Simple Steps to Pressure-Wash a Wood Deck

Pressure Washing Your Wood Decks 

A power washer is a very handy tool for your household. It is used to clean various things such as cars, curbs, decks, and many more. It works by using water pressure to thoroughly clean deep-seated dirt, mold, grime, dust, mud, and even loose paint. This is the reason why many people choose it as an effective tool for cleaning their wood decks. 

Cleaning your wood decks by simply brushing, applying a chemical deck brightener, or refinishing alone are not effective for deep cleaning compared to using a power washer. Power washers can clean your decks effectively just by using the combination of pressure and plain water. However, if not used properly, it can ruin your decks with just one blast.

Power washers are very powerful that they can even etch bricks. But, with proper handling, it can even clean and wash your sidings. Below are simple steps to help you pressure wash you decks properly and easily.


Steps to Follow:

1. Choose a Tip and Pressure Setting

Before you start power washing your decks, make sure to choose the right spray tip and pressure setting for your decks. Here are some recommendations:

  • First set your pressure to the lowest setting on the apparatus as this is still effective for cleaning. This will prevent any damages that can happen on the surface when you use it. 
  • For softwood, such as cedar or pine,  set the pressure level to 500 to 600 pounds per square inch (psi). However, if you have a hardwood, you can first try also a low setting then slowly increase for hard to remove stains.
  • The ideal tip to use is a fan tip or a rotating tip.

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2. Start Power washing your deck

Once you have set the pressure setting in place, preferably 500 to 600 pounds per square inch (psi), you can then start power washing your wood decks. Slowly increase the pressure when needed to clean the deck without etching or damaging the surface area. 

To use the power washer, push the trigger while also holding the wand tip a few feet away from the deck surface. Make sure not to get closer more than 6 inches or it will cause damage to your wood. Use a sweeping motion to clean the deck. Avoid doing a pivot motion with your arm as this will create inconsistent distance between the deck surface and the spray tip.

Next, work your way from the deck boards outside your house. Use the grain by feathering it lengthwise to the deck boards and slightly overlaps each area. Your goal is to accomplish an evenly clean deck with visible clean edges and no “hot spots”.


3. Use a Chemical Stripper/Brightener

This is an optional step as it is recommended for wood decks that are darkened or are stained with mildew. Using a chemical solution that contains sodium hydroxide will help brighten the area. Keep in mind to first make sure that your power washer has the ability to intake a chemical solution inside. Also, search for a cleaning solution that is made for deck cleaning. 

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you are mixing the solution. Then apply the solution the same way you apply water with the pressure washer. You can then rinse it off by just using plain water. Cleaning solutions tend to make the wood fiber rough hence why you need to sand the deck before restaining it. 


4. Sanding

The last part of the process is sanding your deck. Power washing your deck will effectively clean it and will not cause any damage to the surface when done properly. However, the water can make the fibers of the wood raised hence creates a rough surface. This is a common problem on the deck’s handrails wherein the rough surfaces if not treated can lead to splinters.

Sanding will make your deck smooth and finished. To start, make sure that the deck is completely dry. Make sure not to use fine sandpaper as it will block the pores of the wood hence prevent the sealer to be absorb. The ideal sandpaper grit to use for handrails is 100 while a 60- to 80-grit sandpaper is fine to use for deck surfaces.