Friday, September 29, 2017

Finishing the deck almost killed me

I'm such a damn perfectionist, and I was losing my mind dealing with this deck.  I couldn't imagine sealing over it in the condition it was in, there were a lot of very rough parts on the deck boards particularly around the screws.  I spent foreverrrrr sanding all the screw areas smoother, thinking about the little feet in our family.  Shaun told me I was crazy, but I'm glad I took the time.  I also was totally disgusted by all the red chalk lines everywhere.  Good old deck man told me they would wash right off with soap, no that is not true.  Stop lying.  They were very obvious, and I've come to find out that type of chalk should never be used on visible portions of projects.  Figures.
I went out of my mind trying to get them off, dawn soap, other cleaners, scrub brushes, light sandpaper, even a magic eraser!  I was pretty happy with the magic eraser method initially, it seemed to work great.
Then it dried, and it looked pretty much like I had sanded it off.  Meaning, white blotches on all the boards.  I knew this might happen, since magic eraser is an abrasive, but it was still a bummer. 
Anger!!  After I did my best to remove the most obvious lines, things looked better after we used a deck cleaner on the entire thing.  More about that later in this post.  I had such a hard time trying to figure out what to do as far as the sealer.  Our deck builder recommended Ready Seal, so I got a collection of sample cans of every color (plus fan decks on pine and cedar) through their website.  It was fun to try all the different shades. 
I thought I had it all worked out to do two different shades to try to blend the pine with the cedar.  Here are two scrap pieces that accurately show the difference in color:
I tested a bunch of variances, but I thought doing mahogany on the pine and golden pine on the cedar looked the best...those are the bottom two colors. 
Then I tried doing an entire pine board with mahogany, and it looked awful.  I forgot how much I hate how pine accepts stain.  I also put the golden pine on the ACTUAL railing and hated it!!  I didn't realize as it was going on, but it turned out so orange. 
 I had only sealed the top and right post.  Not that it's hard to tell!
I was cursing myself for over an hour sanding this railing, but I did manage to get it all off.
Thank goodness!  I'm an idiot. 
Then I realized how badly the top of the railings had already turned silver since it was built.  In these photos, I had sanded the edges, not the top.  The difference between them was crazy. 
 I tried using Olympic deck cleaner like my deck builder suggested, but sanding worked much better.
The cleaner also bleached the nice patina that had developed on the pine, so we had to use the cleaner on the entire deck.  I was so annoyed, but it did help with the lighter spots we made from removing the red chalk lines. 
After everything got cleaned with the bleach, we made the decision to just keep it simple and do clear on the entire thing.  It didn't make sense to try to even out the wood tones, and I hated the way the pine accepted any colored stains.  I did compromise by taking a quart of the clear and adding the rest of the 'cedar' sample can to it for just a tiny bit of extra color - only for the top rail along the perimeter.  That top rail had been bleached so badly by the sun, it was almost white.  I think it made a difference in matching the top to the rest of the wood.
 I was very happy with the way it turned out. 
After the railings were all sealed, but before we put the clear on the deck boards:
Even the clear sealer left a very amber look to the cedar, which is not my favorite, but to be expected with an outdoor oil-based product.  And the floor was done in a flash, I initially tried to use a roller, but it used way too much sealer and wasn't any faster.  A large brush and lots of bending was the fastest way.  The final product:
I was a little disappointed by how orange the railings turned out, and how the rough cedar that is wrapped on the outside of the deck is SO dark compared to the rest, but it's really growing on me.  It just looks like wood, and I'll take the natural look of wood over composite or painted decking any day.  Here are some additional photos of how it looks right now:
I love all the knots on the cedar.  I plan to plant tall shrubs/grasses in front of the greenish framing so you don't notice that as much....and eventually, we will put in a patio at the bottom of the stairs running to the edge of the deck.   
 This is the board in particular that is so dark and distracting, but there isn't much we can do about it. 
 Lots of different wood tones in this corner!
And that is the end of my story.  I'm very glad it's over, and I'm sure we will be sealing it every single summer since there isn't much UV protection in a clear coating like this.  Here is a little before and after sealer photo for fun:
If you are curious about Ready Seal, it is a very nice product and very easy to use.  I would definitely recommend it!