How to Pressure Wash a Deck

Routine pressure washing will keep your deck free of dirt accumulation, loosen leaves and other debris lodged between boards, and preserve the deck's beauty and safety. In addition to posing a slipping hazard as they disintegrate, leaves and other debris can trap moisture that encourages rot, necessitating the premature replacement of deck boards.


At least once a year, you should pressure wash your deck to eliminate algae and mildew and avoid other conditions that might damage your deck.

Before putting any stain or sealant to a wooden deck, it should be pressure-washed. This will improve the adhesion of the stain and/or sealant to the deck boards and prolong their protection from the weather.


Read more: How to Replace Deck Boards & Repair Your Deck


The cost to hire a pressure washer is roughly $50 per day, which is definitely worth it. In the end, proper pressure cleaning will add years to the life of your deck. It also saves a great deal of time compared to cleaning and rinsing by hand with a garden hose.

Here is everything you need to know about using a pressure washer on your deck, including the appropriate pressure for composite decks versus wood decks.

How Many PSI Do I Need to Pressure Wash a Deck?

The pressure required to clean the surface of your deck can vary. When it comes to pressure cleaning wood or composite decks, less is more. For composite decks, it is advised that you use a pressure washer with up to 3,100 psi. You should only apply sufficient force to dislodge entrenched dirt and other pollutants. Excessive power applied to wood can remove far more than intended and can leave permanent stains or impressions. Use your eyes and common sense to calculate the optimal pressure level for the surface of your deck.

Pressure Washer PSI by Deck Type

The type of material your deck is constructed from will decide the safe PSI to use while power washing it.

  • Composite decking – Verify that you are following the manufacturer's recommendations for washing decking with a pressure washer in order to avoid damaging your deck.

  • Softwood decking - For redwood and cedar decks, 1200 PSI is sufficient pressure. In excess of that, you risk harming or destroying the wood, leaving behind a grain that is elevated.

  • Hardwood decking - Typically, hardwood decking can withstand slightly higher pressure than softwood. When pressure washing a hardwood deck, maintain a pressure between 1,200 and 1,500 PSI to avoid inadvertent damage.

How to Power Wash a Deck

1. Scrub the Deck with a Bristle Brush

A hard bristle brush should be in your deck cleaning toolkit. Because many cleansers will damage natural fibers, the brush should have synthetic bristles rather than natural fibers. A decent synthetic bristle can last for a long time. The brush's handle should be long enough to reach all of the places you need it to. One brush will rarely meet all of your demands, so if you require numerous brushes, purchase them. The appropriate tool for the job can make or break your project.

Clean the deck. Watering down the deck might sometimes help you apply and disseminate the cleaning products. Many solutions should not be allowed to dry on the wood, therefore spraying/misting may be required on a regular basis. You may see instant effects depending on how dirty the deck is. More often than not, the cleaner must remain on the deck for a short period of time in order to break down the embedded impurities.

After you've washed the entire deck, it's time to rinse. Again, a standard hose and nozzle may suffice. However, if you intend to use a pressure washer, the next section will teach you the proper practices. Even if you're being cautious, adding pressured water might cause wood fibers to rise to the top. These elevated fibers can be easily removed.

2. Power Wash the Deck

Before pulling the trigger on the wash wand, ensure that it is aimed away from the deck and anything else it could injure, such as windows and people. The water that emerges from the tip is referred to as a "fan," and the size of the fan may be altered by utilizing different tips, which are graded in degrees to indicate the angle. Typically, a zero-degree (0o) tip produces a straight stream, but you should never use a straight stream on wood. For deck cleaning, a 40o to 60o tip is common. Bring the fan to the deck's surface where it will be cleaned.

The Sweeping Method

Start "sweeping" the deck from the house outward. Use a sweeping motion parallel to the wood grain and maintain a consistent length of sweeping motions to prevent lap marks. The objective of pressure washing a deck is to eliminate grime without leaving pressure marks. If you apply too little pressure or hold the fan too far above the deck, the surface will be less clean. Applying excessive force or holding the tip too near to the wood may result in surface marring. When sweeping the surface, you should apply the same force throughout the entirety of each stroke.

The Feathering Method

"Feathering" is a technique that can help conceal the sweep's starts and stops. With this approach, you should overlap the previously swept areas, ensuring that the place where the nozzle is closest to the wood begins where the previous stroke finished. Constantly working with the grain or the length of the board, this technique needs more strokes and is slower, but it produces superior results. It also ensures that as much cleaner as possible is removed/diluted. Excess cleaner left on a deck's surface might have damaging and long-lasting impacts. The most effective approach for utilizing a pressure washer on a deck surface is feathering.

The Long Sweep Method

The "long sweep" is a different technique. Using this technique, the fan is brought to the surface and walked along the length of the board. The tip should be at the same distance from the deck over the entire length of the board, from the beginning of the stroke to the end. This procedure may take multiple passes. This strategy is suitable for decks without rails or impediments that make beginning and stopping difficult. If you employ this procedure on railing structures, you will leave a line where the fan stopped across the surfaces. These lines may be difficult to remove, as additional pressure will be required, possibly causing surface damage.

Pressure Washing Corners

Because there is no direct path for water to move around corners, it frequently ends up in the face of the user. Debris and chemicals in the atmosphere can be hazardous. Wear appropriate bodily protection at all times. When approaching a corner, activate the fan and bring it first into the corner to spray debris out. Instead of working yourself into a corner, you should always work out of one. To accomplish this, you may need to spray across the grain briefly. This is acceptable so long as the distance and pressure against the grain are larger than with the grain.

3. Let the Deck Dry and Apply Sealer or Stain if Desired

Once the entire deck has been cleaned, store the equipment and allow the surface to dry. Decks appear dramatically different after drying. When the deck is dry, little flaws that may have gone overlooked when it was wet become obvious. Additionally, it will be nearly impossible to remove elevated fibers from a damp surface. If the topcoat (sealer or stain) you've chosen is a one-day product to be applied after washing but before the deck dries, it is recommended that you wait at least 24 hours before applying it. After the deck has dried, perform a quality check. The surface should be free of lap marks and have minimally elevated wood fibers. The surface should be uniformly cleaned, with no unwashed or over washed regions. If your deck looks like this, give yourself a pat on the back. The next step is to prepare the surface for sealing or staining.

Use a cleaning solution to scour your dirty deck before using a power washer to remove the suds and grime.

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