ONE WAY YOU’RE MAKING YOUR LIFE HARDER THAN IT NEEDS TO BE.

A few years ago I adopted a “wait a week” policy on redoing any DIY I had screwed up.  AND YOU SHOULD TOO.  Maybe you hung a picture at the wrong height, or made a mess applying patio sealer or ate cat food straight out of the can thinking it was refried beans.  Whatever it was, wait a week before redoing it!  (and definitely don’t redo eating cat food)

Immediately redoing things you bungled might be making your life harder than it needs to be.  Chances are if you wait a week … whatever your screw up was … it won’t bother you anymore.

I made the decision that whatever did something wrong, I was going to wait a week before redoing it.  I was allowed to have a temper tantrum over the thought of having to do some stupid project not once, but TWICE, but I couldn’t actually redo it.  Redoing messed up DIYs is actually where the phrase The Terrible Twos originated by the way.  True story.

Most of the time I found that after a week, what I originally thought of as a catastrophic mistake, didn’t even bother me.

Last week for instance.  Let’s talk about that.

I sealed my flagstone patio last weekend (which you’ll learn how to do properly in this post) and it went a bit sideways on me.

I’ve wanted to do it for about a year now because it was looking kind of  …. I don’t know …. can you describe patio stones as pasty?  They were kindda pasty.  Maybe anemic is a better word.  Or gross.  YES!  GROSS!  THEY LOOKED GROSS!

When I first installed the square cut Indian flagstone when I rebuilt my entire backyard, it was nice and relatively dark but it faded pretty quickly and became kind of dirty over the past decade.

So I went about researching what the best kind of sealant to use on outdoor natural stone is.  I knew two things.  I did NOT want a glossy backyard but I did want a bologna sandwich.

I now have a glossy backyard and do not have a bologna sandwich.

Trying to fix my glossy backyard could have ended up with me in the hospital with a case of the nerves if I’d tried to fix the problem immediately. Instead I immediately fell to the ground, pounded the pavement with my little fists and whined.  Then I got up, walked in the house and vowed not to worry about it for a week.

So how did it all go down?

gross-backyard

Firstly I had a good cry and sniffle because someone obviously looted my backyard over the winter.

gross-backyard-2

I would never let my backyard get like this so it was a looting.  For sure.

gross-backyard-3

Maybe even I should call the police.  Or some kind of tactical force.

gross-backyard-4

Because the only thing that would be able to help me get this backyard cleaned up would be a bunch of men dressed in black wearing hazmat type suits.  With weapons.  If they’ve been featured in a calendar, shirtless, holding a kitten, even better.

sweeping

Not a single S.W.A.T. team answered me when I whisper cried for help on the Saturday morning I started my clean up, so it was up to me.

sweeping-1

TO GET YOUR NATURAL STONE READY FOR SEALING, FIRST SWEEP AWAY THE ICK.

cleaned-flagstone

SEE?  No ick.

cleaned-flagstone-2

Once I moved what was left of last winter’s wood pile I could start to power wash the stone.

cleaned-flagstone-3

But first let’s admire the pizza oven. Which has many mistakes that I waited a week to redo, and therefore never actually had to redo.

cleaned-flagstone-4

pressure-washing-flagstone

Pressure wash the stone.  I used to own a big, awful, gas powered pressure washer but I got rid of it for a smaller electric version.  On the one hand it isn’t as powerful.  On the other hand it always, always starts and never makes me swear.  Very much.

spraying-penetrating-sealer

Once your stone has dried it’s time to apply the sealer.  If you want a NON glossy (stay with me here) patio you need to use “PENETRATING SEALANT”.  This is the type of sealer that will absorb right into the stone and not just sit on top.  It’s different than regular sealant so make sure you’re getting the right thing if you don’t want a shiny surface.

If you also want to enhance (darken) the colour of your natural stone it also needs to be a “Colour Enhancer”

So to darken and seal a natural stone you need …

PENETRATING SEALER AND COLOUR ENHANCER

I spent a lot of time researching which one was the best and “511 penetrating sealant and enhancer“, came out as the very best.

There are two ways to apply penetrating sealant.  Either pour the sealant into a paint tray and roll it on or do what I’m doing, which is applying it with a fertilizer sprayer.

after-sealing-2

THE PROPER TYPE OF SEALANT TO USE FOR A MATTE LOOK ON NATURAL STONE IS “PENETRATING SEALER”

I did in fact use penetrating sealer.  And yet my patio was shiny.  Why?

I was in a rush and not feeling very much like following instructions that day.  The can says to apply the sealant, let it sit for 10 minutes then wipe off any extra that hasn’t absorbed.

Pftttt, burfffff.  I don’t need to do that.  It’ll absorb. I’m smart like that. I know things.

It didn’t absorb. The excess sealer sat on top of the stones where it turned into a sparkly, shiny, unnatural looking disaster.

Pfttt, burfff.

wiping-off-sealer

The sealant also seemed to be a bit uneven so I applied another coat (just like the directions said).  This time, I set a timer to 10 minutes, and came back and got rid of the excess.

I figured out the fastest, easiest way to do this was to wrap an old face towel around a squeegee mop.  I went through 3 towels doing this, which I then had to throw directly into the garbage.

after-sealing

After my second coat the flagstone still had a definite sheen, more than I wanted, but I wasn’t going to screw with it.  Little bits from the first coat were also threatening to peel off.

Now, prior to my whole “Wait a Week” revelation I would have tried to scrape off all of the excess sealant with a razor blade and redone the whole patio from scratch.  Because I have lunatic tendencies.

Instead I waited a week, and the patio is just fine.  Great actually.

The penetrating sealant made the flagstone much darker, MUCH easier to clean because there stones have a bit of a coating on them so dirt doesn’t stick and they look one billion times better.

If I hadn’t waited a week for both myself and the flagstone to calm down chances are I would have created an insane amount of work for my lunatic self, PLUS I probably would have made the patio worse instead of better.

backyard-final

I love it with all my heart, this patio of mine now.  I love it like a shirtless man loves a kitten.

If you want to see the full reveal of my cleaned up backyard, not just one photo,  make sure you read Friday’s post which will feature all kinds of photos of the whole backyard including tips and tweaks that I made.  It’ll be posted just in time to act as a bit of inspiration (ass kicking) for you to get your backyards cleaned up for the first long weekend of the summer.

69 Comments

  1. Mary says:

    Looks good! And love you’re looted backyard. Can I ask how high your fences are? We are enclosing our tiny yard this year with 6′ high fences and I’m worried they’ll be too high.
    I love your blog
    Mary

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary. I”m not exactly sure how high they are but they’re higher than 6′. I don’t think you’ll feel 6′ is too high. It just makes it feel cozy and secluded. ~ karen!

  2. Jan says:

    Beautiful! Like you just had a nice, dust washing rain. (only not as shiny!)

  3. Laura Bee says:

    So beautiful. Your place cleans up nice…our is still recovering from the previous owners dogs. My bf washed the deck & told me I get to stain/seal it. Yay. There’s also a bag of grass repair seed we need to put on our “lawn” but his sisters will be here the first week of June & there will be scooters & beer. The last time I tried to repair our lawn (old house) there was an unfortunate (but I can laugh now) incident involving a mini bike, champagne & his sisters. I’ll wait.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Has your deck been stained and sealed in the past? If not, don’t do it! That will just become a make work project for the future. Our deck is about 25 years old and it just turned a nice silver grey over the years. The odd board gets old and needs replacement but for the most part, it just gets power washed every spring and that’s it! Don’t fall for all the advertising hype about “sealing & protecting” the wood. It’s just a way of separating you from your hard earned money and adding more work to that long list.

  4. Barbie says:

    It’s beatiful Karen….great job….with the patio and the “waiting” …….we get wiser as we get older…..

