No stain, no gain

Brandon and I took advantage of the nice weather recently and dedicated some quality time to the new stairs and lower deck.

So what did we do? We woke up early, grabbed our 30 percent off coupon and headed down to Sherwin Williams for some deck stain. Oh yeah, deck stain. You know what they say, right? No stain, no gain. “They” don’t really say that, but they probably should, since a little preventative staining helps keep the deck in tip-top shape from sun and water damage.


The lower deck is a knotty cedar, so we wanted to keep the stain pretty natural and let the grain of the wood really shine. We were mainly looking for the water and sun protection and help in blending the looks of the new and old decks. And? Success.

Natural Oil-Based Toner

Natural Oil-Based Toner

We bought two gallons and ended up using the Sherwin Williams Deckscapes Exterior Oil Toner Stain in Natural. We were hoping for the water-based toner, which they’ve advertised, but only a handful of stores in the STATE carried it. So, oil it was. We used this stain. It ended up costing ~ $35 per gallon with the coupon.

While we were at Sherwin Williams we also bought a paint pad, specifically used for painting/staining decks. We had the other necessary accessories at home: disposable gloves, a 2.5″ paint brush, about 1 million (12 in actuality) foam brushes, a paint tray and a disposable liner, and a rag for cleaning up and wiping off the stain, once it had set in.

In anticipation of our nice weather, Brandon cleaned with deck with 30-second outdoor cleaner and we let it dry for 12 hours. Boy was it clean!



I haven’t had any staining experience and Brandon has had lots, so I took his cue on what to do. It was pretty simple: cover all of the wood with stain (don’t let it pool), wait for it to dry, and wipe off the excess. And, try not to get any on yourself. (I failed in that regard.)

First, collect your supplies and re-clean the space you’re going to clean. We have two big trees in the backyard, so quite a bit of debris had fallen in the 12 hours since the last big cleaning. We used our fancy new leaf blower. Here are the other supplies you’ll need. Please note that essentially nothing will be salvageable from this project. The stain is so sticky that everything will need to be thrown away. Make sure you use good disposable gloves.


We started with the stairs and worked our way down, wiping extra stain off of the metal grid as we went. Staining took a lot longer than I expected. I think the stairs, railing and the lower deck took us three hours. It’s really not that long, but compared to my favorite pastime of spray painting, for-real painting takes an ETERNITY! Not really, but you know.

Staining, staining, staining...

Staining, staining, staining…

We started off with the normal 2.5″ paintbrush in trying to get on both sides of the railing. It didn’t work. Luckily, I had a million-pack varying sized foam brushes. (I only needed a few for a separate project, but the million-pack was such a deal, I bought 20 instead of two. Good thing I’m so resourceful and my craft room is so organized!)  The foam brushes did just the trick, but unfortunately didn’t last all that long. We used all one million (10 or so) on the stairs and deck. Pretty minimal investment for such return.

For the long, straight pieces (think railing and decking), we used pole-mounted sponge pad applicator that looked a lot like a larger version of the tool I normally use to edge paint on walls and trim. This new tool worked great, but the sponge pad kept slipping off of the applicator. It was pretty annoying but didn’t seem to effect our work. For the long decking, we used the foam brushes to spread the stain between the decking and then used the  paint pad with large, long brush strokes. This was a genius idea and I’m glad that I had it.  Once the stain was applied, we went back over it with a rag and removed it. More success!


The final product! That’s a well-stained deck!

Now for that sun to come back, so we can head down those freshly-stained stairs and enjoy the backyard and patio!

One thought on “No stain, no gain

  1. Pingback: {Wine Wednesday} Wine barrel planters | Megan's Island

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