man pressure washing wooden deckPressure washers can make tackling tough dirt or large surfaces a breeze. They provide a thorough cleaning in a fraction of the time it would take to manually wash something. One of the most common residential uses of a pressure washer is for cleaning a wooden deck. Many homeowners know the annoying feeling of looking out at their beautiful deck and seeing that it’s covered in mud, dust, or dirt. If you’re looking to give your wooden porch a good cleaning but aren’t sure where to start, read on!

Steps for Pressure Washing a Deck

First, there are many different types of cleaners or detergents you can use for a deep clean, but the right one will depend on the deck material. To ensure that the soap you’re using won’t react poorly with the wood type, check the manufacturer’s notes on the label. If you are in fact applying a cleaning detergent or scrubbed your deck beforehand, a pressure washer can be a way to efficiently rinse your deck to remove the cleaner and dirt from the surface.

There are a few things you should know before diving in. First, keep in mind that less is more when it comes to pressure washing a wooden surface. Too high of pressure settings can damage the deck, causing etching, stripping, or even spraying holes right through it. A good rule of thumb is to use the lowest setting possible while still getting an effective clean.
It is very rare that you’ll need a pressure higher than 1200 PSI – for softer types of wood, you’ll want to keep pressure on the low side. Start at 600 PSI to see if that is adequate and then move up from there.

Distance matters too. Generally, you don’t want to get closer than a foot away from the deck as you’re cleaning it. A distance of 12 to 24 inches will be sufficient with the correct settings.

When you initially start the pressure washer, have it aimed away from the surface you’re cleaning in case it pushes the water too forcefully (also avoid pointing the nozzle at people or windows). Test the pressure on an inconspicuous area of the deck first so if it causes damage it will be unnoticeable or easy to replace.

Once you have the proper pressure settings in place, you can start washing. Work from the corner out, starting at the house and working away from it. No one wants to trap themselves in a corner while cleaning! Use a sweeping motion to clean the surface so your distance stays consistent. This is easily done by moving your arm back and forth horizontally. Feather the sprays so they slightly overlap as you move across the length of the board, and always clean in the direction of the grain.

If you’re renting a pressure washer, you can always ask the cleaning professional who can help you with advice. Chances are, they’ve used a pressure washer on every type of surface.