Backyard Fence Project

Ok- only three weeks left till my pool is resurfaced. The pool is the reason why we’ve gone all cray with other DIY projects in the back yard. Can’t have a beautiful new pool with an ugly backyard!

The pool deck is done. The patio is done. Fire pit, planters, patio table: ready to go. Ugly worn out graying fence…..ugh.

My fence was replaced about 10 years ago. I know nothing about fences, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t sealed or stained. Now it is graying, dingy, and looks like it belongs at the Addam’s family residence.

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Of course, I hit Google and YouTube to figure out my options. Painting? Staining? Replace?

Replacing was not an option- already have a huge pool project on the financial books. So, I decided to pressure wash first, then decide what to either paint or stain.

Pressure washing was a huge P.I.T.A. I got through about 3 fence panels before I realized I wasn’t standing close enough to it, so I had to move in closer and start over. Pressure washing isn’t really washing- it strips the outer layer of dingy, dry, damaged wood, leaving the nice natural wood color.


Fence 1
It was not fun.


My Ryobi pressure washer (around $100 at Home Depot) came with a 15 degree tip, which was recommended for pressure washing fences and decks. I used that for the whole project, then later found I didn’t need to. A 25 degree works better and covers more area, but the 15 degree works better for tough to remove grit and grime. Ah well, what’s done is done (although it took longer). Tip: wear a hat and old clothes. The tutorials I saw warned against getting wet, but there was nothing I came across that warned of being pelted with soggy wood particles.

Power washing is very tedious work, and your hand and arm can get tired. I saw a tutorial where a guy stuffed a tennis ball in between the handle and trigger of the washer, which I thought was a great idea. However, since my chew- happy dog can’t keep a tennis ball for more than a day, I had to improvise:


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Thanks, ‘Mater!



Finally, finished power washing the whole backyard fence- after 2 days.


Then we got stuck deciding on a color and finish. We actually really liked this lighter, natural wood color, but wanted to do something a little different. I LOVE the look of black-stained fences- it makes any greenery pop, and I thought it would make the pool color pop as well. However, we decided against it because 1) we thought it would make the yard look smaller and 2) we get direct sun almost the entire day in the backyard- it would be way too hot.

Then we considered a basic brown, but then thought that would be too boring. So we settled on Behr’s Semi-Transparent Wood Stain and Sealer in Redwood.


Image result for behr wood stain and sealer redwood

And so, we painted on the stain. I tried to give our garden sprayer a second chance (see the previously reported debacle in my Patio Refinishing Project), which again, didn’t work. The tutorials I’d seen recommended spraying on over a small 3 foot-or-so area and then back rolling with a roller or pad, so thankfully we had pads and brushes! The stain is thin, and a little goes a long way (depending on the wood). Some areas actually sucked up more stain, but overall it went pretty smoothly and lightly. The pad worked the best. Tip: be sure to use a tarp to cover greenery at the fence line, or use a hoe to pull rock or bark away from the fence line.

Along the way, my hubby and I named the long, straight, uninterrupted panel of the good neighbor fence the “good side”, and the other panels of the good neighbor fence (with the cross beams) the “crappy side”. We used the pads for any long, straight boards and brushes for shorter boards. We used a 2 inch brush to paint the sides of any boards that stuck out (hey- my fence is over 10 years old- some parts look like a row of crooked teeth).  Tip: The painting was exciting and fun at first- until we got to the crappy side of the good-neighbor fence for the first time. Applying the stain to the very bottom was difficult. Use a smaller brush and knee pads! Use pads for the cross beams.

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Fighting with the palm



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It took us about a week to get the entire backyard fence painted- we worked several days during the week after work as well. It was hot though, so we took lots of water breaks.

And the final look!

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Before and after!


I’ve already started on the front yard fence too…..

