backyard blitz: the deck, part 2

Well. After backyard blitz: the deck, part 1 wherein we painted ALL the beams above the deck, it was time to prep the actual decking itself for painting. If you looked at the picture below, it'd look like the deck was still all pretty and deeply oiled and not in need of a redo. bike on deck

BUT, the edges and stairs of the deck scream for help:

deck in need of oiling/painting

Every time it rained, the plague-like wearing down of the deck crept inwards, and this was in just 2 short months we've lived here, so we decided to do something about it.

We chose painting it over oiling it for several reasons - from the research I did on the vast internets, it turned out oiling lasts 12-18 months, and painting can last 3-6 years. I know what I'D rather be doing every summer other than re-oiling that damn deck. (Ok, I don't KNOW but you get the idea). Paint meant we could match the deck to the house (and you KNOW I'm all about the pretty pretty matchy matchy), and paint seemed a lot harder to mess up. Both painting and oiling require the same kind/amount of prep, and with paint, you can cover up your mistakes. Off we went, looking for advice on painting the deck.

The problem is, because of our mild-ish weather here in Australia, it turns out MOST people oil their decks. Even those that live by the sea with the harsh salt water and sun. Oiling was the way to go, lots of people gravely assured me, indeed, many had never heard of painting the deck before (and clearly thought I was crazy). My favourite was a male friend who knows of my lack of DIY skill (but didn't realise my great www research skills) who gently told me, with the air of someone telling a child that Santa Claus doesn't exist, "No no NO, Sharon, you're mistaken. Decks don't get painted. Decks get oiled. You're PRETTY!"

Usually, inserting that last sentence would've been deterrent enough for me to try something I'd never done before, but this time, I was determined. I'd researched this, y'all, and I was going to do it the way thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of Americans did it.

As with all kinds of finishing work, prepping and priming is the bulk of the job. We got a lot of conflicting advice about how to strip the wood to prep it for painting - paint specialists who flat out told us you couldn't paint over wood, people who suggested getting a floor sander (those big lawnmower types) to grind the crap out of it, and yet others who assured us just slapping the paint on after a rinse with a high pressure water cleaner would do the job.

What we ended up doing was an amalgamation of all the simplest methods we got advised, put together to create an arsenal of stripping that wood. It seemed to work great. So here it is, The Deck Part 2, wherein we strip that baby down. This post is dedicated to all you other Aussies who desperately want to paint your deck but keep getting told it can't be done. HA.

(note: I'm sorry about the crappy photo quality and our horrendous outfits. we don't exactly walk around with a DSLR in our designer clothes to paint and sand!)

We armed ourselves with a cleaning/stripping duo of detergents first of all:

sugar soap and deck cleaner

And we invested in... a Karcher high pressure water cleaner. HELLO, GORGEOUS:

karcher high pressure water cleaner

It's description on the Karcher website: For frequent and powerful cleaning of large areas around the home e.g. moss-covered and very dirty surfaces.

Oooooh la la.

We started with the sugar soap, and basically scrubbed it all over the deck liberally.

scrubbing down the deck with sugar soap

After giving it a good scrub, I got Mr Karcher working. Oh boy. Was this exciting. Mr Karcher is one real man! It gallantly blasted all the soapy debris OFF the deck, and with such brawn and alacrity!

sharon using the karcher high water pressure cleaner on the deck

THEN, we did a second stripping, with deck cleaner that's specially formulated to help prepare decks for oiling/staining. (Shh, don't tell it we weren't doing that!)

We diluted it as instructed, then brushed it on. S got a little distracted.


But he looked SOOOOO cute so I didn't crack the whip too hard.

After brushing it on, we let it sit for 10 minutes to really let it loosen the oils or do whatever voodoo thing it was meant to do:

deck cleaner for stripping the deck

You can see the deck is starting to look a bit more worn already, which is exactly what we wanted, but we were concerned that there was still too much oil in there. Oh well, we figured we'd take it as it came.

After the deck cleaner had soaked for a bit, we Mr Karchered it again, this time using the "weapon of mass destruction" attachment. This made SERIOUS jets of water that lambasted everything within sight - in fact, it tore weeds from the pavement, stripped paint off the wall I tested it on (oops) and this got me a little more excited than it should've:

karcher high water pressure cleaner is awesome

After warning S not to be annoying whilst I had that thing in my hands, I sprayed or rather OBLITERATED the deck cleaner soapiness from the boards.

Then, I gave it a second jet, but this time followed each line BETWEEN the decking boards to get all the mud/grime/oil out of them. A lot of gunk and soap came out, so don't skip this step!

high pressure water cleaner to clean between decking boards

Lastly, we decided to give the deck a light sanding. We don't have much experience with the electric hand sander, so S decided to do it BY HAND. People, can I just tell you right now how much respect I have for this man, going to sand down a 30 sq metre deck by hand?? So off he got to work, with determination and zeal.

sanding down the deck

hand sanding the deck

I sat there and watched, in silent awe. He works fast and diligently, and was done in under 2 hours! If that doesn't deepen your love, what else would?!

After the sanding, we did one last blast with the water cleaner. You can see even wet, the redness has been stripped out beautifully, and the raw wood is starting to show. Exactly what we wanted.

wet decking

We crossed our fingers and waited for it to dry...

And success!

stripped down deck for painting - after sanding

The wood was now pretty stripped, a little raw (but not too much), and smooth for a lovely painting surface. So there you have it, THAT is how you strip, prime and prep a deck for painting - with many little steps, lots of cleaning, and some (of S's) elbow grease!

deck stripped ready for painting

PART 3 comes tomorrow people, and that's where you get to see the finished, beautiful, painted deck!