Archive for the ‘deck stain’ Category

The Cottager is questing on the Camino de Santiago in Spain at the moment and if inclined, you can see what he is up to on his blog where he posts a few lines and some great pictures almost daily.

I spent the better part of a week at the cottage, just catching my breath and bonding with my new friend Farley. He is a rescue from an L.A. shelter and is now permanently on vacation.


The Urchins had a week at home without mom harassing them to clean up after themselves. And the cats were happy just to have a week without the dog, whom they do not consider a particularly good addition. And so for the price of one plane ticket to Spain, 7 winter-weary creatures had a vacation.  Told you I was frugal.

I did get a few things done.  The deck got its last ever coat of stain. Before it is due again we will rebuild and only use an oil product after that. Stain is a hassle.

unstained deck

stained deck

I also did some gardening at a relaxed pace, having decided to limit rentals and keep the cottage principally for my own enjoyment this summer. 

A few good friends came to visit. My parents came too, which was wonderful as the have only come in fall or winter before and hadn’t seen my garden to advantage or walked on the beach.


Besides these pleasant events, the highlight of my vacation was having nine or ten blissful and uninterrupted hours of sleep each night. No doubt Cottager and the Urchins have better highlights.

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Snuck away from my responsibilities for some of the fresh air and quiet of the cottage.
Messed around in the garden and got some of the railings stained in between spring squalls
Two teenage girls walked up and down the road today playing their violins. I love stuff like that.

Deck Railings Before

Satisfying to spend time outside

And make the cottage look nice too

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Finally the days are longer and warmer and, like every spring, we were itching to start some projects.  Since the weekend was  forecast to be dry, we decided to prioritize the deck, which is really bleached but still in good condition. Our last attempt to stain and protect the deck did not go very well – See “The Tomato Soup Deck.”

Four years have passed since I said I wouldn’t use the Thompson’s Water Seal treatment again, and having failed to find another product we liked, we reversed course and bought an ‘advanced formula’ Thompson product which did not require the deck to be bone-dry. We even chose the same cedar colour, for want of better options, since putting a transparent seal on the bleached wood wasn’t going to improve its looks enough to satisfy us.

Thompsons 'advanced' formula on the bleached deck

Back then, I read that power-washing would cause the wood to ‘bloom’ and was not advised. So I scrubbed the deck by hand.

This time, Cottager just got the power washer out.

Back then, we really didn’t get the product into the spaces between the slats.

This time we taped paint brushes to broom sticks and got much better coverage in those spaces.

Cottager with a brush taped to a broom handle

And while the product recommends you don’t use a roller – without explaining why…

We did it with a roller anyway.

Either the product has improved or we have. We shook it really, really well and it went on evenly and looks and feels great!

Nicely stained and preserved for another few years.

It didn’t take all weekend either. We also had time to: trim hedges, do some garden clean up, barbecue steaks, see a movie, walk into the village along the beach, have a weiner and marshmallow roast on the beach, fly the Angry Birds kite a recent visitor left behind for us, and have the neighbours over.  Love these longer, warmer days.

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So far, so good

We set out to get a coat of deck treatment down this weekend, when the forecast suggested a decent interval of dry weather. Our deck measures roughly 35 x 10 feet. It is sound but very bleached and absorbs water like crazy. Lets get ‘er done, we agreed. 

Cottager bought Thompson’s Water Seal, making a judgement call – as I would have done – that a bit of a cedar-toned stain would look better than an invisible product.

I went over on Friday afternoon and spent hours digging pounds of blond hair and bits of crumbled red bouncy balls out of the spaces between the planks – remnants of the previous occupant’s German Shepherd guard dog.  Then, following advice found on-line to avoid the wood ‘blooming’ that follows power washing, I scrubbed the covered portion of the deck with a brush and a bit of laundry detergent in water. 

Next morning, the rest of the crew turned up early and Cottager and I prepped the other half of the deck, leaving it to dry in the hot sun.  Around 2, we shook up the first can well (we thought….) and got started. Instead of a sprayer, we used a roller and hand brush. 

It looked great to start. Very subtle colour. Fine.

But after we tipped the second half of the can into the tray. . .  the stain began to appear much darker. Panic!

Probably should have tried to scrub the darker stain area down and then taken some time to regroup. But that isn’t our typical approach. Just…wanted…it ….done. The beating sun and a pair of frantic robins working hard to hatch a clutch of pretty blue eggs in the bamboo growing out of the deck, were pressuring us to finish up. So we re-rolled the half of the deck that had the tone we preferred with the tomato-soup coloured stain that we didn’t particulary like. It looks just ok. With the furniture back in place, the sun shining and a cold beer in hand, I feel like I can live with it – but just.  

The soup deck

So our bad for (apparently) not stirring the product sufficiently. But Thompson’s bad for this very un-cedar like tone of stain.  For the record, the stain really didn’t take evenly on any part of the deck. I’m not convinced that using a sprayer would have a made a difference with that.  I wouldn’t use this product again.

For now, we are taking a step back (yeah, a little late) and will consider, at some future point, whether we might be able to tone the tone down with some carefully applied power-washing, or if there might be something to be gained from going at it with a darker stain.  Or not. The robins LOVE it just the way it is.

Robins disturbed from their nest again 

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