We are a little late to the backyard-slash-patio redo party for the season, but I’d argue we’re just fashionably late. Here’s why. We don’t have the budget to completely overhaul our deck space like we want to, but we were itching to do something. What did we do? We leveraged “end of season” sales to give our deck a few more years of life. We know we’ll eventually tear it down and put something in it’s place, but we don’t quite know yet what. I would argue NOW (mid-July to August) is really the time to do an outdoor refresh because of all the fabulous opportunities to save. So let’s dive right in. Here’s our deck before the project.
The color was a brown-red with tired looking deck boards. It’s definitely seen better days. Here is how it looked after we tried scrubbing a different area with deck cleaner.
Yikes! Didn’t really make a difference. Our backyard was one of the top reasons we purchased our home, but we knew even before buying that the deck had seen better days. We wanted a peaceful place to sit and enjoy our yard, so the deck needed some serious TLC. There were a few options we saw to fixing our deck dilemma:
- Option A:Tear ‘er down! Erect a new deck.
- Option B: Tear ‘er down! Install a paver patio (We tackled this project at our first home on a smaller scale. We feel fairly confident we could do it again.).
- Option C: Don’t tear ‘er down (yet)! Do some minor damage control, and defer a major deck project for a couple years.
- Option D: Do nothing!!
Though we’ve taken the path of least resistance with the deck so far, Option D was not an option in our mind. So instead, we went with the runner up in the least-impact-to-budget-and-time-required category: Option C. The project seemed daunting at first, but we were lucky enough to enlist the help of my mother-in-law. Without her help & expertise, it would take much longer than a weekend to complete this project. At the end of it all, the project put us back a few hundred dollars and about 25 hours of labor spilt between three people *(with my contribution being the cheerleader, picture taker and children watcher i.e. not a ton of manpower)*.
Ways We Saved Money Using End-of-Season Sales
Here’s the breakdown of all the deals we cashed in on to save money:
- DeckOver Paint: $10 off 1-gal or $40 off 5-gal of paint at Home Depot
- Outdoor Rug: Clearance price at Target end-of-season sale
- New Chair Cushion Covers: 40% off outdoor fabric at Joann Fabrics
- New Outdoor Plants: Clearance price at Home Depot end-of-season sales
These deals totaled a couple hundred dollars in savings. Our timing really worked in our favor here, but I’ll be honest – it was mostly a happy accident. A rainy spring season left us no real opportunity to tackle this before the 4th of July anyway.
Prepping the Deck for Paint
Paint was our cost-effective fix for our tired deck. Sanding down and staining the deck didn’t even enter our list of options because A. the deck was already covered in DeckOver and B. the boards are in pretty poor condition. But the great news is: DeckOver was pretty much MADE for situations like this! So, off we went to prep the boards and cover the existing coat of red-brown DeckOver with a lighter shade of the same product.
The most tedious part of the prep was removing rocks from between the boards. Why were there rocks on the deck? Great question. We have tiny pebble gravel in our fire pit area, and it has slowly migrated to the deck thanks to two creative kiddos. We spent about three hours using a five-in-one tool to scrape all the rocks out. Some of those suckers were really stuck! New house rule: NO rocks allowed on the deck. Ever. The end.
One thing we did NOT do to prep was power wash the deck. If we were staining or applying a first coat of DeckOver, this would have made sense to do. A clean painting surface is always better for reducing bubbles, bulges and cracks. But we already had paint chipping. We wanted to reduce additional paint chipping. Power washing is, well, powerful, and could produce more paint chipping. Also a point against power washing in our case: we were not planning to sand away every chip or even fix the rotting boards before applying the DeckOver.
(Why? Because we know this deck has to go in a few years, and we didn’t want to invest the extra effort on something that will be torn down. Sad face.)
Painting with Peanut Butter
Painting with DeckOver is like painting with peanut butter – slap it on and smooth it out. To make sure everything was coated evenly, we used regular old paint brushes. Ahhh, look at how much better it looks already:
The deck boards took about six hours to paint. The railings took another six hours. The paint dries fairly quickly, and even more so if you paint on a dry, hot day. Here’s how the deck looked once the paint dried. Ta-daaaa!!!
Adding the Finishing Touches
Our eight-year-old patio furniture got a facelift, too, with new cushion and pillow covers. We also installed tiki torches to assist with mosquito control. To keep the tiki torches in place, we used a special drill bit to drill holes into the railing. I’m not sure how many mosquitos they will control, but they sure do look cool at night!
Another view we haven’t shown yet is where the deck meets the grass. We have a beautiful mature tree in the middle of our yard. We love it. It’s canopy shades almost our entire yard during the day, which is awesome for the kiddos. However, it sits close to the deck and doesn’t really allow grass to grow very well. Here’s what I mean:
Rather than leaving this to harvest mud pits with each rainfall, we opted to cover as much of the dirt as possible with planter boxes an an additional step. I’ll admit, it’s a little tricky deciding what to plant in the new boxes each year. But it definitely beats the mudpit!
Do you have a shady spot in your yard? How do you cover over the dirt and make it look pretty? Tell me in the comments!