Cutek Deck Stain Case Study by Brooke & Kevin in Calgary

Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme - Walnut
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: the remaining owner sold the bungalow to its second owners in 2009. The second owners were very into organic living and turned the front yard into an “Urban Edible Forest” with young fruit bearing shrubs and trees. However, in the process of creating the front yard “forest” they removed the original concrete retaining wall at the sidewalk and used the blocks as small tiers on the hillside. This unfortunately left the hill, composed mostly of sand, unstable and by the time we purchased the house in 2013 there was soil erosion at the bottom of the hill and the existing concrete steps had started to slump and pull away from the slope.

House in 2009 when it was sold to the second owner:

House right before the construction started at the end of May 2016. This was how the front yard looked when we purchased it:

View looking west across the top of the hill:

Side yard and old fencing:

In October 2015 we contacted Ken Whitford and Ruben Stahl of Domain Landscape Design Build Corporation to design and build a replacement retaining wall that would help to stabilize the front hill and create an easier to maintain front yard. After several design concepts Domain started the wall construction at the end of May 2016 and was it complete 3 months later. One of the main concerns we had about the whole process was keeping the costs of the retaining wall as reasonable as possible across the 80 foot wide lot and 9+ foot elevation from the street to top of hill. Using green pressure treated wood timbers was the most cost effective and helped to keep the property consistent as it matched an existing retaining wall on the side property line.

Concept sketch by Ken Whitford of Domain Landscape Design Build Corporation:

Start of construction, stair removal:

Retaining wall construction:

Since the completion of the retaining wall we have worked on building the front wood screening and backyard fencing using horizontal boards to create more of a modern feel to the front and backyards. The remaining fencing will be completed in sections over the summer. As a bonus, the new retaining wall pushed the top of the hill out 3-4 feet and a large patio has been planned for the space. The screening in the front adds character and privacy to the modest bungalow and creates a pseudo-courtyard as seen in California style Mid-century modern homes. The remaining patio concrete pavers and grid style sidewalk around the house will be installed in a couple years. It is the perfect place to escape the heat of south facing backyard and provides a wonderful vantage of Downtown Calgary.

Current front view:

Current view looking East along top of hill:

Current view looking West along top of Hill (patio stones to be completed at a later date):

Current Side Yard (grid sidewalk still to be installed):

While cost effective, the main downside to using green pressure treated wood is the colour. We’re very happy with the design of the front yard and how the wall has turned out but the green tinge really clashes with the blue siding. The siding will be painted next year and eventually replaced with stucco when we can save enough money to replace the windows at the same time. The sheer quantity of wood in the front comes off as harsh and very barren and we’ve been delaying adding any shrubs or perennials into the tiers until we found a product that would help with the colour and wouldn’t be too much maintenance. With close to 6630 sqft of wood to staining is not something we want to do every year and we definitely didn’t want to have to strip or sand all the wood we have each time we needed to stain it.

After researching stains online, I came across several reviews for Cutek Extreme and looked further into the product. The fact we could refresh the colour at any point without colour overlap issues or having to strip or sand anything was what sold me on it. The less work the better! That it is also a wood preservative is a huge bonus for us. We want to make sure that the wood we’ve used for the retaining wall and fencing is going to last a long time and not warp or crack as easily as it would with regular stain. We’ve invested a lot of money into making sure the front hill is stable and it wouldn’t make sense to use a sub-par product that wouldn’t help extend the life of the wall.

I contacted Cutek directly to find where I could purchase the stain in Calgary and they passed on the only store that carried it – The Deck Store.

The Deck Store employees were very helpful when I phoned to ask if they had any colour samples to look at or to take home (Cutek Extreme comes in 11 colours, clear plus 10 colour tones). We went to The Deck Store a couple weeks later into the store and picked up free sample cans of the four colours we were interested in. Simon, the General Manager, was great at going over the colour options and showed us various sample photos to help us narrow down the colours we wanted to try.

