How to Clean a Wood Deck


MY FRIEND LULA is extremely capable and extremely determined. Unlike myself, she’s not afraid of power tools, and no home-improvement project seems to daunt her (she’s been shingling her house herself, below, over a period of two years).


So when she offered to clean my front deck in exchange for a few days lodging at my cottage in Springs, N.Y. (hers is rented out), I said, “Hell, yeah.” This little deck has been black and grimy since I moved in two years ago, and gets slick when it rains. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had never been cleaned at all, or at least not in decades.


I had made one fairly ineffective pass over it a few weeks ago, as seen in the foreground, above; so the photo doesn’t even show it at its worst. Lula got down on hands and knees with a stiff scrub brush and a mixture of TSP heavy-duty cleaner and Clorox in hot water; let it sit for a good few minutes to kill mildew, and then rinsed with hot water. You can see the difference between her job and mine.

The cedar shingles on the house, too, could benefit by the same treatment, but that’s trickier, as they’re vertical and grooved. I’ve been resisting power-washing for fear that forceful treatment could have unintended consequences: lifting the shingles off, causing leaks, damaging the plantings around the house.

Meanwhile, the front deck is getting clean. One small step for woman…

That Deck Again: The Finished Product


INDULGE ME ONE LAST POST about my new deck, and then we’ll move on to other topics. The job is done as of this afternoon — it took 3-1/2 days, and I think the builders did a stellar job. Grateful shout-out, too, to my architect friend, Jifat Windmiller, who conceived the deck plan for me. (To see the horrifying “before” pictures of just a week ago, go here.)


When Jifat stopped by this evening to see it, she was surprised that the half-moon doors, which now form the entrance to the shower stall from the inside of the platform, weren’t used as a wall facing toward the backyard. That’s how she envisioned it, but we’d kind of left that up in the air. I thought I could handle that bit myself; I designed the shower enclosure in about 15 minutes and sketched something up for the builders. Now Jifat finds that big square outer wall “too solid” and wants me to cut a hole in it, or a matching half-circle. Hmmmph.


We shall see. I like being sheltered in the shower by nearby trees and don’t care that there’s no direct view of the woods from the shower itself. The square wall of cedar looks pleasingly Japanese to me. But the truth is, I see her point. It’s mostly it’s that I don’t want to call the builders back here for minor tweaks that could be costly.

There’s still a lot to do in terms of landscaping around the new deck, and I’m raring to move ahead on the bathroom reno. But right now I’m savoring this accomplishment, at least for a few days.

One more day of guesses on the cost of the deck, and then I’ll reveal the magic number. For a chance to win a copy of the 1970s-vintage book, East Hampton: A History and Guide, send along your best guess in the comments on this post or either of the two preceding deck-related posts.