Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Staining much easier in theory

Layout 1 (Page 1)Okay, so here’s my week in review. Both my readers might recall that I built a big cedar deck around our house in town. There’s a bit over 1,200 square feet of deck that I personally put together in 1991. The problem with cedar decks is that they need to be stained and maintained every three to five years.

In my case I’ve forgotten how many times we’ve had to wash and re-stain our deck (my math says that once every five years would mean that this would be the fifth time we’ve had to redo the deck). It’s an arduous process.

First we have to inspect the boards to see if any need replacing, or fixing and such. It took two days to replace 14 deck boards, reinforce floor joists, and re-screw loose boards. The upside of doing this portion is that it conditioned me for the contortions involved in the next step, power washing, which prepared for the excruciating pain of staining with oil based stain.

Except for the part where we had to jack up the deck, the carpenter stuff was fairly easy and not too messy. The power washing was okay until I hit my big toe with the 3000-psi spray… yes, it left a mark. Then there’s that one spot on the deck that’s about 14 feet in the air causing one to balance on a ladder,  hoist the wand above my head and spray into the wind, which caused all the debris to ricochet into my face… I was totally soaked and began to think, “I never ever want to do this again.”

The power washing took two full days and the only good thing I can say about that phase is I got a 48-hour break because the deck needs to dry before it can be stained. I managed to somehow piddle the time away and returned to the dreaded task of staining.

I bought a $40 brush and took on the contortions involved in staining. First the benches, not too bad until the paint ran onto the backs forcing me to lean over the railing that I had already stained. Yep, that would be the point when I ruined my first shirt. Then there was the part where I had to lay on my belly to get under the benches. It was here that I discovered that getting into the proper contortion is much easier than getting out of it.

As I crawled under the bench, banged my head a few times, and stretched for all I could to reach one of those unreachable spots all I could think was “I never ever want to do this again.” Then when my body groaned and moaned its way out of this contortion I caught myself repeating “I never ever want to do this again” as I tried to get my creaky old body to stand up.

Finally I completed the benches and railings and it was time to do the deck. So I got down on my knees and began brushing. When my knees couldn’t take it any longer I shifted to my butt, and then laid on my side and it didn’t take long to discover that I had been literally rolling around in wet paint. I couldn’t tell if I had put more paint on the deck or my body… but I was too busy to stop so I kept on rolling and rolling and rolling and thinking “I never ever want to do this again.”

It took a tad over three full days to stain the entire deck and as I recall I began thinking “I never ever want to do this again” after the first 15 minutes into this project. So after seven full days of committing myself to completing this, the professional painter in my family informed me that I had to put on a second coat… to which I actually groaned out loud “I never ever want to do this again.”

So there I was, trapped in the vortex of doing something that I not only never ever want to do again, but worse yet never really wanted to do in the first place.

Here’s hoping you can handle whatever “never ever want to do this again” project when it comes time to do it again… Hang in there…