Cleaning the awful decking: estimating the time required

I was hoping that our inherited and terrible decking would hold out for one last season without being cleaned, and then I could tear it up. But it was starting to turn into an ice rink, and so the Welsh rose’s father has lent me a power-washer.

A bit of spraying made clear just how dirty the decking was:


The sprayed wood was also much easier to walk on without slipping, so I reluctantly decided to do a fair bit more:


I focussed on the steps, and part of the lowest decking that’s always in use, as owing to hazard and risk respectively these are the most dangerous bits. All told, cleaning the two or three square metres that are noticeably a different colour in that photo took me some forty minutes, including setup time and working out how the spray works.

In the same way as I previously calculated that the privet would be too tough for me to remove, I used this initial trial as a way to get some idea of how long it would take to clean the rest of the decking:

  • Lower (backdoor) deck: 1–1.5hr
  • Patio deck: 1.5–2hr
  • Upper (plants) deck: 2hr?

If I were to clean all of the decking at once, then, it could take me a good five or six hours. I might resent that, given I don’t even want the decking in the garden! But cleaning the lower deck felt like an easily achievable aim, and hopefully that plus a couple of “walking strips” across the other two decks might last us the winter.

Here’s the result:


The whole lower deck is now remarkably cleaner and less slippy, although in places the deck was so rotten that it began to flake and I could smell pine. If I cared about the wood, I’d probably paint it with a preservative now. But the long-term plan is to remove it, so it’s probably not worth the extra effort.

Otherwise, the results feel very satisfactory: it took me a bit over an hour, and might just prevent a broken neck this winter!


  1. Julieanne · October 22, 2016

    Proving once again that decking is not an easy option as people thing. It requires work to maintain, and money to hire the power washer, if you don’t have someone who can lend you one. Sounds like you cleaned the important bits!


    • jpstacey · October 28, 2016

      Yeah, I think if you actually like decking, and therefore take care of it, then maybe it’s a better surface: you preserve it, so it doesn’t get as slippery as quickly. But if it wasn’t what you would have wished for in the first place, you neglect it and it just gets worse. We’ll be glad to be rid!


  2. Pingback: The apple tree is gone | The next square metre

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