#82: The Downside of Outdoor Living

#82: The Downside of Outdoor Living

One of the nicest features of my house is the large deck in the backyard. When I moved in though, the deck walls were weird- 6 feet tall and painted white on both sides. I don’t even want to know what happened back there that required so much privacy!

One of my biggest projects after moving in was making the deck look more deck-like. I would stare at it a lot and sigh, trying to formulate a plan. Eventually, I had the walls shortened, railings added, and the whole thing repainted with colors of my choosing. My mom generously paid for the work to be done, and we could not have been more thrilled with the results.

I began buying deck furniture and stalking Craigslist for grills, preparing for spring. But you know what comes before spring? Fall and winter; seasons that were not kind to my deck. First, a tree fell on it. Then, as if in protest for their fallen brother, the remaining trees dropped all of their many, many, many leaves on it. I tried to keep it swept off, but eventually a leaf carpet was established. Leaf carpet + cold, wet weather + painted surfaces = no bueno.

So spring came, and the deck needed painting, again. I would just look out the window at it and sigh. I needed major work done elsewhere on the house, and so much square footage needing touching up due to repairs that it made sense to paint the whole thing. I was delighted to learn that the deck was included in the paint quote. It looked awesome once again.

So summer came, and I bought a lounge cushion and a grill. Deck perfection, right? Except, the weather was the opposite of perfection. For several months it rained, and rained, and rained some more. It was insane, all the rain. You might remember, wet weather + painted surfaces = no bueno. There was mold and mildew growing on the floor boards. Again, I would just look out the window at it and sigh.

Apparently I need some kind of cleaning regimen. I begin to research pressure washers in exhausting detail. Buy, borrow, or rent? Gas or electric? Which PSI will clean the surface without stripping the paint? There are cleaning solutions specifically made for decks, but I learned most of them aren’t formulated for painted surfaces. I fell into a Google wormhole of conflicting advice, and floundered there for weeks.

One day I arrived home to find a contractor thumbtacking his business card to my mailbox. Removing these things has become an almost daily annoyance since moving into the neighborhood, but I saw these key words on the card: DECK RESTORATION. I asked if he pressure washed, he said yes and quoted a reasonable price. I might have frightened him with how quickly I exclaimed, “YES! PLEASE WASH MY DECK!” Perhaps he picked up on my unspoken yet deeply heartfelt message, “PLEASE SAVE ME FROM THE GOOGLE WORMHOLE OF CONFUSION AND INDECISION.” A total stranger with a thumbtack seemed like the answer to my prayers.

The contractor did a great job cleaning the deck without removing too much of the paint. But still, some of it did come up with the mildew and mold. My generous Mom and I paid to have the deck professionally painted twice in two years, but I decided I’m not doing it again for year three. I’m just not. It’s prepped already; I’ll paint it myself. It just needs a little touch up! No problem!

Whenever people tell me, “No problem!” it seems there is almost always, actually, a problem. This is never truer than when I’m saying “No problem!” to myself.

  • I thought I had enough paint left over from the other two paint jobs. I was, of course, mistaken.
  • The paint came from a particular paint store that closed thirty minutes before I discovered the can was almost empty.
  • The color number on top of the can bore no relation at all to the color of paint inside. It took the “Sure, we can match it!” paint guy at Home Depot three tries to get even close.
  • I was certain one gallon would be more than enough. I was almost right.
  • I broke the extender for the roller and had to finish the last 20% hunched over like a crone.
  • I saw an unpainted spot in the middle after I had finished. I tiptoed over and back, using the last few precious drops of paint to cover my footprints. Turns out, wet paint is pretty slippery to walk on. I probably entertained my neighbors more than once with the windmill motions I used to remain vertical.

But. The deck, she is painted. I’m still not sure what my maintenance regimen should be. But for at least a month or so, no more looking out the window and sighing!

I’ll take what I can get.

“It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.” –Steven Wright

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