Power Washing Deck Basics

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by Kyle Ray

Did you know that you can very easily cause damage to your deck by power washing a deck incorrectly? We frequently see splintered or frayed wood and chipped paint due to improper power washing. These mistakes can be incredibly costly and time-consuming to repair. Many homeowners choose to leave the power washing to power washing professionals, but you can easily learn how to do it yourself. Learn power washing techniques for a deck to enhance your deck’s appearance and maintain its usefulness. 

What Is Power Washing?

First, it’s essential to understand the concept of power or pressure washing. Power washing uses pressurized water to remove dirt, grime, and other difficult-to-remove residues from hard surfaces. Machines called power washers to perform this task; you may also see these machines called pressure washers. These devices have a power cord to plug into a close and safe power source and a hose that attaches to a water faucet. By adding pressure to your water source, power washing makes it possible to remove even the most difficult debris from surfaces without the need for harsh chemicals.

When to Power Wash Your Deck

A prevailing mistake made by homeowners involves prematurely power washing their decks. Power washers are quick and effective for deep cleaning decks; however, because power washers are so powerful, power washing should only be done once every few years to avoid damage to wood surfaces. We advise that you try to clean a deck with a simple deck cleaning solution that you can rinse off with a regular water hose before deciding whether the power washer is the best choice for your deck. If you find that the deck cleaning solution does not remove dirt, mold, or mildew buildup, the power washer might be better for the project.

Power washing is a must if you plan on painting or staining your deck. Power washing will ensure that you won’t paint over dirt that can easily chip away, prepare the deck’s wood to absorb stains and paints, and ensure that the color lasts longer. 

Preparing Your Deck for Power Washing

After you’ve assessed the conditions of your deck and decided to power wash it, your next step is to prepare your deck. Remove all furniture and sweep away all leaves and debris for quick and hassle-free power washing. We advise you to scrub your wood deck before picking up the power washer to get rid of easy-to-remove dirt and avoid over-exposing your wood to the high pressure of the power washer. 

Some models of power washers have a container you can use to distribute soap over the deck efficiently. You can then use a scrubbing brush and massage the soap into any deep stains. By scrubbing the stains, you will loosen all stubborn dirt and grime, making it easier for the power washer to do its job. 

Choose the Right Sprayer Head

Your power washer will come with several different nozzle heads. Each nozzle will work differently by controlling the power behind the stream of water and determining the water stream’s shape. Your power washer should come with a manual with descriptions of and uses for each nozzle. For general wood cleaning, a fan tip can cover more area in a shorter time. If you’re unsure which spray nozzle to use, the fan tip will be the nozzle with the broadest reach. 

Familiarize Yourself With the Power Washer

Remember, it’s easy to ruin wood with a power washer. We encourage you to take the time and familiarize yourself with your power washer before taking it straight to your deck. Practice on a piece of your deck that’s not visible, preferably a part of the stairs or an area usually covered up; this way, you can learn how the sprayer works and find the most comfortable way to operate the machine. 

Test your ability to quickly release the pressure of the nozzle and experiment with the right amount of force to place on the pressure trigger. Practice makes perfect. The more time you spend with your power washer, the less likely you will make mistakes and risk ruining your deck. The more you familiarize yourself with a power washer, the more home projects, such as deck maintenance, you’ll be able to take on. You can easily bring windows back to life with a quick rinse from a power washer.

Power Washing Your Deck

Now that you’ve properly prepped your deck and took some extra time to become acquainted with your power washer, it’s time to tackle the deck. Holding the pressure washer so that its nozzle is approximately 2 feet away from the wood, slowly squeeze the pressure trigger until you’ve found the right amount of pressure you are comfortable with using. Then, move the nozzle in a side-to-side sweeping motion, slowly bringing the nozzle closer to the wood until it is about 18 inches to a foot away. Always sweep the nozzle in the direction of the wood grain to prevent creating unsightly lines in the wood. 

One piece of wood at a time, continue sweeping the nozzle 18 inches to a foot from the wood until you have washed all cleaning solution and all dirt and grime from the deck. If you have a large deck, you may find it easier to chunk it into sections so one part of the deck can start drying while you work on other portions. After finishing each section, allow your deck to dry for 24 hours. 

After 24 hours, inspect your deck for any spots you may have missed. You may also find areas where the power washer has left harsh lines in the wood grain. Don’t worry. Now that you have mastered the art of power washing, you can make quick and easy touch-ups like a pro.

Learn more about the value of pressure washing to enhance your Houston home’s value with Geek Window Cleaning.