Day two of staining the porch railings on our new modular home, and it is coming along. After two full days of work, with the stain scented wind in my hair, and bees around my ankles, I think I have finally cracked the code to painting quickly and efficiently.
I had to cover the composite decking, because I do not want to have to deal with cleaning stain droplets off of the deck floor. So I bought 4 large plastic sheets from Home Depot, which set me back all of $4. I taped the plastic down and got to work.
Not so fast! It was windy and the plastic was paper thin. You can probably imagine the wind blew the flimsy plastic, slapping it into the wet stain, and then wrapping it around my bare calves, thus staining my legs. Not what I call a good look for summer. And not my finest hour.
To add insult to injury, I inevitably dripped stain on the plastic, and managed to step in it every time. Then worried about tracking it around and had to constantly check the bottom of my flip-flop. This clearly wasn't gonna work.
So I rummaged around in the basement and found a large piece of cloth. My first thought was the stain will bleed right though it to the flooring. Despite my worry, I folded the cloth into a 3 ft long square and placed it under the railing where I was working, moving it as I went. This worked much better. It was heavy enough that it didn't blow in the wind, and there were not wet drip marks to step in!
So, my advice is: save yourself $4. Wahoo! Just enough for a RedBull! (I hate them, but you're gonna need one!)
Regardless of your drop cloth, staining is sloooow going. If you have wooden balusters and they're turned, as opposed to smooth, I feel for you! Here's my advice: choose smooth balusters if you're going to end up staining them. Better yet, choose plastic so you don't have to stain them at all! Only joking! But for two days I can tell you I was thinking "Curse choosing the turned spindles!", only the version in my head had some more colorful words in it...
Here's what I advise for staining, provided you have turned balusters:
The porch posts are the easy part. The surface is larger and smoother. The porch posts or columns extend from the porch ceiling to the floor of the porch and support the porch roof. To stain the porch posts I used a 2" foam brush. This seemed to work well, and foam brushes are so cheap you can use as many as you need.
The turned balusters are a serious snore-fest to stain. Balusters are usually 36 inches tall and are offered in different widths and styles. We have a turned baluster, which means more nooks and crannies than an English muffin, to paint in. Balusters are placed between top railings and the bottom rail and are usually spaced 4 inches apart. What that means is: even if you have a small porch, you'll still LOTS off balusters to stain! *Caution: May cause marked drowsiness and irritability.
So, the posts go pretty quickly. But if you get stuck, I mean, volunteer to stain the balusters, like I did, here's the fastest way I found to get it done:
Start by using a 1" foam brush. Get the brush wet in the stain, but not dripping wet. Squish it into all of the nooks in the turns first. Don't worry if it's a little thick, you can even it out after.
Then slather the stain from the top down, like you're slathering on BBQ sauce, and even out any drips. Just make sure you get a good cover. But within reason...
It's really easy to be a perfectionist and get caught up in going over every little tiny weeny crack and bump on the wood. Don't bother! Just put the stain on fairly thick, even it out and keep moving. I did an experiment and stained several of the balustrads really, really carefully, and a couple the fast, efficient way. Guess what? Can't tell the difference when they're dry!
Well that's it for staining the porch railings. And one thing off my "to do list". Only 19 to go!