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Deck Makeover, Part II – Staining Pressure-Treated Wood

Last week I showed you how I prepped the deck for staining and now…drumroll please…here’s a look at the deck with its lovely new coat of Cape Cod Grey:

As a refresher, here is the deck pre-stain and post-scrub:

And a side-by-side comparison, for fun:

I originally had a genius idea for the stain: I wanted to find a really close match to our walnut-stained maple hardwood flooring so it would look like the house extended outside.  When I looked at stain samples, however, my bubble was burst because the closest matches just looked really drab (and really red).

No problem, I had a plan B: a pale, driftwood grey.  Something about this fresh lake air has me wanting everything to look driftwood-y, have you noticed?  The plan for kitchen counters (but luckily the white worked better), and then the credenza top… I’m really feeling grey right now.  I also figured that grey stain would be forgiving and hide any irregularities in how the wood absorbed the stain, because there isn’t too great a contrast between the unstained wood and the grey stain.  If a little natural wood peeked through…meh.

I decided that variations would only enhance the (artfully) weathered, driftwood look I wanted.  Genius, right?  A design scheme that lends itself well to colossal screw ups!  Unfortunately, I didn’t account for the stain complementing the existing exterior because I had hoped we’d have time to paint the house almost-black this year.  I’m not loving the grey with the concrete faux stone, but it doesn’t loo bad either.  Hopefully next spring a darker exterior will materialize and my plan will come together.

At that point I’ll also garden a bit (what’s a weed?) and then (more excitingly) style the deck a bit!  The thought of sewing outdoor pillows and accessorizing will keep me going through the winter.  We pushed our patio table to the side and use the built-in bench in lieu of some of the chairs because this way it’s functional but doesn’t block a view.  Positioned elsewhere it’s all we saw.  Plus this way we have room for our patio loungers for weekend reading!

I chose CIL brand Exterior wood stain (in semi-transparent), from Canadian Tire, and was pleased with the application.  It took almost three gallons and three days to apply the stain, however, so I only got one coat on.   The maximum applications recommended is two coats.

There are some variations in the stain intensity, but that’s 100% attributed to my application and the wood.  A second coat would even out the stain, but it would be more opaque.  I’m going to leave it, and possibly apply another coat next season.  We’ve had some rainfall recently, and the stain is causing water to bead up on the deck.  This means it’s working well to protect the wood, so I’m beaming with pride.

Once again, here’s the before:

Applying the stain was straightforward: I just brushed it on with a large brush, keeping a wet edge and working in small sections.  The stain had a nice consistency: not too thick, not too drippy.  It was easy to clean up (just soap and water).  We used three brushes: a big thick wide one, a 2″ angled brush, and one with a super short handle for tight spots.  This combo was ideal.

We also tried the Wagner Deck Mate stain applicator and it was terrible!!  No matter how much I fiddled with the settings, the stain either gushed out or barely flowed.  The pad made it streaky and uneven.  I was so disappointed, but it was a valuable life lesson: in DIY, as in life, there are no short cuts!

Deck Staining Tips:

  • The best time to stain a deck is spring or fall when the humidity is low and it’s not scorchingly hot.  If it’s too hot or humid, the stain might dry too quickly (or slowly), ruining the finish
  • Having a small broom is handy to brush out debris from the cracks – even if the deck was recently cleaned and swept
  • Starting on the most tedious sections (while energy levels are high) makes this task easier
  • To stain railings, having one person applying the stain to the front and another on the opposite side works well because each can catch the others’ drips – this makes the railing process go a lot more smoothly
  • Working away from the house seems like common sense but it’s easy to loose sight of an exit strategy in the heat of the moment
  • Working in long sections – the entire length of a few boards, not 1/3 of the length of 6+ boards at once would ensure a more even application (I learned this on the second last board)
  • Buying a set of cushy knee pads isn’t a waste of money
  • Following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter is always a good idea!