Simon was also very quick to provide us a quote for our project so we knew exactly how much it would cost (One Gallon of Cutek Extreme $119.99 + One Cutek Tint $12.99 = $132.98/Coloured gallon). The first time you apply Cutek you need to use two coats to get proper protection, so we’re looking at staining 13,260 sqft total area. The coverage for the stain runs between 400-600 sqft depending on the type of wood and how it absorbs (for example: our rough timber wall will probably absorb more than the fence boards). We’ll track how much stain we use vs how much stain we estimated we required.

We narrowed our choices down to 4; Chestnut, Grey Mist, Sela Brown and Walnut and we tried each of the colours on 3 different types of the pressure treated wood (rough post wood, fence boards and 1x2 strips) to see if there would be a colour difference on the different types of wood. All the colours were nice but we gravitated towards Walnut. It was a deep rich colour and you couldn’t see any of the green tones of the wood below. Over the last 2-4 years there has been a noticeable trend online of really dark brown or black stains on fencing and it looks stunning. It’s not the typical colour you would expect to see or to look good but instead of emphasising the wood, the darker fence almost recedes into the background and the trees/ plants are the focus. That’s the main reason we chose to go with the Walnut colour. It may look a bit dark for a few years before the plants fill in but I’m hoping it will help to deemphasize the wood and make the plants the star of the house.

Sample Colours on green fence board (from left to right: Walnut, Sela Brown, Grey Mist and Chestnut):

Final colour choice – Walnut:

Stay tuned for the inspiration in choosing Cutek’s Walnut! Brooke


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme - Walnut
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: July 2017


Inspiration for the stain colour chosen:

We’ve slowly been retro-vating our 1960’s bungalow back from an 80’s renovation to something a bit more sympathetic to the 1960’s. The houses in Southwood started changing hands the last 5-10 years from original owners to new comers  who were interested in the location, the uniqueness of the houses and the larger than average lot sizes. Our particular location in the neighbourhood has lots ranging from 50ft wide up to 80+/- ft and it includes the original farmstead located on a 1 acre parcel a few blocks away from our house. Until we started looking for homes in the area we didn’t realize Southwood existed sandwiched in between Canyon Meadows and Haysboro. We don’t often think of this area in Calgary as a very hilly, but all of the houses on our street have either sloped backyards or sloped front yards with our house being the highest on the street with a total of 23 steps to get from the sidewalk into the house. We are lucky though to have a flat backyard and a detached garage so we mostly access the house from the rear.

Southwood is pretty typical of Calgary’s other 1960’s neighbourhoods and the exteriors have mostly kept true to their 1960’s roots. The first time we viewed the home I saw the potential to tier the front hill and create something really unique to Calgary. The hill itself reminded me of the rolling tiered hillside homes in Northern California and that there was a potential to create something similar here. We wanted to make sure it would be sympathetic to the 1960’s bungalow and the neighbouring houses. Northern California is a hotbed of modernist mid-century houses and I often look towards the south for inspiration. We can’t always match all the plants and materials used In California due to our weather/material availability but we can certainly take bits and pieces to create something that works for our climate.

These three Californian homes/landscapes were a great inspiration in choosing Cutek’s Walnut colourtone. The first photo is of the backyard of Andy & Karen who run the blog Fogmodern (www.fogmodern.com) located in Sacramento and the second photo is of a backyard designed Beth Mullins of Growsgreen Landscape Design (www.growsgreen.com) in San Mateo, California.  In both photos the dark fencing really sets off the newly planted shrubs/grasses and modern hardscaping. The third photos shows the inspiration for my love of dark wood retaining walls and how well the brightly coloured flowers and grasses are pop in front of the dark colour. This Danville, California landscape is designed by Envision Landscape Studio.

Cutek does come in a Black colour (Black Ash), which would reflect the inspiration photos a bit more closely than the Walnut colour but I’m worried if we went with Black Ash that it would be too over powering on the front of the house with 9 ft (3m) of retaining wall.