  5. Barbie says:

    * Beautiful…..not beatiful lol

  6. Jessica says:

    Yes! Looks great. Did the same thing to my flagg stone patio and am very happy with it. You’ll find it gets hotter in the summer though…. fyi.
    I want to hear more about your pressure washer choice.
    I’ve been told not to buy, but to rent instead. I like the idea if owning with little/low maintenance.
    Do you recommend the small electric for cleaning the house and patio a couple times per year? What brand do you like? How much did you spend?
    Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jessica. Like I said in the post, I got rid of the stupid gas powered pressure washer because it is NOT low maintenance. Also it’s HUGE so finding somewhere to store it where it would be out of site in my small backyard was a pain. I literally bought the one I bought based on what size it was. It was the smallest I could find that still had a fair amount of power. The smaller powered ones will do just about any job, it’ll just take longer to do it. My advice is to wait until power washer go on sale though. They’re expensive and often go half price at least once during the summer. ~ karen!

  7. Liz Saavedra says:

    Very good advice, which I will plan on adopting. I usually stop, sleep on it, lay in bed and worry how I’m going to fix my mess, then try again the next day. It sometimes works, other times, not so much. I once completely abandoned a failed project (assembling a small metal storage shed). I was following the instructions to assemble it and grew frustrated and angry as parts bent and became dented in the process. It started looking like a car backed into it several times in different spots. I hated doing it and was horrified by the way it looked. I quit and let it sit, half done, baking in the sun. Then it began to rust and fade. I eventually got rid of the whole mess a few months later, and had a larger wooden shed built. A much better outcome.

  8. Lisa says:

    Ah yes – the joys of waiting… Love the new look of the courtyard. The pavers have that just rained on look; perfect. I have to wait all the time when I repaint my furniture. I’ve come to love the slightly banged about look; don’t worry when they do get “banged” now. Sort of like – the first scratch on a new car – annoying; but then you don’t worry so much. Do your chooks wander about into your neighbours yard. The chooks at the back love my yard and I’m happy to welcome them – they chase out the scrub turkeys.

    • Karen says:

      No, lol, there’s no chicken wandering going on here. 🙂 They stay neatly in their coop and run. I don’t even let them in the rest of my own backyard because they’ll eat every plant in sight! ~ karen!

      • Lisa says:

        I don’t have anything other than “widow makers” (large gum trees) in my backyard – so the chickens love it, lots of scratching around in the dirt and leaves. They never seem to make it into my front yard – fortunately. Love chooks. Love that yours stay in their coop and run. Good chooks. 🙂

  9. Gillian says:

    Wow, if that’s your backyard looking like it has bee looted then mine would give you hives! We’re renovating our main floor bathroom and EVERYTHING is in the backyard….old and new. Ugh! I think it’s giving me hives. LoL

  10. MissChris SA says:

    I love love love it – love the finish!!

  11. Luanne says:

    Love the patio. Love the 2 week waiting period. Also love knowing that someone else is benefiting from the waiting. 🙂

  12. Catt in Kentucky says:

    Your patio looks truly family. Love the darker color!

  13. Cathy says:

    Wonder if sealant comes in a smaller amount. My patio will be 10×10 at most and $167.&change is a lot for me to invest. I’m still not sure pavers need sealing. But if it would extend the life of the patio for future owners, I might try.

    • Michelle says:

      Home Depot or Lowes if in the states carries it in a smaller size at $49 ish. It is the best product referred by many. I used it to darken my Saltillo in my laundry.

    • Karen says:

      My can isn’t that big Cathy. Probably 4 litres. I *think* you can buy 1 litre cans of it though. ~ karen!

  14. TucsonPatty says:

    A dear friend once told me “Your solutions are worse than your problems.” And she was right a lot of the time. I’m going to try it your way when I can. Love the patio with all its iterations – you really live there, and use it!

