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The Home Depot

Handy Guide to Pressure Washing Your Deck

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Pressure Washing > Handy Guide to Pressure Washing Your Deck
Handy Guide to Pressure Washing Your Deck

Cleaning your deck has a good side and a bad side. The good side is that by using a pressure washer, you can rid the wood of grime and other strange substances that have made the lumber their home.


The bad side is that you can do a number on your deck if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you have the wrong nozzle on the wand, get the tip too close to the wood or crank the machine up-to full-blast, you stand to destroy your deck.


Those folks who get a power washer from a local rental business can secure a unit that can crank-out well over 4-thousand pounds per square inch of pressure. At that rate, you can literally create your own Mount Rushmore on a brick.


To make sure you don’t turn your deck into a mound of toothpicks, here are a few tips as to how you can handle the job safely, quickly and without causing costly damage.

    Those folks who get a power washer from a local rental business can secure a unit that can crank-out well over 4-thousand pounds per square inch of pressure.
  1. 1.Nozzle and Tip

    We already mentioned how powerful this apparatus can be. That just means you’ll need to choose a couple of things. Let’s start with the nozzle or the tip. To clean soft woods like pine or cedar, attach a fan tip with a 40-to-60 degree output. This maximizes the area that you’ll cover and spreads-out the degree of pressure over a larger surface.


    As for pressure, you’re only going to need about 700 psi of power. You should never ramp-up the washer higher than 1200 psi. Bottom line, start low, only applying more pressure if you truly need it.


    When you press the trigger, don’t aim it at a window or the kids. Start out about 2-feet above the wood surface, slowly closing in to around 16-inches from the deck. If you’re a foot-or-closer to the wood, pull up, pilot!


    Smart move would be to try out things on a part of your deck that’s a little out-of-the-way. In case you make any mistakes, no one will notice what you screw up if they can’t see it.

  2. 2.Technique

    Begin at the 600 psi level. You can always increase the pressure, but start low. Squeeze the trigger a few feet from the surface. Slowly lower the wand until you get to the sweet-spot of 16-inches. Sweep the arm back-and-forth. Notice what’s happening and pay attention. You may have to adjust the pressure depending on the results.


    Be consistent with your sweeping motion. Start at your home’s foundation and move away from the house. Don’t go against the grain.

  4. 3.Wood Fibers

    When lumber gets wet, the fibers rise to the occasion. You don’t want to create splinters when pressure washing your deck. To eliminate this from happening, get ready to sand.


    • Use an orbital sander that has a 5-inch pad


    • On the surface and handrails, stroke the wood with an 80-grit sand paper


    Sanding the finished deck serves a couple of purposes. It will make the lumber more porous so that the stain and sealer will soak into the grain.


    But the best part is that it will make things more feet-and-hand-friendly. No one likes to pick slivers out of their heels.

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