Past Project- Kitchen Cabinets

When I moved in to my house in 2005, I loved the kitchen layout. But I hated the décor. It had hideous dark blue floral wallpaper that was a huge fiasco to remove, soffit- type lighting (still there- working on getting rid of it), and dark, DARK cabinets. The kitchen itself is small, so the dark colors didn’t help.

It wasn’t until 2015 that I decided I couldn’t live with the dark cabinets anymore. It was me or them. I googled various way to resurface cabinets, but had a heck of a time with a past cabinet project in which I had to sand them all. I wanted to find a way to resurface without sanding. Sanding wouldn’t be so bad, but my cabinets have tiny grooves in them that made it nearly impossible to penetrate with an electric sander or hand- held sandpaper. Plus I lacked the upper body strength to sand an ENTIRE KITCHEN!

I considered chalk paint but was turned off by the waxing part of it for some reason. Chalk paint can be applied right over clean surfaces- no sanding! Again, I think the I was turned off by the waxing because of those dang tiny grooves- I don’t know, but I did come across a product at Home Depot- Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations. It can be tinted to various colors, and they have a light base and dark base depending on your color preference.

Rustoleum Cabs


Rustoleum Cabs 2Rustoleum cabs 4

I watched the instructional video on YouTube, and decided…I can do this! Basically you clean and degrease all surfaces, let dry, paint, let dry, apply glaze (if desired), let dry, then apply the protective top coat. The kit comes with a DVD, the cleaner/ degreaser, paint (you can tint to whichever color you choose), glaze, top coat, application cloths, green scrubbies, gloves, and paint stirrers. Tip: buy extra green scrubbies if you have a big project. Rustoleum Cabs 3

I highly, HIGHLY recommend sketching a map of your kitchen/ project area to include each and every cabinet door, drawer, and cabinet. It’s been almost 2 years, and I still remember I had twenty-six items. I numbered them starting at the left of my kitchen and moving clock-wise on. Each number on my sketch corresponded to a cabinet or drawer. I removed the cabinetry and drawers as I went along 1) to prevent confusion and 2) due to space constraints. Each set of cabinetry I removed, I numbered with post-it notes. I numbered the same corresponding hinges  (since I decided to keep the same ones)  and placed a post-it with the number along with the hinges in Ziploc bags.

I basically had two workshops going- the kitchen (cabinet bases) and the garage (cabinet doors and drawers). In the garage, I set up sawhorses with long pieces of plywood as a work surface, and placed the cabinet doors and drawers on them. In the kitchen, I tried to maintain some semblance of normalcy by trying to work in small areas so we could still use the kitchen.

First, I set to work cleaning and degreasing. Wear gloves for this part. I cannot stress this enough- this step is the most critical part of the process. The surface must be thoroughly cleaned and degreased not only to be clean and degreased, but to dull/ remove the existing glaze on the old cabinetry. This will allow the paint to stick. So, be liberal with the degreaser, and scrub your heart out. Then scrub again. Be sure to get into each nook and cranny. For the cabinet units in the kitchen, take special care (and extra elbow grease!) around the stove area. For some reason I had grease all the way up the cabinets to the ceiling!

After scrubbing, take a damp towel and wipe clean. If you see any suds or bubbles, keep wiping with the damp towel until clean. Then flip over the cabinet and do the other side.

Since space was an issue, I put the post-it notes with the cabinet’s number on the wall in the garage and propped up the  corresponding cleaned cabinet door beneath it. Then I got started on a new set. Then I worked in the kitchen, degreasing and cleaning the cabinet units (is that what they’re called??). Hubby did not help with this project as he was on Keep Kids Away From Project duty. It would definitely help to have two or more working on this project though.

After letting it dry for the recommended amount of time, I got started painting. I first applied painter’s tape on the insides of the cabinets (I did not bother painting the insides), on the floor, walls, and ceiling around the cabinets. Since I was lazy, I didn’t remove everything from the cabinets unless the stuff extended over the paint tape line.

