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Pressure Wash Decks and Fences

Pressure washing a deck or fence is much more manageable and efficient than scrubbing by hand. These tips will get your cleaning project started.

Pressure Washing.

Cleaning with a Pressure Washer

Different models of pressure washers have different capabilities. Read the documentation that came with your pressure washer before beginning any cleaning task to make sure your model is appropriate for the job.

Some general tips for cleaning decks and fences are below, but always follow your pressure washer manufacturer's instructions for use, maintenance and safety.

Preparation

Before you begin, get the work area ready:

  • Remove any obstacles from the work area to prevent tripping and tangling hoses.
  • Cover nearby plants, electrical components and light fixtures.
  • Sweep away loose debris.
  • Close nearby windows and doors.

You also need to make sure you have a suitable location for your pressure washer while you're cleaning. Take prevailing winds and air currents into account.

Determine the recommended spray pattern and / or spray tip for the job. This information should be in your pressure washer manual. You'll use different settings for applying the cleaner and for the actual high-pressure cleaning.

Caution

Do not run a gasoline-powered pressure washer indoors or in an area that does not have proper ventilation. Keep the engine exhaust away from occupied areas.

Pressure Washer Safety

Read and follow all of the manufacturer's safety instructions for your pressure washer. General guidelines include:

  • Know how to quickly turn off the pressure washer and release pressure from the system.
  • Operate a pressure washer only when you're on a stable surface where you have good balance and solid footing.
  • Never leave a spray gun or wand unattended while the pressure washer is running.
  • Always be aware of where you're directing the pressure washer spray.
  • When using a pressure washer, or when in the vicinity of one that is in use, always wear the eye protection specified by the manufacturer.
  • Never point a pressure washer spray gun or wand at people, animals or plants.
  • When using cleaning chemicals, always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Cleaning with a Pressure Washer

Follow the pressure washer manufacturer's instructions on the type of wood cleaner to use and the distance the spray tip should be from the surface you're cleaning. For the best results, test the spray pattern and distance on an inconspicuous area of the deck or fence before cleaning. Also, test the high-pressure spray on a hidden area to make sure the setting does not damage the surface.

Applying the Cleaner

  • Apply a wood cleaner formulated for pressure washers using a low-pressure soap nozzle.
  • Apply the detergent from bottom to top on railings and fences.
  • Use a utility brush to scrub the solution in tight corners and between deck balusters.
  • Apply the cleaning solution, covering the width of a few boards with each pass.
  • Use a rotating scrub brush attachment for dirty or stained spots.
  • Don't work on surfaces that are hot or that are in direct sunlight.
  • Allow detergent to remain on the surface you're cleaning for the time specified by the manufacturer.
  • Don't allow the detergent to dry on the surface.
  • Once you have finished applying the cleaner, follow the pressure washer manufacturer's instructions to flush the cleaner from the system.

Spraying Off the Cleaner

  • Work with the grain of the wood to spray the detergent off of the deck or fence.
  • When rinsing the railings or fences, start at the top and work down to prevent streaks. Use overlapping passes for more even cleaning.

After you've sprayed off the cleaner, let the deck or fence dry for 48 hours. Apply a stain or sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once you've completed your cleaning project, follow the pressure washer manufacturer's instructions for relieving water pressure, removing liquid from the pump and proper storage.

Caution

Do not operate the pressure washer pump without the water supply connected and turned on. Your manual may specify letting the pressure washer rest after every few minutes of use.