Source – Fogmodern (http://fogmodern.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/side-yard-side-view.jpg):

Source - Growsgreen: (https://cdn.gardenista.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/fields/Growsgreen-Eichler-Landscape-Remodel-Gardenista-5.jpg)

This photo and landscape designed by Envision Landscape Studio is my favourite out of the three examples. I like the dark retaining wall and how the plants used really contrast with the dark stain. This is how I envision (no pun intended) the front yard looking after the plants have filled in and I plan to use similar planting seen in this photo.

Source - Envision Landscape Studio (http://www.gardendesign.com/pictures/images/650x490Exact/site_3/02-barden-residence-miller-garden-design_9043.jpg)

Stay tuned for the start of staining! Brooke


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme - Walnut
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: July 7, 2017


We have started prepping for Cutek Extreme stain in Walnut. Our retaining wall has been sitting for just under a year and while it didn’t look too dirty we wanted to give it a quick power wash to remove any old construction dirt from last year and a few locations where the concrete from the posts had smeared onto the sides. On such a hot day, the first weekend of Stampede (31C),  it wasn’t a hard choice to switch from fence building to power washing where the spray back was a welcome relief to the heat!

We didn’t have any previous finish on the wall and the wood itself hadn’t greyed so we don’t need to use the Cutek ProClean first. We are also very lucky that Cutek doesn’t require your wood to weather for a year before applying the stain. This means the brand new side yard fence we’re in the process of finishing doesn’t need any wait time before we start staining.

Side yard fencing in progress:

Even the old wood retaining wall on the side hasn’t gone very grey so I feel pretty confident in just giving it a power wash when we get to that side of the project. If we do start to stain it and notice it’s looking really dirty through the stain then we will head back to The Deck Store and purchase Cutek’s ProClean which will lift the existing colour to make the old wood look new again. Also because the side fence sits on top of our retaining wall we are solely responsible for the maintenance of the fencing/wall. We debated heavily on whether we should stain the old retaining wall and the side of the fence that faces our neighbour (since we won’t see it) but after considering the benefits of Cutek and the extra protection it would provide the old wood we decided to go ahead and stain it. It will also provide our neighbour with a more cohesive look on their side since we had to put the “good” side of the fence facing our yard due to the structure of the wall. The stain will help to hide the difference in colour between the new fencing and old retaining wall. Happy neighbours make good neighbours and it will be money well spent.

View from Neighbours yard of the new fence and old retaining wall (the old wood is greener than shown in the photo):

Staining will start soon! Brooke


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme - Walnut
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: July 15, 2017


I showed up at The Deck Store today (Saturday) and met with The Deck Store staff to pick up the first batch of Cutek Extreme and the walnut colour tone containers. Cutek Extreme is an interesting product in that it doesn’t come pre-mixed; you start off with a gallon of clear Cutek and add colour into it. This allows you change the intensity of the colour to your liking by adding 1, 2 or 3 colour tones to a single gallon Cutek. We’re sticking with a 1:1 ratio since we liked how dark the walnut colour turned out on the samples that we did. We haven’t had any previous staining experience but based on the Cutek website instructional videos it should go smoothly (http://www.cutekextreme.com/gallery/video-resources).

When researching stain I came across common issues that I hadn’t thought of and aren’t issues with Cutek. First regular stain application is not recommended on very hot days which can cause the stain to dry quickly leading to the second issue, overlap marks (where there’s a line of darker stain between two stained sections). With regular stain you need to maintain a wet edge so you don’t end up with unsightly colour lines/variations. Cutek Extreme was developed in the Australian heat and is slow to dry (up to 72+ hours depending on the weather) which means no worrying about overlap marks due to stain drying quickly.

Here are the items we’ve picked up to apply the stain:

  • Rubber Gloves
  • Drop cloth (it’s recommended you keep Cutek away from any plant material)
  • Metal trim edger  (to be used as a barrier for cutting in around grass and concrete pavers. Not shown in photo)
  • Stain pads with paint poles
  • Natural paint brushes
  • Paint tray
  • Water bucket
  • Rags (for drips)
  • Stir sticks (recommended stirring every 10-20 minutes during use)

We plan to start staining on Sunday, July 16 to give the wall an extra day to dry out from the recent rain Mon-Tuesday and the weather looks good until later in the week when it’s supposed to rain again (Cutek recommends making sure that there will be no rain 24 hours after you apply the product).