We had the paint tinted to “Linen”, which is a cream-color. I used a paint brush for the painting, rollers are not recommended. Like I mentioned, I have tiny grooves in my cabinets, so I would apply the paint lightly around the grooves to prevent pooling.

The painting was pretty straightforward. I went on cleanly and covered the dark wood beautifully. Just for my own added comfort, I applied 2 coats to every surface. I was about 4-5 days into the project by this point, mainly because of the recommended drying times.

Next came the decorative glaze. I decided to use the glaze to give the cabinets some dimension. It’s a dark glaze that you paint on, then wipe off using the provided cloths. This creates a wood-grain look. Tip: buy extra cloths. I had trouble finding similar ones, but a close match would be first aid gauze. I must have looked suspicious in Walgreen’s buying boxes and boxes of gauze!

You can adjust the look by the amount of glaze you remove- I removed quite a bit, to give a faint hint of depth. Because my cabinet faces have ridges and nooks, more of the glaze got stuck in there- but it gave it a nice “rustic”, country look. Tip: Apply the glaze to the back side of a cabinet first, to decide on the look you want. Then use it to match the cabinet units in the kitchen to ensure a uniform color. Throughout the project, take a step back and make sure the glaze matches. Honestly, after a while, it all blurs together. Consider getting a less exhausted pair of eyes! Another tip: make sure the cabinetry is COMPLETELY dry after painting- if not, when you use the rag to remove the glaze, you can remove the paint. This happened to me, and I had to paint over the spot, let dry again, and apply the glaze to try to match the surrounding surface. I had a hard time getting it to match 100%, but it’s ok- by garbage can is currently hiding it!

Then let dry. This was about day 6-7 of the project.

Then comes the protective top coat. Be careful with this step. You paint it on with a brush- watch for drips. It dries quickly so if it drips, you need to start over from the beginning. Unless you can live with the drip. The good news is that you can see where you have applied the top coat, so you can apply very lightly to help prevent drips. I have those dang ridges to contend with, so I used a foam brush to dab in corners, nook, and crannies. Worked beautifully.

Now the fun part- putting everything back together! Thankfully, I kept track of each cabinet and drawer using my nerdy sketch and post-its. It was just a matter of hanging the cabinets. Easy Peasy!

Here’s a few before and after pics of my kitchen cabinets:

Cabinets 1

Cab 1
Without the glaze applied (right)

Cab 2

Cab 3
The lightly glazed surface



A note about this project: It has been almost two years since I completed it, and it has help up wonderfully. There are small scratches in 2 places- my utensil drawers. However, it does not look bad. I recently decided that I may change the color again, because we will be getting new countertops in the next year or two. I have a new theme I want for my kitchen!

Also, it took about 10 days for me to finish this project. I started it when I had a week off from work. The length of time was mainly because it was just me doing the project, plus the drying times between steps. Overall, I am happy with the result and will probably use Rustoleum again.




My name is Amanda. I hate my house.

Well, not really. But sort of. I bought my home in 2005 as a newlywed, and thought it was awesome. Ok…it was because of the pool. I wanted a pool.

I overlooked the 80’s wallpaper, 80’s linoleum, 80’s carpet, and 80’s dark wood cabinets for as long as I could. I began to feel unhappy in my home. I began cursing whenever I walked into my kitchen or bathroom. But I was stuck- I couldn’t afford professional remodels and couldn’t afford to move. I had been taken advantage of by contractors and repair services in the past and the thought of dealing with the rigamarole of getting estimates, choosing a company, and forking out loads of dough for projects made me cringe. Don’t get me wrong- there are projects I would never attempt on my own. But I finally came to a point where I was sick enough of my house that I bravely decided to step up and take the plunge on the DIY projects I wanted done. So I did what any twenty-first century homeowner would do- I You-Tubed various projects and decided to take the bull by the horns to update my 1988 home.

I am by no means creative, but I want others to know that you don’t necessarily need to be creative, a designer, or a handyman to transform your living space.