How to Professionally Pressure Wash Your Deck Clean
Many homes have decks, offering private outdoor space for the residents to enjoy. If you have a deck, you may wonder how to keep it clean. Most decks are made of wood, which means you can only use certain cleaning products. One of the best ways to keep your deck looking like new is to use a pressure washer. This cleaning option is a lot faster than washing it by hand. Pressure washing also removes more built-up dirt and grime.
Step 1: Get the Equipment
Before you can wash your deck, you’ll need the right pressure washer. These pieces of equipment come in all different sizes and strengths. The pressure can exceed the power from a regular garden hose by up to 80 times. Using a pressure washer set too high could destroy your deck. Choose a pressure washer with a setting of 500 pounds per square inch (psi) or lower.
If you only plan to use the pressure washer to clean the deck, it’s probably not worth buying one. Renting this piece of equipment is much cheaper. You can also rent a pressure washer for less than it would cost for professional deck cleaning.
Step 2: Prepare the Area
Before you turn on the pressure washer, make sure the area is ready. You should wear protective gear when using a pressure washer. This gear includes long pants, goggles, and closed-toe shoes. Loose clothing or jewelry could cause you to get pulled into the spray. Prepare the deck by clearing out chairs, tables, and other items. Finally, sweep any loose dirt and debris.
Step 3: Use Soap
When your deck is soiled, you might want to start with a layer of cleaner. The pressure washer you use should have a place to add soap. Make sure to use soap made for cleaning wood decks. Using any other type of soap could damage the wood.
If you want to start with soap, fill the dispenser of your pressure washer. Use the right nozzle and apply a layer on the deck. For the best coverage, make sure to use long strokes that overlap. After you finish the soap, use a stiff brush to get the cleaner between the railings and into the corners. Work fast so the cleaner doesn’t dry.
Step 4: Pressure Wash
The last step in pressure washing a deck is spraying the water. If your deck is made of soft wood such as pine or cedar, keep the pressure at about 500 psi. With harder woods, you can go a bit higher. You should never use a setting higher than 1,500 psi. Use a 40- to 60-degree fan tip or rotating tip for the best coverage. Never press the trigger when the washer is facing people or glass windows. Stand about 1-2 feet from the deck when you wash it.
Start with a small area that is less visible, such as the tread of a stair. If the pressure washer is set too high or damages the wood, it’s easier to hide or replace a small section. Check the sections you have just done as you go. If you notice any etching or other damage, lower the pressure or stop.
Work with the wood grain and spray lengthwise. Avoid spraying directly into a corner. Doing so can cause the spray to come back into your face, which is dangerous. Use long sweeps into the corners and short sweeps in the opposite direction out of the corners. Overlap each area slightly for an even clean. If you miss a section, you’ll be able to see edges.
Step 5: Apply a Protective Coating
After you finish pressure washing your deck, you might want to add some protection. Stain or clear protective coating will work well to keep it looking clean and refreshed. You can also use a different-colored stain to change the look of your deck. A darker stain can cover any imperfections in the wood. Before you apply the stain, sand your deck. When wood gets wet, the surface becomes rougher. On handrails and sections where people walk barefoot, this could cause splinters. Use 60- to 80-grit sandpaper on the deck and 100-grit sandpaper on the rails.
Solid stains are the most durable. Semi-transparent stains show more of the natural wood grain but don’t last as long outdoors. If you like the color of your deck, use a clear coating to add a layer of protection.
Pressure washing can really refresh your deck. Prep your backyard for summer entertaining by taking on this task and improving the look of your outdoor space.