How to Stain a Deck in Less Than a Year

When we moved into our new house, the builder warned us not to stain/seal the deck for the first six months because the wood needed to release all its evil toxins or something. I don't really remember why, but that "I'M NEW" color of unstained wood drove me crazy. So after six long months of settling in to our new house, I was off to Home Depot to pick up some stain for our front porch and deck. I got Behr Cedar Naturaltone because it looked pretty on the demo display boards. Here are some pictures from OCTOBER. Yes, October. And yes, I found them! Hurray for photo organization.

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Please don't even talk to me about the yellow column ends. They bother me more than they bother you.

A strange thing happened when I started staining the front porch... Erik broke his collar bone. In three places. Life as we knew it was basically over. And Zeke? Well we learned he'd contracted fleas from a friend's cat. I spent the rest of October de-fleaing the entire house and coddling my husband who couldn't make it more than three hours or so through the night without assistance. It was a blur of a month. Somehow I managed to finish the front porch, but the deck got put on mega hold.

Winter went by. Collar bones grow back into place. And eventually it was nice and warm and after a freak snowstorm in April, I decided in May to pick up where I'd left off.

One of the keys to staining your deck that a lot of people apparently skip is to clean all the grime and nastiness off before you stain. We had done this in October, but after so many months of weather, it wasn't bright and new looking anymore. So I spent another day cleaning and prepping, hoping this time I'd actually get to stain it.

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June happened. June was the tenth rainiest June in Richmond, VA's history. I spent every week checking the forecast for a break of sunny days. Any time the deck had to dry out and then to be stained before another storm rolled in, I was out there. But it's mighty slow going at that rate, especially since Behr requires two coats of stain. Sorry I only have Instagram photos from this dark period of life.

But! At long last, last week I finished.

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I eventually turned into a crazy person, staining my deck at 11pm because I had made it my goal to finish it before Erik returned from his business trip (and secretly before his surprise birthday party I was throwing). I still kind of am a crazy person because I just wrote this epic blog entry about staining my deck, but you try spending that many months on one DIY project. I think you'll be slightly relieved when you're finished.

On a serious deck stain sidenote: I would not use Behr stain again. I diligently followed the can's instructions and still wound up with a highly overstained deck that is super, super, grabs your shoes and doesn't let go, sticky. This happens when you stain too much, but after one coat, this stain looks horrible and the can says to apply a light second coat. I don't know how you could apply it lighter than I did without a patchy mess. A lot of research after the fact revealed that Behr was just a poor choice. So pick a different stain when you start on your deck staining saga! Though I hear some people finish these kind of things in a weekend or something crazy. Not much drama in that, but whatever works for you.