Grab your wine and ice, margaritas, iced tea, lemonade—whatever it is you prefer because the deck is officially done. I mean done done. Not “but we still have to do this..” mostly done. Not, “but we still need furniture” done. I mean 100% complete and damn it feels good done.
First, a quick blast from the past to remember it used to look like this. Cripes.
Now it’s looking a little more like this:
For baluster installation, I wish I could tell you how Andy did it. The fact is though, he finished the balusters up the weekend I was MIA at my friends wedding in the Vineyard. I came home to him installing the last sets.
Because I was gone, unfortunately I missed the assembly of these. I can tell you he made them up in panels before he installed them in each section, and that he somehow made them without a single nail or screw showing. Beyond that your guess is as good as mine how he turns trees into balusters. I don’t even ask at this point, not because I’m not interested but because I have trouble comprehending how he gets from point a to point b in what seems like the snap of his fingers.
After living with the deck in it’s natural state for about a week it was time to look into protecting the wood. We knew we were going to put something on the mahogany rail to protect it from the elements but we were really on the fence about whether to also treat the cedar. It came down to a few options:
- Don’t treat the cedar and let it naturally gray
- Use an oil with a translucent color on the cedar to slow the graying and help protect it a little
- Put a dark stain on it to match the mahogany and then protect with oil
We both really liked how the cedar looked now because the natural light tone was a nice contrast between the mahogany and red/brown decking, but knowing cedar can’t stay that way forever we decided to slow the process down. With
option bullet two as our choice, we headed off to Home Depot to get a small can and see how it looked. Andy chose to use Cabot Australian Timber Oil because of it’s high-quality. We went back and forth between a lighter and darker color and pretty quickly settled on testing “natural”. It isn’t low VOC, so I looked a little like this while applying it (we only found out there was a low-voc version of this after we had already done the deck so c’est la vie). We may try the low-VOC version next year since Andy said it should likely be done annually.
If you’re wondering what the heck that is on my hand—it’s a sock with the foot cut off. I put it over my gloved hand and used it to put the stain on. Because oil is a lot more drippy than other options, and the color takes very fast, you have to be careful about application or you’ll end up with drips and odd coloring. A few tips include:
- Put a drop cloth under your balusters if you can so it doesn’t drip on your decking even if you’re going to oil the decking too. You’ll have darker drip spots underneath.
- Wear protective clothing. You don’t need to breath the fumes, or have the oil soak into your skin.
- Go slow, but not too slow. You want to be precise but not have color settle too much before you finished in the same area. It helps to do the top, baluster and bottom (with the pattern we have) in one area all at the same time.
- Don’t use too much stain at once or you’ll risk drips
We both really like how the oil looks on the mahogany and I can say it’s held up well in the torrential rain we’ve had lately. It beads up the water nicely.
Looking back, we both agree it takes a very precise hand to make sure all of the balusters get done perfectly, without dripping. As it turns out, cedar also absorbs the color unevenly. I’d say this was less to do with the product and more to do with our unfamiliarity of using it in this setting and on this wood. We could technically sand it all off and fix the couple areas that are a little drippy but a quick scrape helped and honestly, we have bigger fish to fry. Plus, I’m pretty sure most people won’t notice it and it has seemed to mellow out over a couple weeks. As far as color goes mahogany is already so dark it didn’t change the color at all, it just added a level of protection. It gave the cedar a yellow undertone which has mellowed over the last few weeks and we actually like how it all looks with the synthetic decking. Overall the verdict is good. We’re pretty happy with it. If in another year we aren’t happy with how it held up, we’ll just change it when we protect it again, and of course we’ll let you know.
Overall I am so happy with this deck. We recently got a patio set and bench from my Memere and Pepere’s house and we’ve eaten almost every meal out here that we have been able to. Just this morning I was drinking tea and gently rocking in the chair (where I am writing this post now) when Andy said, “so, is this ‘like a cup of tea’?” My response – it sure is.
It feels so incredibly good to have this deck done, and have a nice place to eat outdoors, or just hang out on the bench and read. I love having both seating areas, and I can’t wait to have people over for dinner to enjoy the birds chirping, the cool breeze and the smell of the rich hay growing.
Now onto the addition! A post coming on that soon, we’re just waiting for a few more pieces to fall into place and then it’s go time.