Before & After: Black Slate Stain Deck & Repair

Although it's really nice to see outdoor living spaces, including pretty patios and decorated decks, all set for Summertime enjoyment, sometimes these outdoor spaces are in need of repairs, cleaning, and even a fresh coat of stain. One of the tasks the home inspector included before we purchased this home last November, was to inspect the structural integrity of our two-story deck (Also see: 5 Deck Safety Tips). Attached to the house with weather-proof flashing and bolts, we were structurally sound. But after winter, we began to notice some changes happening to the wood. The deck is 10 years old, it never really had a true coat of sealer or stain, and it definitely wasn't well maintained, so before we could enjoy outdoor living in this new (to us) space, we needed to have the deck repaired and stained - with a color preferably more cohesive to the home's front exterior.

Deck repair and staining is not a DIY project we chose to take on ourselves. Instead, we met with three area deck specialist to work on the deck repairs and stain our two-story deck. The professional  we opted for (locally owned & operated + licensed & insured) asked us to select a color from Sherwin Williams Super-Deck. Since I had already created the space plans and an appointment was scheduled for work, the next three phases of the deck were: 1. Choosing the deck color, 2. Clearing the space, and 3. Deck repairs + staining.


Choosing Deck Color
Practically nothing creates a great impact and costs less to update a space, inside or out, than paint, or in this case: outdoor solid stain. Just as I do inside, I color tested swatches of 3 color options - on various surfaces (floorboards, column, railing). Although Sherwin-Williams had a color called Charcoal, it just wasn't crisp enough. Thankfully, Sherwin Williams was able to do a color match of a color we really liked from Behr called Slate. Slate is a great blue-base off-black shade, which just as greys and whites do, changes its value (color intensity) depending on time of day, shade direct sunlight and diffused light...

Tip: Easy to carry for testing: Repurposed cookie sheet as paint tray.

Note: color test of solid stain is actually paint, which can vary the actual color slightly vs. the actual solid stain - but it's close!

I've seen where people have done a full value chart of shades and tones of one color (usually when picking their perfect grey), but colors change with different light sources, furniture reflections, and times of day -- especially outdoors. Save yourself the heartache and select 2 or 3 colors, have them mixed as a tester, and paint squares in different areas of what is being stained. Watch how these three colors alter their shade with different lighting -- especially direct sun or shade, when selecting outdoor deck stain.

Left: SWSD Black Alder -- Center: Behr Deck Stain: Slate (SW color-match) -- Right: SWSD Charcoal
(Left: too brown -- Right: too battleship -- Center: just right!)

Friday afternoon, I selected two Super-Deck solid stain colors to give them a try (Charcoal and Black Alder (actually more brown than name implies) plus I brought in the color card from Behr for SW to match for deck color choice testing. Saturday morning I was out on the deck painting swatches, snapped a few pics, and walked with Jeff in the late afternoon & evening for us to see the colors plus make our selection.

One good thing left behind from the previous owners: A stainless steel counter, Jeff anchored to the deck for his grilling space.

The slate color really helps to anchor the back of the house, and works well with the existing grill,  matte black wicker chairs plus the glorious green backdrop of the property now for Spring / Summer - which I'm sure will also work with the grey-browns in the winter.

After the color choice was officially made Saturday, the color info was texted to the deck team. Sunday was time to clear the deck space of furniture, pillows, and plants...

Clearing the Space
Just as with an interior space, an outdoor space too needs to be cleared off before repairs and pressuring cleaning can begin. In a perfect world, the deck would have been repaired and stained earlier in the Spring - before it was filled with furniture and new plants - but that's now how this worked out - and it's OK. The Sunday before the deck team were to arrive (Monday morning) I cleared off the deck space, having first made a plan as to where to "stage" everything being removed. What I was probably most concerned about were the plants.

 Plants acquired during Spring - most from a local nursery closing!
Shifting plants to a temporary space requires a little more care than stacking pillows & chairs in a shed. Since these plants were already accustomed to living (and thriving) in shade, the space they moved to needed to be pretty much the same. Since there was an old wood platform nestled in the trees down our backyard slope, Jeff suggested they'd be safe there (Good idea! Love that man!) Before I brought them down to their temporary space, I gave them a lil' TLC, extra water - and yes: I talked to them. Go figure: when I brought them back to the deck 4 days later, they were even a bit larger than they were when I brought them down!

 Proud thrift score in High Point - during market week! Perfect for southern living on the lower deck -- or back porch!

