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Spring One Room Challenge Week 3: Deck Prep and Staining

One of the largest tasks on our One Room Challenge to-do list was the deck! We have boards that are pretty rotten so we know the deck won’t last more than a few more years, but wanted to make it last as long as we could because have you SEEN those wood prices lately?! $$$ This post goes over a step-by-step process of how to properly prepare and clean your deck for staining, how we stained, and what exact stain we used. It’s the perfect read if you’re thinking of refinishing your deck! Difficulty level is definitely beginner! Anyone can do this, it just takes some time and muscle!

You can check out the step-by-step guide to building a Privacy Screen that we did last week for more outdoor ideas to amp up your space. Also, check out our entire Moodboard for the backyard!

Deck Staining & Refinishing how-to with prep instructions for beginners

The Before

Here’s a photo of the deck before ANY form of cleaning. Notice how dark and dirty it looks! So many discolourations.

Deck Staining & Refinishing how-to with prep instructions for beginners

Prepping the Deck for Stain

This is one of THE most important parts for making sure stain is applied evenly and looks great! It definitely takes longer than the staining does as there are multiple steps that should be followed:

PRESSURE WASHING: Our deck was very old and had a ton of debris and filth on it so we chose to power wash the deck. You don’t have to do this part, but it worked well for us to get most of the dirt and dark spots off.

SANDING: A few days later we swept the deck and started sanding. I used our Milwaukee Orbit Sander with an 80 grit pad. We went through quite a few pads, about 6-7, as the deck was rough, so we bought this Sandpaper Set off Amazon. It comes with many different grits and was a great price, so thought we’d get use out of it for future projects. We did a light sand over the entire deck to get rid of any uneven areas and so the stain would soak in and adhere to the boards well.

Deck Staining & Refinishing how-to with prep instructions for beginners

CLEANER: We then used this wood cleaner by Benjamin Moore over the entire surface (This is probably the most important part!) Most paint brands have a version or you could buy a generic brand at your local hardware store. We used a deck brush that attaches to any broom handle to apply it. Read the instructions on the back of your bottle but ours we had to dilute with water. It was about a 1:3 ratio of solution to water. We put that mixture in a bucket and it said to do small sections than rinse it off with a hose which is what we did. We split the deck into 4 sections and cleaned. We left it overnight as it says to let it dry for 24 hours and WOW we actually noticed such a big difference from the deck boards we started with to now.

After all the prep work:

Deck Staining & Refinishing how-to with prep instructions for beginners

Notice the HUGE difference from the first photo! Look how clean it is! Almost all even coloured. We couldn’t get some of the old paint off the benches and railing, but were very impressed with how well following the steps above, worked on the deck. We almost didn’t want to choose a solid stain anymore lol! But it was still too discoloured for us not to.

Staining the Deck

A rule of thumb is to have the deck dry for 48 hours before staining so keep an eye on the weather!! It should be a sunny week as you should be putting on two coats, depending on your stain choice.

Pretty much every paint company has it’s own stain line. I did a lot of research and we ended up going with the Arborcoat Exterior Stain line by Benjamin Moore. DeckOver by Behr was a close second for it’s strength and durability. We knew since our boards weren’t the greatest that we wanted to do a Solid Stain. I ended up going with White OC-151. My white porch dreams were coming true!! Staining a solid colour is SO much better than painting as it will fade over time instead of chip and look patchy.

Deck Staining & Refinishing how-to with prep instructions for beginners

We used a 5-inch Deck Staining Brush attached to a broom handle to apply the stain to the deck. You can use a sprayer if you have one too if easier!

Ours said to wait 3-4 between coats. After the first coat it was already looking great, but the second coat was definitely needed for a solid colour stain. We used the stain brush and just wiped it on like you would with a wall. See photo below!

Deck Staining & Refinishing how-to with prep instructions for beginners


Here are the after photos! It’s definitely coming together and we’re so happy with how it turned out. I can’t wait to add our furniture and style it so it can look like a finished product!!

Deck Staining & Refinishing how-to with prep instructions for beginners

Be sure to follow along with us on Instagram for live updates of this beautiful outdoor oasis reno!! Be sure to check out all of the other guest participants & the amazing room transformations to come on the One Room Challenge Blog!

Thanks for following along!

Deck Staining & Refinishing how-to with prep instructions for beginners

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  • Reply
    May 20, 2021 at 4:25 am

    What a transformation! Definitely not feeling the lumber prices at the moment. Can’t wait to see it all come together

  • Reply
    May 20, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    WOW! That’s quite a transformation! Looking good so far!

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