What the Deck!

This pot is home to a deceased Saw Palmetto and a few birdhouse gourd plants.

Alternately titled: Deck the Deck.

We knew our new rental house needed work and that the landlord wouldn’t do it, so we are fixing it up and sending the bills to the landlord. This may seem unjust to you, but the rent is cheap and we are used to this dynamic.

Yesterday was new deck day. When we first looked at the house, I thought, “That deck is really filthy. Eh, I can live with that.”

After a one month of record rainfall, I thought, “Yikes, the deck is gross.” After the second month of record rainfall, I thought, “Dear lord, the deck is a hazard to humans and all other life forms which are not algae and mold or otherwise dependent on algae and mold to survive.”

It became clear it was time for a massacre of algaeic proportions. Because the high yesterday was 95 degrees (in MAY !!) I decided it would be a good day to spend spraying water. I asked the internet how to clean a deck and it said that 1. You must NEVER put bleach on a deck and also 2. It is ok to put diluted bleach on a deck.  As a renter who generally rents cheap, elderly homes, my attitude when doing home repair work is something like, “I will do the best, because I have pride in my work, but eh, that looks expensive and time-consuming and I don’t own this place.”

I did try the non-toxic, wood friendly detergent route, however, after reading that the ingredients in deck scrubbers are similar to many laundry detergents. But, our hippy-dippy practically drinkable laundry detergent contains nothing more toxic than sunshine and laughter, so all they managed to do was mix with the algae to create a substance so lethally slippery, I considered selling the formula on ebay as an assassination plot.

Like many people, I have difficulty choosing between what is good for the planet and the survival of amphibians and what will make my deck less repulsively slimy with the least amount of scrubbing. Yesterday, the latter won. So, my options were then to walk to the store and spend money on a toxic cleaner, or to walk to the bathroom and get the bleach.

For a person who types and talks on the phone and sometimes sews quilts for a living, I have done a lot of dirty jobs. For example, I have lived in flood zones, so I have mucked out basements and crawl spaces after floods. That is dirty, gross work. I once slid down a rainy Norwegian hill covered in llama shit.  That was seriously foul. I’m pretty sure though, that cleaning this deck was one of the muckiest things I have ever done. As I was finishing up, a neighbor came by to introduce himself and we chatted for a while (his roommate had his car broken into! Oh no!). I later looked in the mirror and realized my entire upper body was covered with flecks of algae and streaks of mud and regretted shaking the poor man’s hand.

BUT – five hours of scrubbing the deck, a half hour of scrubbing myself, and 12 hours of drying later, my deck looks merely in need of a good wash. Victory! I have to let it dry for two days, then I am going to the Habitat Re-Store to get some used deck stain.

Deck Cleaning Tutorial:

1. Apply sunscreen. You’re going to be out here for a while.

2. Spray down deck. Sprinkle laundry soap over it. Let soak for 10 minutes. Attempt to scrub, but instead slide around a lot. Optional: film yourself falling and put it on youtube and make a lot of money.

3. Spray down deck again. Splash a dilution of bleach (one glug per bucket) over the deck. Let it soak 10 minutes. Push it around with a stiff broom as per internet tutorial. Realize that it’s only getting the top layer of guck out of the boards.

4. Spray down deck again. Splash a dilution of bleach (two glugs per bucket). Go inside and write a blog about cleaning the deck while it soaks. Sit down on the porch and scrub using a plastic broom type brush, but not wire, geez. Rinse off every foot or so because you are getting so much crap out of the deck it is necessary. Rinse again.

5. Shower for a half hour-one hour. Sit on the clean deck and (optional) drink a homebrew.

6. Let dry for 2-3 days, apply stain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *