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Pressure Wash Decks and Fences

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

Pressure Washing.

Tools & Materials

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Preparation

Before you begin, get the work area ready:

  • Remove any obstacles to prevent tripping and tangling hoses.
  • Cover nearby plants, electrical components and light fixtures.
  • Sweep away loose debris.
  • Close nearby windows and doors.
  • Keep your pressure washer is a safe area while you clean. 
  • Pay attention to the wind direction.
  • Check your owner's manual to determine the proper spray pattern and spray tip for the job. 
  • You'll use different settings for applying cleaning chemicals than you will for 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.

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 hidden 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.
  • 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 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 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, 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 before applying a stain or sealer.
  • Follow the 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.

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.