  15. Holly says:

    As Lisa said, The pavers have that just rained on look; perfect. I have learned to wait as well, which is extremely difficult as I am a type A personality, though I find as I get older, that trait is receding. I will never get rid of it, but am learning to let things go a little bit longer. I think it is a positive to be a type A sometimes, because I have friends who aren’t and they don’t seem to have any problem with having projects go on for years, disorganized, etc. and it drives me crazy. Great job! I have nothing but the utmost respect for what you accomplish…I am amazed!

    I’ve never been hyper-driven tho on bigger projects, as I am too broke, plus being a single mom, taking care of house and yards, part-time job. More like re-doing cabinets, plants, etc., and cheaper stuff.

    My dream is to take silver-smithing classes to increase the level of my hand-made custom jewelry.
    That would be heaven! Great job on the back patio!!

  16. Lucie says:

    By golly, shirtless men DO love kittens! Nice work, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      They really do. I mean, sometimes they might be wearing firefighter suspenders, but that still counts as shirtless. ~ karen!

  17. Suzanne says:

    Looks great! How do you prevent weeds from growing between the cracks of your pavers?

    • Karen says:

      The very odd weed grows and I just pull it out. It’s a semi-permanent cement/sand mix between the pavers so it isn’t a very hospitable environment for anything to grow. ~ karen!

  18. Cred says:

    Oh, I love it. I love the dramatic black- stones, furniture and shed; they contrast the plants perfectly. And I, too, would like to know the answer to Suzanne’s question above. And also about your furniture- where you got it, did you stain it yourself, and if so, the colour of the stain. Perhaps you could include that information in your friday post with the full reveal.

  19. Karen says:

    I can hardly wait for Friday cause I do need a good ass-kicking! Sometimes things just look and feel too overwhelming!

  20. Monique says:

    Well done!! The razor blade LOL..
    Looks great and ready for a lovely summer.

  21. Sandy says:

    I see you got your patio furniture all set-up just in time for yesterday’s snow flurries!

    • Karen says:

      Yes, isn’t that wonderful? The furniture all looked so pretty covered in a layer of snow, out my kitchen window. :/ ~ karen!

  22. Attygreen13 says:

    Beautiful! Once used the same penetrating sealer/color enhancer, as recommended by my floor guy, on a slate floor. Looked like an ice skating rink after. So shiny I actually jack-hammered it up – after waiting a week 😉

    WANT your garden balls (spheres?) in the 3 sizes! Been searching forever for some
    – where did you find yours?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Attygreen13! Those are 2 glass shades I got at a thrift store and a big plastic globe I found in the garbage walking home one day. I fill them with old Christmas lights to make Glowing Outdoor Orbs. One of my most popular posts. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Attygreen13 says:

        Dang! Thought for sure they were concrete balls (heh, I said balls). The search continues … Thanks for the reply!

  23. charlotte tataryn says:

    Hi Karen, again a chuckle in the morning – I can’t seem to stay up long enough to wait for your 11:30 arrival. In any case, WOW, what an awesome tree and a beautiful backyard. You are my version of superwoman and I like your clothes way better. Everyone has told you already about the change in the before and after photos of your newly finished stones so I can’t expand on that but I do want to say thanks for the paint idea. I’m recuperating from surgery at the moment – again – and we are having our LR flooring redone while having our attached screen porch winterized and then floored to extend the visual space of the room. That’s a lot of work as we have no place to move the ‘stuff’ except into our dining room where the flooring is. Good thing there was a goat or two somewhere down the family tree and I’m too stubborn to accept defeat.
    YOUR BLACK SHED is the best thing I’ve seen in a long while. It’s a) my favourite colour b) my favourite colour and c) it makes things appear invisible and I mean that literally. In any case, with a bit of scraping and a couple of cans of paint, my sad little used-to-match-the-house-colour shed will now match the window trim (black, that you can’t see OR black that is a very dramatic accent) of the house, and will visually extend that part of the garden, while being unnoticeable. Keep on trucking Karen – you are by far the most fun and creative person I know or as I’ve mentioned before, “feel” like I know. Thanks for being who you are. Charlotte T., Winnipeg where there are no trees like that but we are beginning to turn green and hopefully the nasty frost 2 nights ago (my poor kiwi) is the last of it.

