I had hoped to get the south porch decking sealed last year when I sealed the north porch but my body decided I was not going to do that. (I was SO SORE!) Watching the water pond instead of soak into the north porch decking was very satisfying and that made looking at the tired south porch deck suck up the water and grow algae all the more painful.

Even though the job is a big one, I was itching to get started but had to wait until the summer 90-degree temps left because the sealant requires a specific temperature range (and heat stroke is not pleasant). Finally everything was perfect in October. Remembering the previous year's pain, I decided to do the south porch in two stages: the steps and area not covered by the shed roof were first and the area under the shed roof was second. Additionally, the wood had to be cleaned before it could be sealed. I remembered that it took a couple days for the wood to dry out between cleaning and being able to seal, so that would also help me recover.

First to do: gather all the tools for the job

  • pressure washer
  • long-handled roller with a fresh roller cover/brush
  • roller pan with disposable liner
  • disposable paint brush duck-taped to a length of lightweight bamboo
  • small bucket with lid
  • 5-gallon bucket of sealant
  • stirrer (used with an electric drill)
  • rags
  • painters tape
pressure washer full pressure washer tips

Above is the pressure washer I used. Yes, it is new, thanks for noticing, LOL. I pulled my previous pressure washer out of the basement and discovered that one of us had somehow stepped on the plug which bent one of the tines 90 degrees and basically broke it off inside of the casing rendering the entire unit unuseable (unless I could get it repaired, of course). This dilemna delayed the start of the project while I considered repairing the unit to replacing the unit. As you already know, I opted to replace it.

The former pressure washer would have been OK for the job at hand, but the new one has more power and that let me get the decking cleaned SO MUCH quicker. I am very happy with the decision and actually look forward to cleaning stuff with it.

This pressure washer is electric and has a ground/fault/interrupt plug but it is still important to make sure water won't travel along the cord back to your electricity source. I was able to use the porch railing as my fail-safe with my heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cord.

Follow the directions of your pressure washer! Especially be sure that your hose is clear of debris inside (make sure the water runs free and clear) before you attach it to your washer. You'll use a bit more water, but you'll be happy to not clog up your washer and/or the filter.


valspar sealant - transparent cedar

This is the same product I used on the north porch last year. The color isn't exactly what I wanted, but I decided it would be nice to have the two (2) porches match.

The photo on the bucket makes the color look more blond and transparent than the end product is. The "Transparent Cedar" ends up being a bit orangey and more stained than transparent.

I didn't take pictures of my brushes - pretty self explanatory. The disposable paint brush duck-taped to the length of bamboo is handy for dabbing sealant into tight areas like corners and between the deck boards and into irregularities that the roller brush doesn't get.

I probably could have used a roller brush for rough surfaces, but the disposable brush worked fine.

deck clean and still wet

I don't have any images of me doing the work. It's really pretty simple and I'm sure you can find images of people using pressure washers and rolling sealant on the internet.

I think the key is to find a technique/system that works for you. It took me a good 1-1/2 hours to work out an efficient way of using the water pressure so that I didn't have to make multiple passes. I used the 25-degree tip to get the broadest stroke with the most power. I then angled the tip so that I could basically "sweep" with it from side to side. What worked for me may not be what works for you.

In total, this area plus the three (3) stairs took me three (3) hours (plus a break between sessions).

deck clean and dry

I didn't intentionally decide to clean the board past the center post under the shed roof, but I'm really glad I did clean it with the first part. It turned out that made finishing the second part a lot easier to see and do.

It rained a couple times after I cleaned the first part, so I had to wait an extra couple of days before I could apply the sealant.

What a difference just pressure washing makes! (I did not use any chemical cleaner - just pressurized water.)

The finished first half. Time to apply: three (3) hours.

Just like with cleaning, I had to develop a technique/system. Even with the cooler temps, the sun was out the day I applied the sealant and the wood was SO porous, the sealant got sucked in and started drying more quickly than I expected. Which means that if I rolled over a previous section, the stain and sealant left little droplets on the surface so that I ended up rolling a really dry roller over it to pick up that wasted product.

I originally thought I had to do two applications, but one was plenty! I just made sure to have a full roller so that the wood got as much as it would accept the first pass and then did a smoothing pass as I moved on to the next area.

I rolled each board stopping where there were obvious breaks and by rolling only three boards deep before moving on meant I didn't need to move the roller pan too often.

The same area from a different angle. (Both taken in cloudy conditions.)

The color is not as orange in the image as were the actual results. I actually like the look of the aged wood (of the part not done at all) so the stained color bothered me at first. "At first" being the important part of that sentence, LOL.

I like that you can see the character of the wood through the stain. This is why it is "transparent" and not "opaque".

I also find it interesting to compare the clean wet to the dry and to the stained images.

I like that the newer replacement boards are not as obvious now that the stain is applied. And yes, you do see a rotting board in the image. Nothing is ever completely perfect.

sealant on top

This image is taken from the foot of the steps (the plastic thing is an LED solar-powered light on the riser of the top step).

Full disclosure time: I probably should have used a roller for rough surfaces so that the sides of each board got covered with sealant.

Do you see the drips and not stained sides of the boards?

I considered going back over the gaps using a regular brush, but I was tired and decided I could live with it.

So this is your forewarning: don't forget to consider the edges when sealing.

water ponding

This is what makes the whole thing worthwhile! Water doesn't soak in, it sits on top until you either sweep it through the gaps or leave it to evaporate.

Funny how water on it makes the color different.

By the way, the stain sealant takes 24 hours to dry before you can put furniture on it.

part 2 clean and wet

It was another week before I could get to the second half.

We moved the furniture and other bits out from under the shed roof onto the already sealed half. Happily, it did not rain while everything was exposed.

Here you see the second half pressure washed by the patio doors. It turned out to be a warm day and this area is more protected so sealant from the last time wasn't completely gone on portions closer to the house.

I thought it would be easier to clean this area, but I was wrong.

Took me the same amount of time to clean as the first half: three (3) hours.

part 2 clean and wet

I worked from the house outward to the previous area (which is why there are drier patches close to the house).

The shadow of the roof makes it impossible to see here, but those boards are still dark from the previous stain.

You can see the actual "orangey" color of the stained/sealed area in this image that is brightly sunlit.

A few days later the area was dry enough to apply the sealant.

The hubby was kind enough to tape the edge of the house for me. (I have a hard time working on my knees and bending over for long periods of time.)

Another cloudy day for taking pictures.

A different angle of the finished second half.

I'm not sure if you can see that the three (3) boards closest to the house are darker from the window to the patio doors.

The old sealant was in pretty good shape there and the new stain added to the old color. The wood DID need sealing and the new sealant didn't just sit on top of the old stuff.

This area didn't take quite as much sealant as the first half, which I suppose makes sense since it has been a bit less exposed and weather beaten.

Just another image to show you what a difference sunlight makes compared to overcast when it comes to describing the color of something.

You also can see all the stuff waiting for the sealant to dry enough that we can move it back into place (24 hours).

Here is the finished product with everything put back in place.

We added a different outdoor runner by the door since the darker deck made it difficult to see the black cat at the door, LOL.

The sky was overcast but very bright and so you can see the color of the deck in these two (2) images.

I'm really happy that we had the trim painted that dark brown; it shows the stain color off well. I'm now thinking of it as "coppery" instead of "orangey", LOL.

Below is an image of what the porch looked like after it was stained in 2013.

sealed in 2013

The color of that stain was a bit browner than the new stain.

We didn't stain the stairs because they were brand new, treated wood.

And yes, it has been eight (8) years - time flies when you are busy on a farm.

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