Actually, now that we have lived with the new stain for a while I am glad that we didnt go dark because I think it would show WAY too much dust. Clearly I wasnt too concerned with that when I was trying to pick colours.


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