  24. Sheryl Powell says:

    Love that all black shed. Thinking of painting my vaulted living room ceiling black. Hmmm

  25. Jenny says:

    This is a perfectly timed post for me, for several reasons. I recently installed about 650 sq ft of floating hardwood in my home. Ive been wanting to do it for awhile, our carpet was 5 years old and it was showing. I was steam cleaning it at least once a month (because it was white and Im a fanatic), so I figured it was time.
    I found this great engineered wood floor at Home Depot on sale and I bought enough of it so I could get rid of our awful carpeting throughout the house.
    My husband thought I was crazy, he said several (hundred) times, why dont we hire someone to do that, its a lot of work, its going to take forever. He is NOT a diy’er at all, so I ignored him, skimmed the instructions and got to taking off the baseboards! The living room/dining room took about 2 days to complete. When it was done I stood up and admired my work. It was then that I realized I had made a mistake, I had laid the floor in an H pattern. They call them H joints, its where every other joint lines up and its not a recommend way of laying flooring.
    I called my dad, because he owns a flooring company (yup, thats where I get my mad skills) and he came over to take a look. He told me it looks fine, the wood is so dark that the H joints aren’t even that noticeable. But I had 2 options, either take it all up or live with it. So I lived with it, and after about a week I stopped focusing on the H pattern and now I hardly notice it at all!
    I can totally relate Karen, my first thought was to rip it all up, it would have been a ton of work..unnecessary work.
    Your flagstone looks beautiful! Which brings me to the 2nd reason this post was meant just for me. I noticed that its laid in an H pattern, somehow seeing that just made me feel a whole lot better! 🙂

    • Dale says:

      So, Jenny, can you explain what is wrong with the H pattern and what are the options?
      We pulled the carpeting from three rooms on the main floor about ten years ago. I spent a week on my knees scraping, sanding, finishing, sanding, more finishing, more sanding. In the meantime the dogs and general foot traffic have shredded the varnish. My knees will not take a renewal of that action and am looking into similar wood flooring as you have done.

      • Jenny says:

        So the rules of the wood laying road are, joints should be at least 6 inches apart from each adjoining plank and the joints should not line up with every other plank. If this occurs (in my case) it gives the appearance of an “H”. The correct way is to stagger them, so the pattern looks random. There are 2 reasons for this, floor integrity and in my case the instructions clearly show a diagram of how NOT to lay the flooring and “H” pattern was one of those ways. If ever the warranty would come into play it would be void because I didn’t follow the the manufacturer’s instructions.
        I cant say that it looks horrible and no one (not even my OCD hubs) minds the H pattern, I think being that I chose a dark coffee oak, the pattern is not very noticeable.
        I ran the wood into our home office and at the doorway I did make a subtle transition to a staggered pattern, making sure that the joints were at least 6 inches apart and no H pattern. I cant say that I like it better, but it does look a little more natural.

  26. Erin says:

    I think someone looted my garage over the winter. And the sunroom. Lovely inspiration to get my arse in gear until the S.W.A.T. team arrives.

  27. Jackie says:

    Looks great, as usual, Karen. You do the best work.

  28. Linda says:

    I didn’t even get the one picture. Just two ads. 🙁

    • Karen says:

      You didn’t get the picture of my black table with white chair? You may need to clear your cache on your phone, tablet or laptop. 🙂 ~ karen!

  29. Linda in Illinois says:

    very nice work Karen. Love the dark color the best, the color after a gentle rain. Anxious for Fridays post !!

  30. Dale says:

    Your statement of not following instructions, my mind clicked onto the famous quote from “unknown”:
    “Knowledge is reading the instructions. Experience is what-ever-the-hell happens if you don’t.”
    I, unfortunately, tend to exist on the second half of this statement.

    And definitely a penetrating sealer not a surface coating. Otherwise you’d be scraping away flakes of loose coatings after a year or two.