I’m happy!  The deck looks fresher.  And hopefully the deck will last longer with this protective coat (which will protect against rot, mildew, cracking, and more).  One thing I hadn’t thought about was how much the grey would brighten the house from inside.  It reflects more light inside (if that’s possible), which makes me think a darker stain would have had the opposite effect, so I’m even happier my walnut-stain idea was dead in the water.

We still need to re-build the deck step and next year I’m going to paint the lattice black so it fades into the abyss that is the space beneath the deck.  Oh yeah, and garden…

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Canadian Tire.  With the help of my local Canadian Tire paint department, all products were chosen by me.  I was not encouraged to choose a certain brand or use certain products.  I was not asked to provide a review of any of the products used.  I was simply asked to stain my deck and show it off!  All opinions and editorial decisions are my own.  

P.S. I’m over at Cuckoo 4 Design, gabbing about Szuka for Julia’s famed Living Pretty with Your Pets series!



  1. Casey @Waffling
    September 26, 2014 / 12:52 pm

    I think the stain ties in well with the stone!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 26, 2014 / 4:52 pm

      Thanks! It's a little less blue than in some of these photos, but still more blue than the stone. I would have wanted a warmer grey if keeping the stone was the plan. Ahhh, plans. Mine always seem subject to change.

  2. Julia Konya
    September 26, 2014 / 2:27 pm

    love the color you chose. Looks fantastic and thanks for the shout out!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 26, 2014 / 4:53 pm

      Thanks Julia! Thanks for having us on your blog. I shared with my friends on instagram too. Oh, should tweet the cute photo of Szuka and I too!

  3. Patricia
    September 26, 2014 / 2:27 pm

    Hi Tanya, great job! I actually like the grey stain with the faux stone; in the photos it matches well. Those tips will come in handy when we build our deck next year, thanks.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 26, 2014 / 4:54 pm

      Thanks Patricia! Luckily it's not too bad a match. Whew!!

  4. Brynne Delerson
    September 26, 2014 / 2:58 pm

    Mmm, that gray is going to look so good with the future darker exterior. I love your vision!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 26, 2014 / 4:55 pm

      Hopefully the exterior can be painted next year! Baby steps!!

  5. Haley
    September 26, 2014 / 3:34 pm

    I love the gray stain! Not so much with the current exterior, but I know you have plans for it and I see the potential. I can't wait to see the black exterior in the spring!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 26, 2014 / 4:56 pm

      Black might not work out, but I hope it can. I will have to work outhe my plans this winter and hit the ground running as soon as the snow melts. Ugh. Hope it's a short winter..

  6. Rick
    September 26, 2014 / 5:45 pm

    Now that it's all finished, you can enjoy the deck and stop worrying about the sunshine. It all looks amazing!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 3, 2014 / 6:48 am

      So true!! It's been really nice to have it completed because even from inside I see it everyday. Even on rainy days I'm pretty happy it's done. The water beads up perfectly and the deck seems to dry quicker.

  7. cred
    September 27, 2014 / 1:33 pm

    I love it. Can't wait to see the whole house painted. The dark walls will looks great with the grey deck.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 3, 2014 / 6:48 am

      I'm so disappointed the house painting didn't happen this year, but I think I was overly ambitious about timelines…

  8. tailsaroundtheranch
    October 4, 2014 / 12:27 am

    Holy cow, it turn out fabulous! And Szuka is getting cuter every time I see photos of her (and bigger!) 🙂

  9. Brian
    October 24, 2014 / 2:39 pm

    Incredibly good turnout– deck staining isn't easy by any means, but you make it look like it is. Nice job!

  10. Joseph McLaughlin
    May 5, 2017 / 12:30 pm

    We love the look… What was the name of the color used to get the blue gray effect? Thanks

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 15, 2017 / 4:49 pm

      Thanks! It's CIL's "Cape Cod Grey". Happy staining!

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