A few sections of our front screening will have boards doubled up so that there is a good side on both sides. We will tackle these areas first so that we can let it the inside dry and then attach the other boards. From there we plan on working on the retaining walls, any fencing that won’t be doubled up and finally leaving the stairs until last. I anticipate due to the design of our fencing it will take a while to apply the stain in between each board. As a side note, Cutek can be wet-stacked so we plan on staining the doubled up boards before they get attached to the fencing out front. Had we chosen the stain before we started the fencing on the side yard we also could have pre-stained everything and saved ourselves a lot laying in the dirt to stain the underside of the fence boards. When we start the back fencing we will make sure to pre-stain everything before installation.

Fencing to be stained first:

We start staining tomorrow! Brooke


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme - Walnut
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: July 25, 2017


We were ready to get staining on July 15 and then it rained for several days and we had to let the wood dry out before we could get started.  First up was to mix the Cutek Colourtone into the gallon of Cutek Extreme clear. Make sure you shake the colourtone well before pouring it into the clear.

And here came the moment of truth! The first stained boards (shown wet):

Cutek Extreme has the consistency of a thin Olive Oil, so the natural brushes we used soaked up the stain easily but because it’s a thinner consistence we decided to work on opposite sides to each other so we could catch any drips coming from either side of the boards as we stained. This worked really well for this portion of the fencing since I could stain the bottom edges and Kevin could stain the tops I couldn’t reach.

We managed to finish off this run of fencing in approximately 3-3.5 hours:

As the person painting with the brush above my head I did find that because of the thinner consistence the Cutek ran down the brush and splattered my clothes/arms. We also noticed as we came closer to the patio stones that are installed the Cutek Extreme tended to splatter as we brushed it on. So full warning, don’t wear clothes you care about and if you’ll be near anything you don’t want stained make sure to use that handy drop cloth you purchased earlier!

You can see the brown splatters on the grey concrete. Ooops! I’m hoping that since it’s not a lot of stain that it’ll eventually wear off with foot traffic and snow.

As first days go I think this went rather well. The Cutek will take up to 72 hours to dry so we’ll wait and see how the colour looks after it has had a chance to dry. This section of fencing and posts used up just over 1 gallon of the Cutek Extreme, which I thought it might stretch a bit further. I suspect the main culprits are the rough cut posts and the rougher 1x2 thin boards which sucked up the Cutek like a sponge. We did even notice that these fence boards sucked up a bit more stain than we thought they would. Going forward we mostly plan to work on weekends (as we both work during the week) so next Saturday we have a date with the remaining doubled up fencing and starting the retaining wall.


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme - Walnut
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: Aug 1, 2017


So, here’s the thing about the colour… I’ll admit that I freaked out and panicked a bit. We had spent a lot of money to build the retaining wall and I was worried I had picked the wrong colour and now we would be stuck with something we didn’t like. The way the Cutek Extreme dried was not the deep rich chocolate brown from the samples we prepared with the sample Walnut can we were given. The colour in reality seemed to be a redish/brown that was not close to what I had wanted.

Here is the post comparison the day after we stained July 26 (The Cutek was still wet at this point):

Here is the stain on Aug 1 after it had dried for 6 days:

The stain was definitely not the right colour and we wracked our brains to figure out what we had done wrong. It was only the first coat so the second coat would darker the colour however I was still concerned about how red the first coat was and that the second coat would only make it worse.

