The Cross House

Ceiling Cooties

I posted this image the other day to show off the new porch railing. But, if you can tear your eyes away from the delectable railing, look up. And, as you will note, my porch ceiling has cooties.


The wood ceiling is splotched with mold or mildew or something.

I’ve never done anything with it yet, and just presumed the mold is seeped into the wood. How to remove it? This has been the big stumbling block. Plus, it seems like a horrible job even if I knew how to proceed.

This morning though Bethany inquired about what color I was going to paint the porch ceilings (there are four porches, and I will paint the ceilings in the original very pale olive), and this got me to sorta thinking about the porch ceilings.

My mind thought: what if you just got up on a ladder to see if bleach worked on the cooties? 


Well I’ll be damned.


Bleach worked wonders.

Rather then the mold/mildew/whatever having seeped into the wood, it is just a thin layer sitting on the paint.


I misted the dark spots, let them soak for a few minutes, and then wiped with a bleach soaked rag. The cooties instantly vanished.


The area above took about 15 minutes.

Should I just do a small area every day, and in time get it all done?

Ot should I hire somebody to do it all in a day? I much prefer this. But who? Who would be properly fussy?





13 Responses to Ceiling Cooties

  1. I ran into a similar issue when I was rehabbing my porch ceiling. I hosed the ceiling down to knock off the loose crud, then used a strong detergent, a stiff deck brush on an extension pole, and a lot of elbow grease to clean it. After the rise, it was time to use a good oil based primer and an acrylic top coat. It helps to ask the paint store to put some extra mildewcide in the new paint to prevent recurrance. If it were me, I would not piecemeal the job. Partially done jobs nag at me like sore tooth so for my own peace of mind, I’d have to get it done quickly. As far as hiring someone, typically I save the green tool for jobs that I lack the skills and tools to do safely. I guess the pale green was pretty typical of porch ceilings. When I scratched down to the first layer of paint on our porch ceiling (1895) I found a pale green as well. I returned ours to it’s original colour too.

  2. Being so close to a state university makes me wonder if there are young strong backs and legs who might be interested in earning a little extra cash for performing such work? And if posted near appropriate classes of studies, one might find a student of architecture or design who would be interested in learning a bit about an old house and its structure and design?

  3. I use Clorox Cleanup for such jobs– in a garden sprayer. Spray it on liberally, let it sit for half an hour. Brush with a wet, soft broom, then spray/rinse with the garden hose. Do it all at once… Or each porch individually. Wear an old raincoat (or garbage bag and shower cap!!

  4. Yeah I second doing this yourself – unless you can hire someone unskilled to do it cheap. My parents had mildew in the siding on their porch and I think we got it off faster with a scrub brush with diluted bleach and just a bit of dish soap. And I think the Sherwin Williams exterior paints come standard with mildewcide in them. You’ll definitely need that.

  5. Mr. Ross,
    I found your blog via OHD. I’ve spent the last week voraciously reading the entirety of your blog posts. I really enjoy your writing voice and your unflagging pragmatic optimism.

    Please forgive me for being overly forward: if you ever have a need for free (unskilled) labor, I’d be more than happy to come out from Abilene to lend a hand. I’d imagine that other local friends of The Cross House would do so as well.

    H. Amber Acosta-Doucette
    near Abilene, Kansas

    • Thanks for the kind words, Amber!

      Let me know when you can come to Emporia. I will give you the grand tour! Then later put you to work!

    • I thought about a power washer but am worried about getting a bunch of water in the attic of the porch, and then having the wood ceiling warp.

      • Summer time! Do it early morning and let the afternoon heat dry it. One day! Oh and power washers have adjustable pressure, so you wouldn’t have to worry about pushing tons of water into the attic. Just enough pressure to scour the loose paint and mildew out. It also helps if you have certain other spaces to do…like the back porch steps or so. But definitely high summer for the heat. Let’s be green, use what Mother Nature gives us.

  6. Actually, bleach is probably the last thing that should be used for mold *on porous surfaces*. It can actually contribute to future mold growth. The chlorine will kill the mold on the surface, but because wood is porous, the mold grows much deeper into the wood. The water portion of the bleach WILL penetrate the wood pores, creating? That’s right! More mold. Next time, use borax. 😉

Leave a Response

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.