Dad wisdom: Do it right the first time

The stain on my deck is peeling. A Google search has revealed many possible mistakes I made when the deck was built.

For example, I did not allow the wood time to season before staining the deck; I used a brand that is a “thin version of paint;” I did not apply the stain with a paintbrush but with a tool I purchased at a “Big Box” store; I applied more than one coat which apparently sits on the surface and eventually peels.

So now I am researching how to prep a deck for re-staining.

We are told that mistakes provide valuable lessons… I agree. Now I have a list of everything to avoid when staining a deck. A quote from one blogger called Genevre sticks in my mind: “Most deck maintenance is not rocket science, but often results in wasted efforts and wasted materials.” Truthfully, I would rather do it right the first time. Actually this concept was taught by my dad who believes there is a “right” way to do something and you should take the time to do it right.

I did try to do it right the first time, but it seems I failed in the research area. Therefore, I am doing a lot of research as I prepare to strip the old stain off the boards and prep them for a new stain.

This experience has made me analyze what is considered sage advice … “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because they are a learning experience.” I think what people are actually saying is don’t be afraid to try new things or take a chance. That makes more sense. The dictionary definition of mistake is “an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.”

Learning is a positive experience. You receive the information or facts on how to do something and then you practice it, going through the steps until you’ve gained mastery. It is a process. To this day I remember zig-zagging across a bunny hill at a ski resort trying to learn to turn. I spent hours pushing myself up off the snow until I mastered the technique. Eventually I made it to the hills with moguls. Obviously I wasn’t turning correctly each time I fell, and some might say I was making mistakes, but basically I was simply learning. My actions were not misguided or wrong — just not perfected.

However the deck … yes, the staining of the deck was misguided. The learning curve in this situation was tight … one chance. It resulted in a job not so well done. So I am gathering information for the repair work. Researching products and technique is well worth the time.

My list includes removing the old stain completely with a deck stain stripper and some sanding if necessary; use of a deck brightener to neutralize the stripper; selection of a stain that is a quality brand and penetrates the wood; and applying one coat with a brush when the thermometer reveals the recommended outdoor temperature.

This time around I am expecting to do the job right.