We Stained Our Pergola- Here's How We Did It - Pretty Real

We Stained Our Pergola- Here's How We Did It

9:09 AM

DIY Black Stained Pergola

We finally stained our DIY pergola! It was always our intent to stain it, but once it was finished, we found ourselves just wanting to enjoy it! As the months passed, we noticed the wood splintering and getting gray/weathered and figured it was time. It was a big job best accomplished in the spring before temps hit the 100s (hello North Carolina summers) but if it hadn't been for quarantine, we might have continued putting it off (we're ambitious like that). After trying a million different samples, I have some things to say hence an entire post dedicated to it, plus I haven't shared any patio photos since last July so now is a good time for an update. But first, when you last saw our DIY modern pergola, it looked like this:

DIY Modern Pergola
And now it looks like this:
DIY Black Stained Pergola

On Staining the Patio

Such a difference right?! Staining the pergola took forever. So if you're planning on staining yours (whether new or giving an old one new life), prepare your heart. ha. BUT I thought I couldn't love it any more, yet here we are. Here are some useful tips for you:
DIY Black Stained Pergola
 outdoor rug  |  throw blanket  |  fire pit  |  sofa (very similar)  |  similar throw pillow

What you need
We used small and large rollers, small and medium paintbrushes, a huge tarp to protect the cement, a ladder to get to the top of the slats (and a chair), and this stain in slate. We love the color! And speaking of color...

Take your time choosing a color and finish 
You can watch my process here. It was painstaking but worth the 3 (4? 5?) trips to Home Depot. Learn from my mistakes, and grab a pamphlet with color swatches first. Bring it home and pay attention to the tones in each color. The swatch pamphlet (no idea if that's what it's called, but again watch the story to see what I mean!) for the Behr colors were arranged from warm to cool and had I realized that early on, it would've saved us a few samples. You'll want to pay attention to the color of the wood and the color of your home. Our wood looked very red and our home is coastal sage (a green/gray color) so choosing anything with red undertones looked very pink on the wood which was then magnified by the green house. We also determined pretty quickly that the quality of the wood really needed a solid stain. My biggest tip is to sample sample sample. What's another $5 considering it's going to take hours of your life and you're not likely to redo it once it's done? Lastly, if all else fails, choose black. 

DIY Black Stained Pergola

Use a high-quality roller or brush
I figured for a solid stain, it was okay to use a cheap foam brush. I was wrong. Luckily I figured that out pretty quickly and switched to a brush. Along these lines, you might want to have a variety of sizes of rollers (a small one and larger one) and brushes handy so you don't have to run to the store if you realized a different size would be more effective.

Prep the area well
We used a tarp to cover the patio. If you're using a solid stain, and it gets on vinyl siding, you can scrape it off just as you would paint. But if it gets on the cement, you're in trouble.
DIY Black Stained Pergola

That's it! After nailing the color down, it was very easy- much like painting. But remember, we used a solid stain. A transparent stain might have been a bit more finicky. I should add that if the wood was better quality, I would have been tempted to seal it and leave it natural. It doesn't look so bad in these photos when it was 'brand new,'  but in real life, it looked weathered and green and really needed something. We are really happy with how it turned out and this space is only just beginning. Can't wait to watch it continue to evolve!

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