Given these facts... Deck stain DIY or pay professional?
Any help is much appreciated.
Some background. I have a relatively new home - it will be two years old in November. The deck was (obviously) built new. It's weathered two summers and two winters and has not been treated in any way.
It's still in pretty good shape, though it shows a touch of mildew here and there. (see photos below).
My wife and I are pretty fussy about quality, looks, finish. I tried to stain the deck myself and was unhappy with how it was coming out. I was brushing on stain using a water clean up stain and ended up with some unevenness and some shiny spots ("flashing" I believe), from overapplication.
Also, when I tried some deckwash products, I had horrible results. A pro-painter who looked at the deck felt it was in good enough shape that no washing or preping was needed.
I received quotes around $1200 to do the deck, top and bottom and I really don't want to pay that kind of cash.
So my specific questions are:
1. Is there a method (other than just being a better brusher) that will give me a more even look, but do a decent job? Pads? Spray?
2. From the photos, would you agree that no prep is needed (for a semi-transparent)? What about the very light mildewing? Can I just stain over it?
3. Do I need to worry about the rather largish black mildew stains on the underside of the deck? Do they cause any structural damage or can I just leave the underside go?
4. For someone relatively inexperienced at this type of job, can I expect decent results if I'm careful, or should I just knuckle under and pay the cash?
Any insight is VERY MUCH appreciated!
Uneveness and flashing...
Current condition of deck:
Very light mildewing:
I have heard of both rolling and spraying on the stain, trying those methods may give a more even application.
Staining a deck is DIY 101 and anyone can do it. Spraying and rolling will be more even but in no way will it apply enough stain.
Plus with a sprayer your going to have over spray all over the place, including the siding on the house.
What I have done to speed things up was to use a 1/2 nap roller and as I went along brushed in any missed spots or where it was to thick. Try to do a few boards at a time so you can reach the areas that need to be brush out.
Your working with real wood, some parts are dencer then other's so some areas will just be darker then others. Pine is the hardest wood to get to come out even. Once it's dry if some spots look to light it's because the wood soaked it up, just apply more stain in that area.
The ends of the boards need more coats, that's where the waters getting sucked into the board.
I never would have used water based stain only oil based.
Never use Thompson brand, consumers report rates Behr and Cabits brand way above them, Sikens is also a good brand but very expencive.
The stains that last the least time in order are Clear, Semitransparent, then soild which last the longest.
You will need two coats to get a really long lasting finish.
Tape off the siding with 2" wide painter tape if the sidings up close to the deck boards, if it gets on the siding it's not coming off. I'd use a brush not a roller where it's close to the wall.
Those railings look pretty poopy I'd sand the top 2 X's with a random orbital sander and 60 grit paper before staining.
Do the railings first, before the deck. I use a 4" hot dog roller and tip off with a brush to fill in any missed spots.
You first have to kill all the mold, if not it's going to come right back and come through the stain. A pressure washer with the wash nozzle (lower pressure) and a bottle of bleach connected to the suction hose will work best, Once it's sat for about an hour, rince it all off, let dry a few days.
The under side does not really have to be stained, (will not hurt anything just a lot of time and money for little gain) but I would hit it with the bleach and water to kill that mold.
If you want those top rails to last longer and look far better what I have done is add composit decking on top of it using trim head stainless steel 3" screws. Once there in just tap the holes with a hammer and lightly brush the area following the grain with a wire bruch and most of the screw hole disappers. Now you have a place to sit a drink and it acts like an umbrella to the reat of the railing.
Only use the newer PVC coated composit deck boards so it will not mold up.
Also someone cut the pickets to short on your stairs hand rails, there just barely attached.
Something to think about--you could pay someone big bucks to do everything for you, and still wind up with something that's ugly enough to make you and the wife unhappy.
You're too late in the year (too cold and wet, especially for water-based) to do any good before spring, so you have the winter to think about a plan for next year. If you still have your receipts, return the water-based stuff, and buy some fresh oil-based stain/preservative come warmer weather. You might try a darker color semi-transparent in an effort to make things more uniform, but I'd stay away from the solid opaque stains--they look good at first, but tend to not wear or weather as well. I'd roll and back-brush everything, and I'd also try to do the underside of the planks (after using a strong bleach solution to get rid of the black crud that's there, and letting it thoroughly dry).
Good luck. And, Go Badgers and Packers! (I'm a UW engineering graduate--is the Whiskey A Go-Go still out on the Beltline?)
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