What we figured out was that the fencing and retaining wall had been bleached out from the sun/weathered enough over the year that the samples that they didn’t match the wood we used as samples. The fence board seen on the left in the photo above was a cut off but it had been stored in the garage and the post you see in the right had been outside but at the bottom of a pile of other posts so hadn’t received any sun bleaching. What were we seeing was the yellow tone of the wood coming through the stain vs the greener wood we used as a sample.  Green is the opposite of red and would have toned down any red tones in the sample colour we tested. So based on that experience if you have somewhere that will be hidden I would highly recommend that you do a sample on the wood you will actually be staining. I suspect if you’re using brown pressure treated wood or a higher end exotic wood with brown tones the redness wouldn’t be as prominent but make sure to test before you go too far.

At this point we will have to continue with the Walnut colour as the first coat across all the fencing/retaining walls. Even if we decide to change colours we will need to have the base layer to make sure the finished product is consistent. We have a couple of options that we’ll think about while we finish the first coat:

  1. We go with the flow and accept that the colour is what it is and do a second coat in Walnut
  2. We stick with the Walnut stain but in the second coat we attempt to darken the colour by using 2 colourtones per 1 gallon of Cutek Extreme. It will bump up the price slightly per gallon but not by much.
  3. We use the Black Ash colour (mentioned way back at the start of the posts) for the second coat and go straight over the first one. I found someone on Instagram in Eastern Canada that had a similar colour issue (too red) when staining her Cedar fencing “Chestnut” and they used the Black Ash as a second coat and it turned out nice in the end but much darker than they had originally intended.
  4. We mix Walnut and Black Ash together in a 1:1 ratio (Mix 1 Walnut mixed Gallon + 1 Black Ash Gallon= 2 gallons). The one thing I worried about with just using straight Black Ash was that it would look like a glaze over top of the other colour so by mixing the two into a custom colour it has the undertones of Walnut but the Black darkens the colour overall.

One of the things we worried about adding black into the mix is whether the warm undertones of the Walnut would look horrible with the cooler toned Black Ash. I planned on calling up The Deck Store and seeing if they had a small sample can of the Black colour to test once we had finished off the first coat of Walnut. We went camping that weekend so we didn’t get much else completed on the front.


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme - Walnut
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: Aug  5, 6 & 7, 2017


It’s the August long weekend and we plan on hitting the front really hard. We’ve been delayed with some rain, we were away last weekend and if feels like we’re running out of summer to complete everything we had planned to do. On Saturday we worked on finishing the last of the double sided fencing at the top and start on the retaining wall. We did managed to get a fair chunk of the right side done before it started to rain on us and we had to pack it in (I was a tad worried about the stain washing off but the next day it was fine).

One thing we did notice was how much stain the rough sawn retaining wall boards sucked up. If we had thought the posts were thirsty we were mistaken. The sections shown above roughly used 2 gallons of stain which seemed impossible considering the coverage of 400-600sqft but I think these section got a pretty heavy hand since we needed to scrub the stain into the rough surface to get an even coverage. It was also surprising how long each section would take to complete strictly due to how rough the wood was. We found Cutek incredibly easy to apply even on the rough wood so we have no doubt that it would apply in no time flat to a smooth finished deck board. 

Something that we did notice was that the retaining wall was coming out darker and closer in colour to the sample than we had originally thought. I was feeling much better about the colour as we started to get more of the walls stained and wondering if just a second coat of Walnut would solve the issue of the colour difference.

On Sunday we continued with the retaining wall, taking it one tier at a time. We finished the second tier on the right hand side and the top tier on the left hand side before moving onto the bottom tier. Learning our lesson from earlier we made sure to cover a large section of rock to either side of the one we were staining to prevent the rocks from getting splattered. If you have plants make sure not to get the Cutek on them!

We worked from roughly 9am to 6pm and managed to get all of the retaining walls stained until it, once again, started to rain on us (couldn’t catch a break!). Instead of giving up for the night we set up shop in the garage for all the wood that would need to be stained for the doubled up section of fencing. We used a roll of outdoor table cloth to cover the floor of the garage and table used to dry the wood after they had been stained. It went so quickly that the equivalent area that took us 4-5 hours to stain only took us 40 minutes in the garage (this is the reason everything else that is not installed will get pre-stained before installation!)

