If the deck boards on my front porch ever had a finish, it was long gone before I bought the house 10 years ago. The dull gray decking combined with my gray steel siding had to produce an unimpressive "blah" first impression on our visitors. The boards were so dull, I actually thought they were treated pine, but they turned out to be cedar—a pleasant surprise. Luckily, only a small portion of the porch saw direct sunlight, so all the wood was solid and just needed to be cleaned up a bit, which I took care of with a pressure washer.
I let the decking dry out for a couple of days before heading to the home center to pick up the stain. I had one foot out the door before my wife unloaded her shopping list on me, which required a stop at Walmart. While there, I happened to pass the painting department and noticed a shelf stocked with Thompson's WaterSeal cans. I almost kept walking because I always assumed Thompson's only made clear products, and I was hoping to add a little color. I assumed wrong-there was a whole bunch of waterproofing stains to choose from.
In addition to several color options, each color came in either a tinted or semi-transparent form, semi-transparent being the darker of the two. It turned out that the trip to the home center wasn't necessary after all—I love killing two birds with one trip to the store. I bought the tinted Natural Cedar, which produced a soft color that left most of the wood grain visible. The best part was the fact that it only cost $18 a can, about half of what I expected to pay—I win again.
After taping off the siding, I rolled out the stain with a 3/8-in. nap roller and worked it in with a staining pad on a broomstick. I brushed it on the areas where the decking met the balusters and posts. The Thompson's stain went down great! Not including the drying time after pressure washing, the whole project took me about half a day (that includes touching up dog paw prints), and boy, what a difference. I wish I'd done it 10 years ago.
— Mark Petersen, Contributing Editor
Nice job. Did you use a Sprayglide when you were doing the prep with your pressure washer? I just tried it and it cut the cleaning time in half.
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