We talked a little in another post about the proper way to use pressure washing equipment to wash a deck, but we didn’t go into many details. Here we are going into a little more detail on the proper way to power wash your deck.
I recall the first time I discovered a pressure washer, I thought it was the coolest thing and set out to wash everything in my neighborhood! One thing I found out is that a pressure washer can seriously damage wood, as in my friend’s wood fence!
There are just as many cleaning solutions for decks as there are types of sprayers, so chose the one best suited for your needs. Remember there are different kinds, cleaning solutions (detergents), bleaches, and chemicals. So check with your local hardware store or where you rent your pressure washer to determine which solution is best for your project. Moreover, always be sure to read the label for proper mixing and handling. Always remember the basics of pressure washing in that the process is a mixture of water, heat, and detergents/cleaners so let the process work for you. Do not just try to power everything off with water pressure, let the cleaner do its job! One product which I've used and like is the Karcher Pressure Washer Deck SoapPac This comes in 12 pack pouches which are easy because you just throw them in your bucket and they dissolve.
Let us now look at pressure. A good rule of thumb for PSI levels when power washing a deck or wood is no more than 1500 PSI (pounds per square inch). Although, always be cautions however because even this pressure can damage soft wood. When spraying wood, you want a fan width to be 40 to 60 degree’s which means you’ll want a 40’ or 60’ degree tip. Always start the sprayer with the tip facing away from the wood and move in to the surface. Do not start with the tip directly on or near the surface.
Most often the process of cleaning and pressure washing your deck will require scrubbing; usually with some type of cleaning agent. It is a good idea to use a brush made with synthetic bristles. Just like with other cleaning agents, some chemicals will eat away at the bristles of the brush and cause more of a mess than you started with. Again, read the instructions for the cleaning agent to be sure you are applying it correctly. Some cleaning solutions can damage your deck if you allow them to dry, so always have a hose handy to wet the deck down while brushing and applying the cleaner.
When spraying the deck, sweep from side to side and use a feathering technique. This is similar to power spray paining. You will notice that you can tell where you have started and stopped pressure washing; the wood will have a different color. Feathering is one technique to avoid this by overlapping the area you previously covered. Start each stroke with the pressure washer nozzle just before the end of the previous stroke. Always go with grain of the wood also to get the best results.
This is a quick overview of how to power or pressure wash your deck. We touched on the “feathering” technique but there are many other techniques for spray patterns. We will go over some others in up and coming posts. Stay tuned for those!