Jul 17, 2013

Building a Pergola: Stain

When we chose to build a wooden pergola over the patio, we knew we wanted to have it match the dark brown deck stain for a cohesive look.

The dark brown stained patio furniture and deck
While putting together our step-by-step game plan we realized that staining the entire pergola after it’s built, up on a ladder, was going to be a pain. So instead we decided that we should actually stain all of the pieces before we began, and do touch ups once it was built. Yes we would waste some stain and effort on the parts we trim off (all of the pergola instructions call for cutting-as-you go), but I figured we would save time and work in the long run not needing to climb up and down the ladder a million times.

From left to right: two coats of stain, 1 coat of stain, no stain.
Pre-staining everything was time consuming and an ongoing process. 24 pieces of lumber brought home, 12 feet long, 4 sides, 2 coats. It’s A LOT of staining to do. A lot. And of course we kicked off this project during a massive heat wave (just like patio) with crazy humidity and thunderstorms. You can’t get anything wet for 24 hours after staining so it was very tricky. And you can’t stain when the temperatures climb over 90, which was pretty much every day (and really why would you want to in that kind of heat anyways?). There were a lot of speed bumps. Plus staining is pretty boring.

A close-up of the color difference between 1 and 2 coats 
I started with the 4x4 posts and the 2x6 pieces that would be the main supports of the structure, since those were going up first. I propped the pieces up on old pavers so I could get the sides easier. Then I moved onto the 11 pieces of 2'x4'x12’ that had to be stained as the cross beams. 5 of the 2x4s actually had to be split lengthwise into 2 to become 2x2s, so that created 10 more pieces, 12 feet long, 4 sides, 2 coats. It’s taking forever. As long as it’s stained before we need it, I consider it a success. It’s not easy to do a big project with a toddler. We can only work on it for small snippets of time. When the weather cooperates. A little bit here and there is better than nothing!

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