The Porch Floor Gets Stained!

We’re one step closer to front porch completion (this season anyway)! Our porch is stained!


Staining our deck ended up turning into a thing, as most projects (big or small) tend to do with us. (Truly, we drive ourselves crazy sometimes.) Initially, we planned to use a product such as Behr’s Deckover or Rustoleum Restore, both of which provide a gritty non-slip texture to the porch and go on very, very thick. As we delved into that realm, a lot of negative reviews turned up pretty quickly, and even the sales associates at the various hardware stores weren’t convinced of their durability.

So back to the drawing board we went, and after sifting through way too many reviews on the merits of paint vs. stain – then ultimately turning to you for help (you guys rock) – we nixed the idea of porch paint and went with an opaque stain. The best of both worlds! Since our deck had never been stained or painted, we were lucky enough to make the ultimate decision without the burden of stripping the previous owner’s choice. After a looot of research, we landed on Deckscapes opaque exterior stain by Sherwin Williams in Gray Birch.


The biggest thing we read up on while scouring the web for this vs. that was the importance of prep work. Of course this is the case for most any DIY project (and sometimes it’s the longest part of any project!), and staining our deck was no different. Although we pressure washed it early this season, Scott picked up a jar of Deck Brite at Ace to go that extra mile. It claims to be just the thing for pre-staining your porch floors, as it will remove any mill glaze, mildew or algae that happens over time, and while our deck was pretty clean an in the first place (again, from the initial pressure washing), we were impressed with this stuff! (And nope, this isn’t product placement in any way.)

To use, we scooped a small amount in a big bucket of water, mixed for a few minutes until the blue solution turned clear, then used a pressure washer at a lower speed to rinse it off. (Bonus: We liked that it was non-toxic and super safe for our newly planted garden!) Coming in at $25, it’s a little more expensive than other deck cleaners, but it was well worth it. Not to mention, we have so much left over, so… back deck? Here’s looking at you! (One day!)


We allowed our porch to dry out overnight, and late the next day, we got to staining! I cut in around all the porch support beams and worked my way down to the aprons, and Scott took the reigns on rolling. He used  a 1/2″ nap roller for semi-rough surfaces, allowing him to get into all the nooks of our tongue and groove flooring. It went on opaque like paint, but more watery in texture – although not too watery. We didn’t notice any huge issues with drips, but we were careful as we went along.


It only took about 45 minutes to get one entire coat done, after which we toasted a beer, marveled at omg, what a difference! it made, and then we continued with a second coat. All in all, we used one and a half gallons for about 150 square feet of porch floor. Everything felt super dry the next day, but we’re waiting until this weekend to start loading things back onto the porch for the season – and we cannot wait!

Here’s where we started after our Deck Brite scrub down:


And now? Gray Birch! Stained!


While we love the color, our complaint is that we were hoping for a warmer gray, but it looks more blue than the swatch in the store and not quite as dark (so if you’re going that route, perhaps go a step darker than you think you’d like?). Regardless, we are loving the look! I even tried to scrape up a corner with my fingernail – just to see! – and there was no chipping. As for the long term durability, well, we’ll have to live another Chicago winter to know for sure!

Our front porch has come a long, long way since the start of the season – including all that grass! There are still some very small patchy areas that we’ll need to reseed to get that perfect, blanketed look, but it came up quickly and bright.


We do have some rough boards at the top of our stairs which we’ll likely need to replace – and to be honest, Scott was eager to replace them before we stained. Unfortunately, we’ve had a string of stormy weeks and we wanted to jump on the project for our first 2 sunny days in a row, leaving us little time to start pulling up boards, laying down new and then staining. No matter; just because we’ve stained now doesn’t mean we can’t go back and replace those boards when time permits! (And honestly, I may have been a smidge impatient, claiming that the heavily grooved boards didn’t bother me at all! While that’s true, we will need to replace them – someday.)


You’ll notice that we’ve yet to paint our new front stairs. I did the water test on them last week (if the water beads up, they’re not ready to be coated), and they’re still a month (or two? Or three?) out from being ready for paint and stain. Once they are, the stair treads will get the same Deckscapes stain, and the risers and railing will get the Valspar treatment.


