The (ongoing) DIY deck disaster

Six years ago, I made what was certainly my biggest home-related blunder.

I dared to fall in love with the notion of a two-toned deck: dark stain paired with crisp white paint. I was enamoured with how it looked (so classic!) and stupidly rushed into a long-term relationship that has caused nothing but pain and frustration.


The honeymoon period was short, and by springtime all I could see were the flaws. Months of shovelling snow off the front steps had scrapped the stain and chipped the paint. It was agonizing because it had taken many, many days of sweat equity to get it off the ground, and now it all had to be worked on again.


You see, not only had I chosen a very dark stain (Sico’s Autumn Brown) — I’d accidentally chosen a very thick, non-sheer formula that was basically paint. The can said “semi-transparent,” but it should have said “Thick, unyielding substance that is not even a little bit transparent and will chip like paint.”

Et tu, Brute?

We made it even worse by slapping more coats on each summer to hide the chipped-off areas, mostly because we shuddered at the work that would be involved in sanding it all off.

Four years ago, I wrote this about our two-toned deck: “When it looks good, it looks very, very good. When it looks bad, it looks horrid.” I moaned that “the hassle of maintaining it has taken years off my life.”

We’re finally doing something about it.

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, MY Handmade Home …

4 Comments on “The (ongoing) DIY deck disaster

  1. we inherited a painted deck (Baby blue!) so I went over it with a solid stain in grey. It looks much better, but still have to touch it up every few years. Luckily the boards we walk on were never painted so we didn’t have to deal with that part – just the rails and the spindles. My brother had a painted deck floor and made it easy by unscrewing and flipping the boards over – no more painted floors and less work than sanding!


    • read your article about your deck,I hear these stories a lot,than out comes the pressure washers,I have been in the painting and wallcovering over 40 years,I also see people or diy;s on you tube ,apparently showing people how to do it.I Shake my head anything for attention,right.How to strip a deck ,get a garden sprayer,you know the kind you pump and has a wand,fill it with deck stripper 2,spray deck with garden hose ,then spray on stripper,let sit15/20 min,use a nylon deck brush with a long handle and scrub,it should most stain than hose off with garden hose,oh and if sanding has to be done no 100 grit no 80 grit,more like 60 or 40 when I have to sand mine I use a belt with 40,my go to stain is ben more arborcoat in translucent teak oil base not latex,TAKE2 or 3 boards and brush all the way to the end trying to keep a wet edge,Hope this helps, NICK


      • Oh man, I wish we’d had this advice before we did it! Excellent tips, Nick! (We did use 40 and 60 grit sandpaper, at least.)


    • Flipping the boards is genius. That’s EXACTLY what we ended up doing on steps, actually — the risers — which I’ll explain in this coming weekend’s article. 🙂 I wish we could have done it with allllllll of the porch boards, but it’s the length of the house and would have been a ton of work. Solid stains/paints = worst, basically.


So what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: