Lessons Learned from Staining a Deck

A couple month’s ago, my husband and I decided that we should finally stain our deck… after living in our house for a few years. I know, I know… that’s bad to let untreated wood go through the elements with no protection so we finally found a free weekend on a warm northwest day to do it. And HOLY CRIPES we did not know what we were in for… especially if you want it done well. We looked up a bunch of stuff on the different steps to take, this is a really good one from Dunn Lumber.

  1. DEFINITELY clean your deck, below is pic of how gross the build was on our deck:

    You can find tons of deck cleaners at any hardware store. We went with the Beher All-in-One Wood Cleaner. You’ll want to make sure you spray the cleaner, and start scrubbing away one section at a time… we tried to spray the entire deck and found that we couldn’t scrub fast enough before the clean disappeared. Also, if you have the time, I highly recommend getting into the grooves between the plants with a flat head to get rid of any gunk or leaves built up. This is one step we didn’t do and… and we regretted it once we got to the staining part, keep reading to find out why…
  2. After rinsing off the cleaner, LET THE WOOD DRY! I can’t stress this enough, you want your deck to be dry so that there’s no water to mess with the stain (or paint, if you choose) once you put apply it.
  3. Once the wood is dry – SAND IT! We skipped this step because we were lazy… but we’re not the type to walk out onto the deck barefoot soo… skip! This is definitely a step we will do at our next go around, so if you’re the type of person to go barefoot on your deck, this is a must after a scrub.
  4. On to the fun part! We choose to go with an oil-based stain because we wanted to still see the wood grain of our deck. However, paint does last longer, it just depends on the look you want. My husband did a bunch of research on the different brands and we ultimately went with this one at Sherwin-Williams. They had a great selection of colors to choose from as well! We wanted a contrast to our cedar railings so we went with a transparent oil-based stain for the railings.
  5. On to the prep, you’ll want to cover any area that could potentially get sprayed by stain that you don’t want stained. Our deck is on the second floor, so we had to cover the concrete patio below to make sure that doesn’t get ruined either.
  6. Now, onto the kicking and screaming… the railings were a B*TCH to do, to make sure to paint all four sides was SO ANNOYING. My husband and I definitely had to switch off or we’d go crazy. Also, be prepared for how you’re going to get in and out of your house… you don’t want to walk over the area you just stained so have a plan, don’t paint yourself into a box!
  7. Also, remember those sides I was talking about in Step 1, this is where it pays off to have cleaned them, otherwise, the stain is just going to sit on top of the dirt and build up. Don’t forget to paint the sides as you go, if you don’t, the wood won’t look truly stained from all angles.
  8. Pro-tip to avoid any weird overlaps you see above, make sure to paint one entire plank at a time, we didn’t figure this out till later… you’ll want to do this so that the entire plank is evenly coated and the color is even throughout. When you get to a point where you need to refill your brush or roller, don’t start painting right on top of the area that is faded, start at an unpainted spots about 6in’ away and paint towards the faded area you want to connect to, this will help with getting a more even color across the deck instead of immediately layering the stain and having darker areas.

Voila! Deck DONE! (Ignore the crazy yard in the back… I’ll have more to come on our landscaping adventures!)

Blueberry Ricotta Scones for NFL Kickoff

Ok, ok, ok… I get it, scones aren’t really made for a football weekend, but it was a great way to kickoff the kickoff! Last week, I made a Blueberry French Toast Casserole for work and had some extra blueberries left over… a.ka. I bought too much at the store because I suck at portion control. Luckily, these blueberries were still good! I thought it’d be a nice treat for my husband and I to have some homemade scones. I scoured Pinterest for a hot minute and found this amazing recipe from Baker by Nature that incorporated everything I had left over in my fridge.

This was my first time attempting scones, and had a couple of revelations from making this recipe:

  • I never thought ricotta would make the scones so soft and chewy on the inside
  • Egg wash was key to give the outside the crunch it needs
  • I skipped the lemon because I was too lazy to go to the store – I bet the lemon drizzle would take these to a whole new level
  • My mixture was crumbly (this is what you want) – to make it easier to shape it into an 8″ round with the same thickness, I wrapped my dough in plastic wrap and slowly started pushing the dough out and then cut it… IDK if this is PC but it worked and helped all my scones comes out to be the same thickness!

I can’t wait to try to make this with other berries! Do you guys have any foolproof scone recipes? Holla at me!

What’s In My Cleaning Caddy

In my previous post, I talked about my Master Cleaning Plan and Tip #4 is to have a cleaning caddy full of the cleaning products you’ll want to have on hand. In this post, I’m going to tell you what’s in my cleaning caddy and the different supplies that I’ve found work super well for different problem areas.

  1. Find a good size caddy to carry all your goodies – you can find them at Lowe’s, Target, or Amazon
  2. DIY Granite Countertop Cleaner – This is where you’ll need an an empty spray bottle, you can re-purpose an old one like I did or buy a new one from any of the places I mentioned above. I really like this one from Andrea Dekker’s blog! I use this on all my countertops since I have granite throughout the house
  3. All Purpose Cleaner – I really like the Green Works one from Target. It’s inexpensive and does the job. I’d love to test a DIY solution once this bottle runs out
  4. DIY Shower/Tub Cleaner – If you’re like me, cleaning the tub is difficult… I’m also short so reaching across the tub to scrub is straining. However, this DIY shower/tub cleaner from Smart School House is AMAZING. I usually spray down the tub with this stuff and let it soak before I start cleaning anything in the bathroom. I will forewarn you guys… it is a strong vinegar smell so make sure to open the window and run the fan when you can!
  5. Pumice Scouring Stick – This might be TMI, but if you’ve ever noticed those hard water stains in your toilet, its kinda like a red rim in the toilet bowl… this scouring stick is AMAZING at getting rid of it. All you have to do is wet the stick and start scrubbing away and it erases that stubborn ring. I do highly recommend wearing those yellow rubber gloves when using it.. the stick is a bit abrasive on your skin.
  6. Dry Swiffer refills – This is going to be a bit ghetto, but instead of buying the fancy Swiffer duster, I use the dry pad refills and just use them to wipe areas down, especially the baseboards! This really picks up everything and helps catch everything
  7. Ceramic Cooktop Scraper – I’ve tried a few solutions to clean my cooktop… but it never really cleaned everything off my cooktop except for this! My ceramic cooktop isn’t 100% perfect, but I usually use a cooktop solution to try and get most of it off and then I use the scrapper to get the rest. There’s even a kit you can get on Amazon here!

Let me know if you have any DIY cleaning solutions or miracle products!