Get ready for summer fun by turning your backyard deck into a comfortable room.

August 26, 2015

Before and After

Before, bland and unappealing. After, bright and welcoming.

This once humdrum suburban deck receives a quick-fix transformation by being decorated with all the elements you'd see inside the house: a rug, furniture, accessories, and plants. The centerpiece of this new outdoor room is a pressure-treated pine floor stained in a checkerboard pattern (putting it diagonal to the house makes the room more dynamic).

When adding furniture to your own deck, start with comfortable seating and tables for holding drinks. If you have the space, arrange the seating into different conversation groups. This deck also uses weathered shutters to help enclose the space. A kit-made potting bench serves as a sideboard as well as a display hutch. Portable pieces of architectural salvage and weathered watering cans give the deck old-fashioned charm. Potted plants and flowers arranged at varying heights soften up the hard edges while providing privacy.

Top, reclaimed millwork adds a hint of gingerbead. Above, new millwork rounds out the effect.

Reclaimed gingerbread trim brings porchlike personality to this basic deck, while simple touches such as candles and cushions add comfort and intimacy. You can buy architectural salvage at auctions, demolition sites, salvage yards, and antiques shops, then trim and nail the pieces to fit existing built-in seating.

If you can't locate antique millwork, substitute with affordable new machine-milled trim. The 3/4-inch-thick pine running trim was purchased for $30 from a mail-order stock molding company. This 48-inch-long section was stained green to match the checkerboard floor, then cut and nailed to stair risers.

Safety Checks for Recovered Millwork

  • Check for rot by using a penknife to gouge the wood, testing for soft, spongy areas. Small spots of rot can be cut or dug out and patched with wood filler.
  • Inspect for warping by checking bottom edges. Buy the pieces only if the warping doesn't hurt your project.
  • Search for pin-size holes, which are telltale signs of worm infestation. Pass over badly infested wood pieces.
  • If using exterior millwork, inspect for dormant carpenter bees, which burrow into wood and, in warm weather or if brought indoors, can eat away at wood.

Created with semitransparent evergreen- and cream-colored deck stains, this checkerboard "area rug" adds cottage style to the bare pressure-treated pine flooring. With only beginner skills and about $25, you can complete this decorating project in a day.

What You Need:

A checkerboard floor can work in a variety of spaces.
  • Deck cleaner (one that is recommended on your deck stain can)
  • Measuring tape
  • T-square
  • Chalk
  • Chalk line
  • 2 colors of semitransparent deck stain (the deck on the preceding pages features cream and evergreen)
  • Tapered-bristle paintbrush and/or disposable sponge applicators
  • Utility knife
  • Paint thinner for cleaning your brush


From top: Steps 3, 4, and 6

1. Clean your deck and allow to dry.

2. To decide the size and location of your "rug," plot where its four corners will fall. (Tip: Lay an old bedsheet on the deck, then fold it as desired to determine the rug size and placement.) The patterned area on the deck shown on the previous pages is a 93-inch square composed of 15-inch diamonds framed within a 9-inch-wide. Mark the corners with chalk.

3. Draw the outline of the rug with the chalk line, using the T-square to get the corners at 90 degree angles. Mark the width of your border in the same way.

4. Measure and mark the squares, following the pattern on the next page (or your own). Mark all the lines with small chalk marks in one direction first, then the other direction. After everything is lined up, snap the chalk line to further delineate each line.

5. Starting in the corner furthest from the entry/exit point of the deck, begin staining every other square as shown on pattern. Begin with the lighter color of the stains you've chosen. Let dry.

6. Stain remaining squares with the darker stain. If desired, use painter's tape to delineate the edges of each square beofre you paint. Let dry.

7. Paint border with the darker stain and let dry.

Follow this pattern to create a stained checkerboard "rug."


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