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How to Power Wash a Deck: Cleaning Strategies

How To Power Wash A Deck?

The best time to pressure wash your deck is after the fall and before the spring.

This way, you’ll be able to clean off all of the dirt and grime that accumulated throughout winter without worrying about any pesky moss or mold growth. It’s also a good idea to wait until summer has passed. So you can remove any unwanted spiders, insects, or other pests that might have taken up residence during those hot months.

Not only will this help keep your deck looking nice for years to come, but it will also prevent these unwelcome guests from coming back next year!

Is It Safe to Power Wash a Deck?

It’s pretty alright to pressure wash a deck, as long as you follow the necessary precautions. However, you risk injuring the decking if you use a pressure washer with a PSI more significant than 1500. Scratching, splintering, or breaking may occur as a result of this.

For softwoods like cedar or pine, the optimum PSI for your deck is 500-600. For harder woods, you could go higher but not beyond 1200 PSI.

Set up and test

Choose a Pressure and Tip Setting

If your deck is filthy, you’ll need to use a pressure setting that’s high enough to blast away at the dirt. For light cleaning, use a lower setting.

Use the least amount of force that is still effective. For example, softwood (like cedar or pine) should be pressurized to a minimum of 500 to 600 psi; harder woods may tolerate more pressure, but it’s unwise to go past 1,200 psi.

Select a Tip: if your deck is heavily stained with mold, mildew, or grime, you might want to consider using a brush tip for more thorough coverage. A fan tip with a 40- to 60-degree spread is ideal. A rotating tip may also be used if handled correctly.

Examine the Pressure Washer Settings

The other important part of pressure washing your deck is the setting to clean it. You may need to adjust the pressure if the build-up is light or heavy, depending on what you’re cleaning off.

Begin with 500 to 600 psi pressure. Then, increase the pressure gradually until you identify the ideal cleaning pressure.

How To Power Wash A Deck

Here are some steps you can take to ensure your deck is power washed correctly every time.

Wash the Railings

Pressure wash the railings using a stripper. Start at the top and work your way down, keeping the tip 6 to 10 inches away from the wood. Spray balusters positioned at the corners to clean two sides simultaneously.

Power Wash the Deck

To make sure your deck is as clean as possible, you’ll need to invest in a good pressure washer. It’s essential to make sure that the power of the pressure release is high enough for this job.

If you need a light cleaning, it’s probably best to use a lower setting. However, you will want to use a higher setting for really dirty decks that have been collecting mold, mildew, and grime for a long time.

It’s always a good idea to work on one section of your deck at a time so you don’t accidentally spread dirt from one area onto another.

Ensure that the correct type of tip is being used with your power washer- if it needs heavy.

Remove any debris from the gaps between deck boards

With a putty knife, dig out trapped debris between deck boards. Then, spray the deck with a combination of oxalic acid and water to brighten it up.

Apply the stripper to the deck. Start with the top rails and work down the balusters. Use a 25- or 30-degree tip on the pressure washer’s wand and a PSI of 1,000 to 1,200. Spray the rails in a continuous, organized manner with the wand. You don’t want to scratch the wood by moving too quickly.

Start with the deck boards once you’ve completed the railings. First, wash down the length of the boards. Then wash the grime away from the wood.

Rather than increasing the pressure or heavily scrubbing the wood, go over stubborn mildew or other marks a few times. Later, we’ll deal with hard stains that won’t come off with the stripper.

The lignin removal in this stripping process washes away a tiny amount of the wood’s glue, which binds the wood fibers together. As a result, the fibers stand up as the lignin washes away, giving the wood a fuzzy texture. Don’t bother sanding the fuzzy fibers. They will eventually shear away, leaving only the smooth ones.

After you’ve finished power-washing the whole deck, rinse all of the wood with plain water to remove any remaining stripper. Next, remove any debris trapped between deck boards, such as leaves or twigs, now if there is still any.

Apply a Chemical Stripper/Brightener (Optional)

Stains are not the only reason to clean your deck. Deck surfaces can also get dark, dull, or moldy over time despite regular cleaning. If this is the case, you may want to consider applying a chemical stripper/brightener. The wood will need to be left to dry for several hours before being ready for staining.

Examine the whole deck and repair any loose boards

Remove any nails or screws that may be sticking out. Replace any missing or loose fasteners with longer screws at least 1/2″ longer than the original. It’s simple to identify areas that require more attention when the deck is clean. Remove any nail heads that are emerging from the deck boards. Look for missing or loose screws and replace them with corrosion-resistant screws that are a little longer than the original. Replace rusted or missing nails with corrosion-resistant “trim head” screws, which have a considerable finish nail appearance and are tiny.

Check for loose lag screws or bolts in your ledger board, rails, or posts. Also, look for any indications that the flashing between your deck and house has fallen out of place. 

Recommended Deck Stripper/Brightener

Last update on 2021-12-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2021-12-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2021-12-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2021-12-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2021-12-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2022-01-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sanding After Washing

After you’ve pressure washed your deck, it’s important to sand it down before staining. Make sure you do this carefully not to damage the wood or remove any applied stains. You might want to wear a mask and goggles if there are any chemicals involved in the process and wear gloves and long sleeves.

Take care when sanding. Don’t use too much pressure on anyone’s area. And be careful to hold the sander at a 45-degree angle with alternating horizontal and vertical motions for best results.

When sanding, use only medium sandpaper. Do not use fantastic sandpaper since it might clog the wood’s pores and prevent the stain/sealer from swiftly soaking in. Use no finer than 100-grit sandpaper on the handrail. 60- to 80-grit sandpaper is ideal for a wooden deck’s surface.

Recommend sander

Last update on 2021-12-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2021-12-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pressure Washer Safety

  • Spray the water until you find a power level that works for you.
  • You should not aim the wand at anything you don’t want to spray.
  • Cover the exposed electrical outlets.
  • Wear the appropriate safety equipment and clothing. Boots and gloves made of rubber will keep your hands and feet safe. Goggles, a disposable respirator or dust mask, and gloves will protect your eyes from the chemicals while keeping them from splashing into them.
  • Keep the pressure washer’s exhaust at least 3 feet away from anything, especially your home.

Wrap Up – How To Power Wash A Deck

Pressure washing your deck is a great way to keep it looking clean and presentable. The best time to pressure wash your deck is after the fall and before the spring, when fewer bugs, insects, or other pests might come in contact with you while working on this project.

Related Articles: 

1. Clean Your Outdoor Patio Furniture With A Pressure Washer

2. Clean A Wood Fence With A Pressure Washer

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Brett Tyler

Brett Tyler

I’m Brett Tyler, an entrepreneur, but more importantly (well, to me at least), a tool head. I’m passionate about all sorts of machines and how they work – it’s in my blood.

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