Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Saving Our Deck

We saved our deck with composite railings &
painted it with Rustoleum Restore (in Lagoon)

Its February 2014. My husband and I are standing side by side, deep in thought starring out the back door at our deck. Our miserable, splinter-giving, wood-cracking, railing-failing deck. It's a total piece. of. crap. We know what’s coming, but the task seems incredibly overwhelming. The deck needs to be cleaned, stripped, re-painted and the railing needs replacement.

We will ultimately do all of the work ourselves, but before that decision is made, I inquire about some quotes from local contractors. Multiple contractors never even show up after our scheduled appointment. One showed up and never got back to us. The quotes that we did manage to get (for just the railing) range from $2,000 to $2,850. Our budget for the entire deck (railing AND painting) is $2,500.

Old deck. It was even worse than this by the time we fixed it!

Okay then. We’re doing this ourselves.  But if we’re doing this, we’re doing it once. That’s all. So after doing some research online, we decide on composite railing. Why composite railing? It’s low maintenance, it’s easy to install, it’s durable, it doesn't need painting and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty. It’s basically the best thing to happen to decks ever in life. Ever.

So Chris and I take some measurements and I draw up a blueprint of the deck. I recommend doing this. I’m a super visual person and numbers scare me so having something to reference is essential. We figure out how much of which type of railing we will need (railing comes in 6 and 8 foot sections). We’ll also get post jackets that slide over the existing wooden posts, base trim parts, post tops and all the pieces for the stairs. 

Blueprint of our deck railing. Very helpful!

We purchased the Veranda Traditional Railing from Our total for everything is $1,282.08 (tax and shipping included). While we're waiting for our railing to show up, we start on the deck. We head over to Ace Hardware for replacement boards, deck screws, stripping agents, deck cleaner and wood putty. We probably spent another $200 or so there. Tearing down the old railing was unsettlingly easy. Chris cut up the railings with his new circular saw and put em' in our fire pit.

The cleaning and pressure washing begins.

Our plan is to clean, strip and paint the deck before we install the rails. However, we’re repainting the deck with Rust-Oleum Restore. Per the directions, “DO NOT APPLY IF RAIN IS EXPECTED WITHIN 48 HOURS OF APPLICATION. Apply when surface and air temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees F for a full 72 hours (day and night).” 

Well … Shit. 

It’s April in eastern Kentucky. It rains. A lot. This changes up our plans, but everything works out. We spend 4 weekends cleaning, power washing, stripping, sanding, replacing boards and filling in cracks with wood putty. (This would have probably taken a LOT LESS time, but we have a baby, so that complicates everything.)

Umm also, please wear jeans and work boots when you strip your deck by power washing. Splinters will fly up and attack your legs and it will hurt.

Wearing shorts while power washing
is not a good idea.
Our railing shows up during the cleaning/stripping process, so after the deck is prepared, we install the railing (which we can actually do in the rain). It takes a while to figure out, but once we get one railing in, the others are easy as pie. 

New railing shows up! Yay!
We watched a few YouTube videos beforehand, and Lowe's has a How-To section on their website where you can download instructions. Chris actually put most of it up himself. I helped a little. I hand him screws and held the power drill.

Then it was onto painting. We used Rust-Oleum® Deck &Concrete Restore® 10X in Lagoon.  It’s a beautiful blue. It’s nontraditional, but I love it. If anyone tells you that decks should be wooden colored only, tell them to suck a rainbow. I’m a little nervous though, because reviews vary for this product. Some people love it. Others hate it. It worked for us. It’s thick and covers cracks, lays down splinters, hides imperfections and it is weather-resistant.

We’ll need 10 three-gallon buckets of this stuff. At $69.00 a piece, it will cost us $690. LUCKILY, Lowe’s was having a spring special (it’s May) for $10 off, so we get a $100 check back in the mail about six weeks later. So really, it was $590. We still have a full bucket and a half in the garage too. That’s after we used two coats.

We also purchase honeycomb rollers, painter’s tarp (to cover the railing), duct tape to protect the brick, and the other usual painting materials.

It takes us two weekends to complete the painting due to baby demands and uncooperative weather. You guys, I was so sick of seeing blue paint by the end of this. All the while, our deck furniture littered the backyard. We looked pretty white-trashy. 

Our total cost is around $2,200. That includes all the railing, hardware, Restore and painting supplies. We splurge around another $300 for a new table umbrella, rug, deck box and swing cushions. I'm very happy with the railing and the paint. Even better, we can actually walk on it. Without shoes!


Tips from my experience:

RAILING: I paid the $55 for shipping to get all the railing sent to my house. Well worth it. It's a lot of material and it's heavy. 

DIRECTIONS: Read the directions and follow them exactly for the Restore. Do not think that this paint will stick to a painted deck. It won’t. You have to follow the directions. I’ll say it again. You have to follow the directions. There is one spot on our deck where I just couldn't get the previous stain up and the Restore chipped right off. The rest of the deck is fine because I got all the stain off.

HONEYCOMB ROLLER: Those honeycomb rollers are kind of a pain-in-butt. They really don’t last as long as you’d expect because the material is so thick. Buy a few of them and be sure to watch them as you’re rolling on the paint. When pieces of the roller start coming off, change it out for a new one or they will stick to the paint and be stuck on your deck. It’s not cute.

SAVE: If you have a large deck, scope out multiple stores (Ace, Home Depot, Lowe’s) for rebate specials. Restore is expensive and any little bit of savings can really help.

RECYCLE: The painter buckets that the Restore comes in actually clean out very easily. I ended up cleaning them out, spray painting them, printing out some labels and using them as garage storage after we were finished.

GIVE IT A TRY: My husband majored in Chemical Engineering. I majored in Journalism. Neither of us have any experience with carpentry. But we were able to get this job done and I'm super proud of both of us for it. So if you're scared, well, stop being scared and give it try.


As always, I hope this provides some sort of helpful or inspiring information. 


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