On Monday I went outside early in the morning to get a good shot of the wall in the morning light and I was feeling a bit better about the colour. It’s definitely more fawn coloured than walnut but it was still looking nice in the morning light. Several of the neighbours commented on how much they liked the colour and we even had 2 separate strangers stop their cars (on drove by and reversed)  and get out to comment on how nice the wall was looking with the stain. It’s funny to watch people’s reactions to coming across our house either in their car or when walking down the street. Ever since the wall was installed last year we’ve had dozens of people stop in their tracks to look at the front yard (if their walking), slow their cars down to a crawl or come to a dead stop to view the retaining wall and the ones I enjoy the most are when someone drives past the house and has to reverse their car to go back and view it.

On the Monday we worked on dealing with the stair stringers and anything under the stairs that you could see along with the railings and managed to finish off everything but the top right railing and the inside of the top left railing before it started to rail again and we called it quits for the weekend. The stairs were incredible awkward to stain since they are low to the ground and we had to crawl underneath to get to certain areas. They took significantly longer than we had anticipated. But at least the bottom stairs were prepped for tread staining.

Back at it next weekend with stair railings continued, upper stair prep and hopefully staining all the stair treads. Brooke


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme - Walnut
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: Aug  12 & 13, 2017


Saturday is stair day! This weekend we are really hoping to finish off the stairs and on Sunday have enough time to finish off some fencing and the gate fence along the side of the house. That would mean, besides a few planters, everything in the front of the house will have its first coat finished! It feels amazing to see the light at the end of the tunnel (first coat anyways!). We have roughly worked a combined total of 50-55 hours so far staining the front. It`s been a huge investment in time and stain! I think we`re sitting at 7.5 gallons of Cutek used so far. This amount should have covered roughly 3000-6000 sqft so we`re a bit behind on the coverage (again though I believe it`s only due to how much the rough wood soaked up).

We spent most of Saturday prepping the top staircase for tread staining (all the stair stringers, undersides of treads since they could be seen from street level etc) and that took roughly 6 hours of fiddly work. Sunday however went rather quick as we completed all the stair treads and stained the deck platform between the two stair cases, we also stained most of the remaining fencing/gate area at the top with a small amount to finish next weekend. The 2x4`s used for the platform were incredibly quick to stain. The 2x4 wood is much smoother than anything else we have and it didn`t take much stain to cover the platform. We did however have to spend some extra time using a brush to get between the boards on the platform so that you couldn`t see unstained wood. Here are the final results of the stair staining!

We used red tape at the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent anyone from using them (yes, I would have forgotten and gone down the stairs!).  Overall the Walnut colour stayed pretty consistent between the different types of wood and the overall look is nice.

We`ve still been flip flopping between just going with a second coat of Walnut or adding in some black. The colour wasn’t bad and it had definitely grown on me. The only hesitation that I had was that it wasn’t close to any of the inspiration photos. I thought long and hard and had even decided to just go with a second coat of Walnut when I decided to see if The Deck Store had a sample size of the black. I would test the various options on a portion of fence board that would get covered and then we could be sure that we made the right decision. I called The Deck Store on Saturday and unfortunately they were out of the small samples cans of Black Ash. They did however have the regular size available and we decided to spend the money to get a full gallon of Black Ash. I thought that it would be worth the extra money so that I wouldn’t always wonder or regret the colour we ended up with.

Here are the options I talked about earlier:

  1. We go with the flow and accept that the colour is what it is and do a second coat in Walnut
  1. We stick with the Walnut stain but in the second coat we attempt to darken the colour by using 2 colourtones per 1 gallon of Cutek Extreme. It will bump up the price slightly per gallon but not by much.

The board in the middle has 2 coast of Walnut on the left and three coats of Walnut on the right (to simulate 2 colourtones used in 1 Gallon of Cutek). The board definitely darkened but the colour was still distinctly red toned.

  1. We use the Black Ash colour (mentioned way back at the start of the posts) for the second coat and go straight over the first one. I found someone on Instagram in Eastern Canada that had a similar colour issue (too red) when staining her Cedar fencing “Chestnut” and they used the Black Ash as a second coat and it turned out nice in the end but much darker than they had originally intended.