  31. maggie van sickle says:

    Nice! Now for a bottle of wine and a pizza. Wish I was your neighbour I would supply both, the wine and the ingredients for a homemade pizza. Enough for both of us. Just sayin.

  32. Jan in Waterdown says:

    My husband is the power tool owner, except for the pressure washer . . . that baby is all MINE! It is my fave. I love writing bad words on the side walk and it’s amazing how well it cleans both stone and wood. After blasting the driveway, I’m covered in dirt and it’s fun. Hmmmm, time to fire that puppy up for a little spring cleaning.

  33. It looks like the backyard looters passed up the failed fly trap.

    Beautiful stone, either sealed or pasty.

  34. Heather J Tebbutt says:

    Well Karen, your excellent photos have motivated me to work on my ‘crooked’ fence this weekend…going to check out what I need tomorrow…I am going to use what I can of the existing fence. I was showing my staff this post & they were in awe of what you have accomplished…

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Heather, lol. I hope your staff don’t hate me now. 🙂 Sealing the stone was nothing. Laying the stone? That was a bit of a “thing”. Good luck with your crooked fence, and you’re right! Getting what you need and having it on hand makes any project WAY more likely to be tackled. It’s the number one thing I teach in my Get Stuff Done course! ~ karen

  35. Ronda says:

    we’ll be getting our patio stones delivered very soon, so this is timely for sure! Thanks for being such a great guinea pig … i mean product tester!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ronda! If you’re going to seal your patio (and I highly recommend it at this point!) I would do it sooner rather than later. Some of my stones were so dirty after 10 years that they were stained so the sealer just had to go right over the stains. If you do it on new stones they’ll look much better! ~ karen

  36. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I love your backyard Karen…the stone looks great now!

  37. Dan says:

    Backyard is nothing short of awesome. Imma steal some ideas for the ideas we’re coming up with to redo our backyard, which we won’t actually do.

    Also, I’m going to assume that propane cylinder beside your pizza oven is just there to be out of the way during this whole process. Because that’s the only mistake I see in that pizza oven. Unless of course you’re fishing for firemen in suspenders with kittens. That’s actually a pretty good way to get them into your backyard.

  38. Benjamin says:

    You did a real nice job there Karen. Prettied the place up so nice and fresh.

  39. Marna says:

    Wow I am so impressed! It all looks fantastic! Great job! 🙂

  40. Maureen says:

    Looks so good! You are my amazing diy guru! Thanks for all of the sharing you do.

  41. Kristy says:

    Nice patio! Gives me ideas for our backyard (which desperately needs help).

  42. Meredith says:

    Question: How long does that underplanting of Lily of the Valley look nice? I love how nice and bright and uniform it looks and would like to do the same under a maple I have. Worried that it will look like crap for most of the summer. I have a huge patch of LIly of the Valley in a wooded area on my property (in full shade) and the foliage lasts pretty long there, til maybe late summer, but not sure how it would do in partial shade/part sun. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      I can’t actually remember when they start to look gross, Meredith, lol. But to help combat that, I have a bunch of hostas planted in with the lily of the valley so even if the lily of the valley start to take a turn for the worse, there are hostas that have filled in. From what I remember, the green leaves last most of the summer though. ~ karen!

  43. Elaine says:

    What a gorgeous patio you have, Karen!! So elegant and I love the way the shed disappears into the background ….. super choice of color!

  44. Cindy says:

    Karen it looks great. Good job girl.

  45. Lisa Wallace says:

    Many years ago, I realized that when immersed in a sewing or craft project, most often in the evening – because that is when I’m allowed to take over the kitchen table – and found that I’ve made a mistake, the best course of action was to be done for the day. Pack it all away, fix it when I am able to come back to it – it almost always means I’m too tired and should not be allowed to handle sewing machines, knitting needles, scissors or hot glue guns. Now, how can we teach my husband this valuable guideline? Because the number of times I have watched him f’ it up and then stress himself out trying to fix it right then threaten to make me go bonkers just thinking about it!

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