For now, we have a few more plants we’d like to add to by the front door (if it’ll fit), an outdoor rug to lay and a cozy nook to set up. Weekend, get here!

PS… It’s the last day of our $100 Ace Gift card giveaway! Have you entered?

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  • lsaspacey7.11.14 - 8:36 AM

    Looking great! Love the last shot with puppy nose and puppy feet! By the way, is Jack a pit/boxer mix? He looks so much like my fav puppy Cass and I’m curious to her make-up.ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.11.14 - 9:51 AM

      Thank you! Jack is a pit mixed with Irish Setter of all things! We found out when we did one of those doggie DNA tests (we picked it up on Amazon, and I gave it to Scott for Christmas the year we adopted our little ham).ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square7.11.14 - 9:18 AM

    What a cool idea for a porch – opaque stain! We have a small deck in the back of our house that is in desperate need of attention, but we’ll probably tackle it next summer. The wood planks are generally okay but haven’t been well-protected, so they need a bit of love. What condition were your wood planks in before you cleaned/stained them? Any rotting or warping?ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.11.14 - 9:42 AM

      They were… Okay, I guess? The front patio, according to the house’s seller, is new within the last 10-15 years. They had never been treated (or in our opinion, properly cared for) in that time. So they were a little gray, worn down and had mildew spots. We cannot recommend the DeckBrite enough! When paired with the pressure washer, the difference was insane.ReplyCancel

  • Fiona7.11.14 - 9:43 AM

    Looks great! Are you planning on painting the exterior of the front door? I’m curious because I’m thinking of buying the same door and want to know how it takes paint.ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.11.14 - 9:50 AM

      If the weather holds out, we’ll be doing it this weekend! The door we bought specifically says to use an “adhesion promotor,” which we already picked up. If all goes well, we’ll have an update next week!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea7.11.14 - 11:16 AM

    SO GOOD!!!! It looks awesome, very crisp and fresh… and love the garden too!!ReplyCancel

  • Marie7.11.14 - 11:49 AM

    Congrats on all the good outside work, the swing – and the ceiling surgery as well, and that awesome gray stain on the porch ! I love it. Have a nice week-end (without rain).ReplyCancel

  • I really like the look of the painted/stained deck. I think it makes it looks really cozy and modern.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Chilcott7.13.14 - 6:24 PM

    Well done, it looks wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • […] concrete and painted the front porch, but before we built our garden, gave the front door a color, stained the deck and built our porch swing. I list all these things for a couple reasons – for one, we often […]ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah Kohmescher6.5.16 - 9:14 PM

    Hi – never commented before but followed you forever. We are also in an old Chicago wood frame house. Just wondering if you had an update on the SW opaque stain now that it has been through 2 winters? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.6.16 - 9:19 AM

      Hi Rebekah! Scott and I were just talking about this over the weekend. So far, it’s been doing GREAT, and I think a lot of that has to do with the prep work. There are a few things to mention though:

      We wish we would have chosen a slightly darker color, since it shows dirt pretty easily
      We have a rug, so the main seating area is perfect and scratch free… STILL.
      The only area with wear are the front steps! We’ll need to touch those up along the treads

      In a nutshell, we couldn’t be happier with the quality of the stain and how well it’s held up. Let us know if you have any other questions!ReplyCancel

  • Marlene Breaden12.2.16 - 9:47 AM

    Stained our composite deck. Yellowish segment appears when deck wet…seems to disappear when dry. Any Thoughts? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.2.16 - 10:06 AM

      Hi Marlene! We don’t have any experience with a composite deck, but it sounds like maybe some mildew mixing with rain water?ReplyCancel

  • Rachael6.3.20 - 4:48 PM

    I came across your blog AFTER we painted our deck with the Gray Birch. I wish I would have read this beforehand. It is so surprising how different the color comes out from the swatch. We hired a painter so the deed had been done and it is so much brighter than we hoped and planned for, it almost hurts your eyes. I was wondering if the paint store made a mistake with mixing. It’s nice to hear it’s held up as far as quality though ReplyCancel


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