The board in the middle received a single coat of Black Ash over top of the existing first coat of Walnut. It’s OK and it definitely cut down some of the red colour from the board but it looked like a thin glaze had been added over top (you can see some of the black Ash on the post to the left) and it just “sat” ontop of the other colour. Not ideal.

  1. We mix Walnut and Black Ash together in a 1:1 ratio (Mix 1 Walnut mixed Gallon + 1 Black Ash Gallon= 2 gallons). The one thing I worried about with just using straight Black Ash was that it would look like a glaze over top of the other colour so by mixing the two into a custom colour it has the undertones of Walnut but the Black darkens the colour overall.

Both of the top boards in these photos have a 1:1 combination of Walnut and Black Ash.  The combination of these two colours ended up making a nicely dark version of the Walnut. It was still warm in tone (which I was worried about) but it was darker and it cut the red colour down significantly.

After testing all four options we finally decided that for the second coat of stain we would do a 1:1 ratio of Walnut and Black Ash. While the Walnut turned out to be a decent colour in the end we decided it wasn’t close enough to what we had initially wanted. So we’re feeling pretty good about the decision to spend the extra money to get a sample gallon of the Black Ash. We’ll now be able to use it all in the second coat.

Finishing the upper fence and gate area next weekend and hopefully starting the second coat on the retaining wall! Brooke


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme – Walnut & Black Ash
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: Aug  19, 20 & 23, 2017


I went off to The Deck Store Saturday morning to purchase more of the Black Ash. By this point I think I’ve been to the The Deck Store 4 or 5 times so the front order staff now recognizes me and knows I’m looking for Cutek. I put in my order and the staff was very quick at getting my order together so I was out the door again in 10 minutes. We didn’t work too long on Saturday but finished off the remaining fencing and gate area. Everything but a few planter boxes officially has their first coat of Cutek Extreme.  So far we’ve spent a combined total of 70 hours completing the first coat (9 Cans of Walnut Cutek) and we have made the decision to only complete the front yard this year. We still need to finish building the back property fence and given how long it’s taken to do the first coat of stain we’re want to make sure we have enough time to finish the second coat before the weather starts to turn.

Here is the side front screening completed and the gate area. The fencing you see next to the gate will be completed next year

During the week after we had given the stairs 6 days to dry before walking on them I caught a photo of how well even the first coat of Cutek Extreme protects the wood. In this photo here you can see the water beading up on the surface of the boards instead of soaking in. I was pretty surprised how much beading there was even with only one coat of stain.

Sunday morning was the start of the second coat of stain. We had decided on doing a 1:1 ration of Walnut and Black Ash and thought the best way to mix the two colours together was in a 5 gallon pail as we needed it (this would give us 2 gallons of the custom colour at a time.) After we mixed the two colours together really well with both a drill mixer and a paint stick we poured the stain back into individual 1-Gallon cans for easier transportation and use.

There was a little stain left inside the 5 gallon pail so I used it to give the second and final coat to the boards we were pre-staining before doubling up the fencing in the front yard.

Once all the pre-stained boards were complete and drying in the garage we moved back to the front yard where Kevin would finish off the first coat of Walnut on the wood planter boxes and I would start on the retaining wall second coat. Never in my life would I have thought I would be excited about stain, the second coat was absolute magic! I had really been dreading another combined 70 hours of work to complete the second coat of stain when I took the first gallon of mixed stain to start on the top right retaining wall. All of the boards used for the retaining walls are very rough cut and previously we had had to scrub the stain into the wood in order to get it fully stained. The second coat practically applied itself it was that easy to get full coverage. Not only did it go on really easily, it covered large swathes of each section with barely any stain. It went so quickly that within 1.5 hours I had both the top and middle tiers completely stained! Something that had taken us close to 123 hours to stain was done in a fraction of the time. Not only that, that same area had required 3-4 gallons of stain for the first coat and the second coat didn’t even require the entire gallon of mixed colour! It was awesome! BUT the best part is the colour! Finally the colour was a good representation of what we had pictured for the retaining wall. It has the undertones of the Walnut but it definitely leans towards black but not as much as it would have had we simply just gone with Black Ash since day one.  I really like how you still get some variation in colour and that you can still see the grain of the wood. Besides having to sand/strip all the time, one of our dislikes of solid colour stain or paint is that you lose the grain and general feel of the wood when it’s covered in a thick coat. The Mountain Pine trees that were planted on the right slope are so incredibly green in front of the darker colour and I can’t wait to plant brightly coloured flowers and tall grasses and see how they pop against the darker wood.

