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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sometimes Easier Isn't Better

I just found this in my drafts. I wrote it WAY back at the beginning of the summer and never got around to taking pictures. I guess I should just post it at this point. ENJOY.

I love my deck. I hate my deck.
When we bought our house the deck was 3/4" plywood painted with white marine paint with astro turf glued on top. I was positive when we had the house inspection they would say the deck had to be removed and replaced. No such luck. In fact, there was a 4" spot where it had dry rot, but the rest of the wood was in really good shape. In fact, we kept it to use for other projects.
The cherry on top of the deck was the rails. They were rebar placed horizontally with the first rung 12" from the deck surface. They were so dangerous the first summer we lived in the house we basically didn't use it.
The next spring we hired a contractor to build a new one. I started out the right way having three bids done. In the end we went with the cheapest bid. Big mistake. The guy ended up not finishing the deck and bilking us out of about $600. We were lucky it wasn't more and we learned some valuable lessons. In the end my brother-in-law and  friend built the deck using some of the old framing and new cedar.
If I had money we would have used Trex, but guess what? I didn't have it then and I still don't have it.
The  deck is awesome. It is large enough to hold a table that seats six comfortably  (ten when we sit really close). It also holds a love seat two comfy chairs, the Traeger, a "buffet", planters and a little cooking station. It is a great place to enjoy dinner in the summer. I am happy with our choice in black metal railings and the natural color. However, I HATE maintaining the deck. It is not fun.
Did not seal it the first year because I wanted it to weather to a lovely silver grey. The next summer I sealed it. After that I got lazy. I would spend some time cleaning it and would then use those spray on deck cleaners and sealers. I bet some people out there swear by these. What is not to like? They attach to your hose and you spray. Easy right? Well folks sometimes ease doesn't make a job well done.
Last year I never got around to really cleaning the deck or sealing it. This winter it was U.G.L.Y.  The boards turned almost black and we even had some moss growing on it. Not the cool moss, but the nasty kind. The build up was also dangerous and it became slick.
I debated on doing my usual spray deck cleaner, but decided it was so bad I had to bring out the big guns. I thought about getting out my belt sander and sanding the entire deck, but the thought made me cringe. I finally broke down and used the pressure washer. Most deck experts will tell you not to use a pressure washer on wooden decks. It can break down the wood and actually dent it. I have never cleaned it with a pressure washer, but decided to do it this year. I figure if I pressure wash it ever five years it won't be the end of the world.
Step One- It took me about two hours to pressure wash the deck. After dinner one night I fired it up and got at it. I love pressure washing, but I hate it (see a theme here?). It cleans things so well, but in the process it makes a mess. How is that for an oxymoron? After this step I let the deck dry for a few days.
Step Two- A few days later I busted out my Thompson's Water Sealer. I had thought about going with a high end product, but A. I didn't have an extra $150 laying around and B. I figured if I had to do this every year this product would do the trick. I decided to use a brush for this step. The can says you can spray it with one of those stain sprayers, but I make a mess with these. The guy at Home Depot said you could roll it too. These methods work, but sometimes you just have to get on your hands and knees and do it the hard way. I used a large stain brush I found in the middle of the road. Yep, one day we were driving along and I spotted a brush. I made my husband pull over and I jumped out and grabbed it. It is an awesome brush and it has found a good home.
For the next couple of hours I sat on by behind and did a small area at a time. I did a portion on Friday night while listening to some tunes and then got back at it Saturday morning. One of my favorite summer brews helped make the job easier. I used two cans of Thompson's and ran out just after I finished the top part of the railing. I also ran out of time so it was all good. Added bonus was a tan!
Step Three- After a day of drying I reassembled the deck and decorated it. This is my favorite part. The day after the deck was "complete" it began to rain again. The water beaded up just like it was supposed to.

I still need to finish the outside skirting on the deck and my stairs. I am going to go with a different product for the stairs. I know I have seen a product that has some kind of grit in it. I figure this will be good for traction especially in our rainy Oregon winters.

Overall this project took about eight hours. I know I could have shaved some time off using those easy-to-use products, but sometimes I think doing it the old fashioned way is best. I am pleased with my results and happy I won't have to do this again for at least another year (or two).

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