The white wicker set (a Carolina thrift score!!) worked staged in the yard, near the rock garden. Other small accents, pillows and the chaise went into the shed, 4 new outdoor chairs (from Pier 1 for the new dining table) came inside, down to the spare room in the basement. Most of what I cleared was downstairs. Whatever was upstairs, I left for the deck guys to take down - one of which was a new X-leg dining table I got from Home Depot - I was able to refinish before Jeff brought it back up onto the refinished deck. As for the grill, Jeff and I just wheeled into the house (not pretty, but practical!)

Deck Repairs + Staining
Before the deck could be stained, it was in need of some repairs: carpenter bees (nests removed and wholes filled in), stair railing, balustrade railing, and floor boards. Jeff was able to get rid of the carpenter bees and repair their damage. The carpenters replaced damaged deck wood and hauled away removed damaged wood. After these repairs, the deck got a good pressure washing to remove debris, some old paint, and much of the mildew. Since both of these tasks were done Monday  morning, the deck had a good dose of sun for the afternoon to dry well before staining the next day.

 Deck repairs - Upper deck floor boards.

 Of all days for wind gusts - but still a clean end result!

Notice how the tone of the color changed with overcast, mid-day light!

Before & After deck railing & balustrade repair.

Although it was a team of three rapidly working on staining the deck - upper balustrade by brush & underside + lattice sprayed on - floors & stairs rolled), summer heat, and sun glare created a few 'ghosts' (just as what can happen with inside painting). This caused two tradesmen to come back an additional day (just the morning) for touch-ups . Most of the glare & ghost touch-ups were needed at the stairs -- because the black slate was a similar color value to the existing half-ass dark brown stain, which was difficult to see in the suns bright light.

Deck Repairs + Low pressure Washing + Staining by:
Wittmann Home Renewal 
Kernersville, NC
(336) 996-0460

- Plan outdoor spaces / zones / decor (see my planning boards here)
- Tend to minor repairs yourself (purging junk / removing nests)
- Inspected for structural integrity decks 10 years of age -- and check every 3 years afterwards
- Hire a professional for repairs (& larger staining projects) 
- Interview 3 candidates for the job - with your partner
- Ensure estimate + scope of work in writing (including debris haul-away)
- Test 3 colors within the outdoor area
- Communicate with HOA (changes), with partner (design goal), with hired team (expectations)
- Although team will unload deck space, personally give extra care to outdoor plants temporary storage
- After deck is repaired, power-wash and let dry well in sun before staining
- With shoes on, double check lower deck + grass for missed nails & wood-chips
- After deck stained, let it cure for 24 hrs (will be dry to touch, but avoid wetting or walking on + do not put back any plants or furniture)
- Reset deck decor
Enjoy your refreshed outdoor living space with coffee, friends, family - and neighbors!

Sneak Peek 
Refreshed Deck Decor - with secondhand style + a few new finds from HomeGoods!
(outdoor pillows + stripe mugs!)

Now that the deck is finally repaired and stained, it was time to have some fun putting it together for a multi-level outdoor living space! The repairs (for safety & longer deck life) plus a new color (for exterior cohesiveness & updated look) is just what this outdoor space needed to be renewed... for relaxing, for entertaining, and to give the neighbors something a little more pleasing to look at VS. the run-down deck littered with car parts it was when we moved in! 

(Cue the music: "Isn't she lovely?!")
 ick. You've come a long way baby!! THRILLED to pieces this outdoor space is cleaned & clear!

Deck Decor details coming up next!
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. You are amazing, Lynda! It is beautiful!

  2. It looks wonderful and all the hard work is showing brilliantly.

  3. Wow – the transformation is stunning. I'll be staining my deck and pergola prior to selling this fall, and I usually go for the pale neutral... But your post changed all that. It's definitely a high end look (and that's what I need!) This opens up a whole new palette of possibilities – thank you!!!

  4. Great insight on the deck work that needed to be done and up keep there after. Wonderful color choice and love the door at the top of the stairs and great slender table along the deck for drinks and food.

  5. I stumbled upon this blog while looking for ideas to decorate my rental apartment. Although I'm not much of a designer, the author makes decorating easy to follow with her tips in the Rental ReSTYLE section. I have since been able to fix my small space styling issues and my friends can not stop commenting on my new look!

    Max Hall @ Schafer Construction Inc.

  6. What is the name of the color of stain or did they just match it to your swatch?



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