Here is the stain just after it was applied. The colour is darker than what it will be when it dries. Notice the colour difference between the fence and the retaining wall!

On Wednesday I took a few more photos of the new stain colour after it had dried for 72 hours. You can see that the colour dried lighter and that there’s a bit more variation in colour. You can also see some of the amazing grain that stands out from the darker stain.

The Mountain Ash still stand out bright green agaisnt the dried colour and I’m really happy with how it’s turning out.

A neighbour did ask about the new stain and seemed surprised we were going darker. The Walnut colour actually turn out to be a nice colour overall and I probably shouldn’t have worried so much about it but once you have an idea in your head about how something should look it’s hard to shake the idea. Initially the first couple years the dark colour may seem a bit much but eventually the plants will soften the effect and it should hopefully look like the inspiration retaining wall:

Next weekend I am by myself for staining but given how quickly the first 2 tiers were completed I’m really hoping to finish off all the retaining walls and maybe work on the stairs as well. Brooke


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme – Walnut & Black Ash
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: Aug 26&27 / September 2&3, 2017


Over the weekend I managed to tackle the rest of the retaining walls and stairs by myself and the weekend after we finished off the fencing at the top. With the weather starting to get a bit colder and some other interior renovations to complete we unfortunately won’t be able to stain the fencing in the backyard this year.

After the first coat where the wood just sucked up the stain the second coat is goes on amazingly fast. I’m really impressed with how little time the second coat is taking compared to the first.

I would like to note that in the above photos you see us mixing the two stain colours (Walnut & Black Ash) together with a drill mixer. DO NOT DO THIS! We learned the hard way this batch of stain left a rainbow sheen on the wood stained with this batch. Cutek does not recommend using a drill mixer and now I understand why. Thankfully we noticed what had happened on the first coat of the boards we pre-stained so they still needed to receive a second coat which covered the mistake.

The deck landing between the two sets of stairs became very slippery when it rained and one of the unexpected advantages of using Cutek is the extra grip we feel even when the water completely beads up on the surface.

Overall I am extremely happy with Cutek and would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy stain to use for their wood decks or fencing. I will be really interested to see how it holds up against our cold and snowy winters here in Calgary. I’m hoping that the colour will have a better longevity than some of the other stains on the market but even if it starts to fade I know that reapplying another coat will be easy with no stripping or sanding to do. The house will be painted in the spring and we’re planning on using the same fencing slats and Cutek to create a feature in the gable.

Before - Spring 2017 :

After - Fall 2017:

Future – Spring/Summer 2018:


Name: Brooke & Kevin
Type of Project: Wood Retaining Wall & Fence Staining
Product: Cutek Extreme – Walnut & Black Ash
Location: SW Calgary
Type of Building: 1962 Bungalow
Date: March 23, 2018


It’s been roughly 7 months since we finished staining the front retaining wall and fencing. I still love the colour and think it looks great in all the snow we’ve had this year. The stair landing has kept its extra grip that we noticed after applying the second coat which has been very helpful with shoveling the snow off the stairs. The colour so far hasn’t changed at all. Even with the all the snow we’ve had the stair treads, fencing and what we can see of the retaining walls look exactly as we left them in September. We plan on finishing off the fencing in the backyard in the spring along with staining it and the neighbour’s side of the wall/fence.

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