Hi. I was wondering if someone could give me some advice and perhaps a bit of hand holding. I am a newbie when it comes to staining and have never undertaken such a project.
I have just built ( not by myself ) a raised garden bed with Ironwood CCA treated sleepers. I have lined the insides with builders plastic. I would like to stain the external sides with a darker colour which I think would look better than the default colour of the sleepers.
I have read about staining on the internet and have information overload which has resulted in me stuck in square one and not making any progress.
I would like to keep the job simple and be done with it.
My questions are:
I am thinking of going with a water based stain instead of oil. This is because if I understand correctly, water based stain holds less moisture and and is more breathable which is better for sleepers. Is this right?
I would appreciate any advice on this matter. This is my first attempt at doing work on the house by myself. So pretty nervous and anxious.
Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @Michael-T. It's fantastic to have you join us, and many thanks for your questions.
You'll find that the sleepers are pretty saturated with their chemical treatment, so your initial applications of stain might not be absorbed as well as when the timber ages. You can try a test section to see how well the timber accepts the stain. If it doesn't absorb well, you can use Cabot's 2L New Timber Prep or allow it to age naturally. If you're going for a natural approach, it could take up to a year.
There's no need to sand the surface, and I would advise against that as it is an arsenic-based treatment.
You'll apply coats until you achieve the desired effect. This could be just one or up to three. You likely need to re-apply the stain every year or bi-yearly, depending on the weather extremes.
It's always best to apply coatings when there is no rain forecast in the immediate future. It's best to have at least a week of dry weather.
I can't think of any stains that are significantly easier to work with than others. Just start in an inconspicuous section so you can work out your process.
Stains don't weatherproof as they are pigments; oils protect from the elements. You might like to consider an exterior oil with a colourant added to it.
Just be advised that if you go for Cabot's Water Based Deck And Exterior Timber Stain, you'll get a painted effect, not what people would classically consider a stain.
I haven't heard too much about breathability and coatings on sleepers. They are used to retain damp soil and almost permanently hold some kind of moisture content. I'm not sure if breathability is something they are necessarily concerned with, but let me mention our landscape expert @Adam_W to see if he has any thoughts.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you so much for your response. I have more questions:
You'll find that the sleepers are pretty saturated with their chemical treatment, so your initial applications of stain might not be absorbed as well as when the timber ages.
Is the timber not absorbing the stain initially the only concern with staining them early?
If it doesn't absorb well, you can use Cabot's 2L New Timber Prep or allow it to age naturally. If you're going for a natural approach, it could take up to a year.
Will the Cabot's Timber Prep lessen the CCA treatment or effect it anyway?
I am not sure what you mean by natural approach. I am looking for a darker stain like Jarrah/ Redgum or Mahogany.
You likely need to re-apply the stain every year or bi-yearly, depending on the weather extremes.
When reapplying the coat yearly/bi-yearly, do I need to sand off the existing stain? If yes, is there a stain (that I will apply for the first time) that will not require me to sand it off before reapplying the coat?
There are no concerns with staining the sleepers straight away. The stain just might not penetrate as well as raw timber.
The new timber prep won't affect the treatment to any noticeable degree. It will just prep the top couple of millimetres of timber to accept stain.
Natural approach as in allowing the timber to age naturally, instead of chemically preparing the surface.
You don't need to sand with a stain. You just keep applying it over the aged stain to rejuvenate it.
Hi @Michael-T getting the sleepers prepped will just make sure there is no contamination on the surface from transport & storage.
Look for any surface sap too as that may need to be scrapped or sanded off.
The water-based stains are excellent & that's what I used here.
An old hardware hand told me something years ago & it seems to work... when you are painting material like sleepers with a water-based stain it's actually a good idea for them to be a little damp, not wet, just not bone-dry.
Reason is that when dry you end up with a surface coat where-as when damp a bit of osmosis and capillary action happens and the stain is drawn deeper into the timber.
Thank you for your reply.
When you say getting the sleepers prepped, should I do it with Cabot's 2L New Timber Prep as advised by MitchellMc?
I have seen the linked youtube video. But could not see any reference to specifically which water based stain you use. Do you have any product recommendations?
Getting the sleeper prepped not only involves using Cabot's 2L New Timber Prep. It also means that the physical surface of the sleeper must be free and clear of debris. Sticky tags and staples to be removed, hardened sap to be scraped away, and generally making sure that the overall surface of the sleeper is clean.
I suggest visiting your local store and look at the finishes that are on display. I propose testing Intergrain 250ml UltraDeck Timber Decking Stain - Jarrah / Redgum. I strongly recommend testing it in a hidden area of your sleeper to see if you like the finish. You can also bring an offcut that has been prepped to the store and ask the paint specialist to test redgum and jarrah on it.
If you need further assistance, please let us know.
Yes, the raised vegetable garden beds are still going strong after seven years or more. The two beds are sufficient to keep us in veges with opportunity to help our neighbours and friends. After the frames were put in place, we purchased a couple of trailer loads of vege mix soil from ANL, and we have supplemented that with well-broken-down compost from time to time.
Thanks EricL for mentioning them!.
Thank you so much for that update. Let me tag @Michael-T so that they are made aware of your answer. It's good to know that your garden bed is still growing vegetables. Unfortunately, my garden bed needs a bit of TLC as everything has stopped growing except for my tomatoes. Did you ever paint your garden bed or did you just leave it as is? Any new projects lined up this spring?
Again, thank you so much for sharing that update.
Thanks, Eric. No, I never painted or stained the frames. The only problem I've had with a couple of the sleepers is their tendency to twist and warp. Very hard to pull them back into line and the easiest way is to replace them if the twist is too severe.