Sometimes saving money is all about taking care of what you have. Actually a lot of times it’s about taking care of what you already have. Sure, that might not seem as sexy as getting a screaming deal on something, or creating some awesome project–but making sure the things you have already spent money on last as long as possible (so you don’t have to spend money replacing them) really is the heart of frugal common sense.
That is the case with staining our deck. Several years ago (*cough* *five* *cough*) my handy husband added on to our deck taking it from a small rectangular platform that barely fit the grill and was rarely used into the main attraction of our backyard. He drew up the plans, bought the materials (using our military/veteran discount of 10% at Lowes), and built the entire thing with some help from my brother and his best friend. Since that included digging post holes for the pilings in our rocky bedrock soil, it was quite a job. Finally finished, they had to let the pressure treated lumber has to off-gas for a year. Or two. Or five.
After all those winters of snow, springs and summer of rains, it was pretty imperative that this summer it get stained to avoid the wood becoming damaged.
Of course staining cost us some money–stain isn’t cheap. It is however worthwhile to get it done so that the deck will (hopefully) last decades. There are some ways to save a bit of money in the process.
Use what you already have.
On a project like this you can go through a lot of painters tape, paint brushes, rollers, and tarps. We have quite a selection of brushes and roller handles and rollers we’ve collected over the years as well as plenty of paint stained tarps. By going through the basement and garage we were able to collect up almost all of what we needed equipment wise for the project. We did need to purchase a couple of roller heads and one decent edging brush, but that was it.
Borrow what you don’t have.
Before applying the opaque stain, you really need to be sure your deck is clean. The best way to do that is with a pressure washer. Sure, you could buy one for $150-$200, or you could even rent one for about $50 a day. . . but most likely you can borrow one for free. Our good friends own a pressure washer, and after a quick phone call it was ours to borrow for a couple of days. Don’t know of a friend who has one? Try asking on Facebook, or mentioning to a few friends what you are looking to borrow.
Make what you have last through the project.
It’s just common sense to make what you’ve got last through the length of your project so you don’t have to replace it mid stream. Stain can be nasty, goopy stuff–hard to clean off brushes and gluing them together into unusable cement if allowed to dry in a brush or roller. Yankee Bill used the old tip of wrapping wet brushes in a couple of layers of plastic bags and placing them in the refrigerator when he had to take a significant break from staining. Everything also was wrapped and placed in the fridge overnight while we waited for the deck to dry before touching up “missed” spots.
Don’t forget to use a project like this as a learning experience. One of my big goals as a frugal mom is not only to save money so that my family can live a good life within our means, but also to instill those same values in my children so that THEY will continue to live a good life within their means after they are grown and out of the house.
Part of that process is including them in projects like this.
Sure, part of it is that it’s nice to have help with the physical labor. Even more important though is the lessons it teaches our kids:
- You are part of this family, and the family works together on accomplishing things.
- You may be just a kid, but you can contribute meaningfully and take pride in the fact that what you do is important and helps the family.
- It is important to take care of and maintain the things you have.
- Attention to detail and doing a job fully and correctly is important.
- How to paint. Because at some point everyone has to paint something!
In this post I may be talking about staining a deck, but there are so many other projects around the house that can be attacked in a similar manner. I’m sure you can think of several!
I’m quite happy with my newly stained deck. The kids survived the process of helping (they even did 99% of the touch up work unsupervised!). Yankee Bill is pleased as punch to have it all done.
Now about that barn that still needs to be painted. . .