Should I Pressure Wash My Deck?

Image of a pressure washer but Should I Pressure Wash My Deck?Considering the environment, your deck is bound to look dirty and less appealing to the eye. Washing is one of the maintenance practices that you can employ as a way of keeping your structure in a top condition. So how do you go about washing your deck? Should I pressure wash my deck?- You are probably asking yourself that question.

Yes, you can pressure wash your deck. However, the pressure that you need to wash the surface of your deck must not be more than 1,500 pounds per square inch (PSI). Even at 1500 PSI, this pressure is still high and can damage softwood and go as far as leaving lap marks on most composite decking.

So if you are going to pressure wash your wooden deck, ensure that you are working at a favorable pressure that will get your job done and leave your deck in a good condition without inflicting any damages.

How To Pressure Wash A Deck

You just don’t go and start washing your deck. There are procedures that you need to follow, have certain tools, etc. So that you get the job done in the most accomplished way possible.

You will need the following even as you prepare to pressure wash your deck.

  • Tools

A pressure washer with a rotating tip

Plastic sheets (optional)

A random orbit sander though it’s optional

  • Materials 

You can choose to have a deck stripper/brightener and sandpaper thought its an optional choice

Step One: Choose a Tip and Pressure Setting

It’s an important thing that you settle on the right pressure setting and spray tip even as you prepare for cleaning of your deck:

Ensure that you are using the lowest possible pressure that will still do an effective cleaning job. If you are working with softwoods such as cedar or pine, you should adjust your pressure setting to a range of 500 to 600 pounds per square inch. Hardwoods can stand high pressure though I don’t recommend that you go anywhere past 1,200 psi.

Ensure that your fan tip has a 40- to 60-degree spread. You can as well choose to use a rotating tip though you need to be extra careful with it.

Step Two: Power Wash Your Deck

Even as you look to begin washing your deck, try to set the pressure at 500 to 600 psi and try it out on an inconspicuous area. Make your observation and increase your pressure as you desire, provided that you are cleaning your deck without inflicting any damage to the surface.

During the process, try and engage the trigger as you hold the wand tip some feet away from the surface of the deck, lower the wand to up to 12 inches above the surface of your deck. Do the cleaning in a sweeping motion, and avoid at all cost the tendency to pivot with your arm, as it can result in ​an inconsistent distance between the tip of the spray and the surface of the deck. 

Try as much as you can to maintain a consistent distance by moving your arm laterally forward and backward.

After that, clean your deck starting from the house going outward, here, ensure that you are working with the grain by feathering the spray lengthwise, parallel to the boards of the deck, and overlapping each area a little bit. The reason for all these is to achieve a clean surface with no visible “cleaning edges.”

Watch the video below on how to pressure wash a deck:

Step Three: Apply a Wood Stripper/Brightener (Optional step)

If you notice that your wood surface had bad looking stains from spillages or even mildew. At this point, you might want to consider using a wood stripper. Using a deck cleaning solution with sodium hydroxide as a component can be key in brightening your wood. 

Some of the wood brighteners that you can use for stripping purposes include; Star Brite Premium Teak Cleaner and Rust-Oleum 16003 Wood Cleaner, even as you brighten your deck, ensure that the pressure washer allows for the intake of cleaning solutions.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions while mixing the solution. Ensure that your application of the stripping solution is in the same manner that you pressure washed with plain water. Do the rinsing again with plain water. 

Note: Stripper/brightener products tend to have a roughening effect on the wood fibers, so generally, you will need to sand the surface of your deck completely before you can re-stain it.

Why Sanding After Pressure Washing?

Using a pressure washer to clean your wooden deck does not ruin or erode the fibers of softwood whatsoever. However, each time wood gets wet, its fibers may get raised, swell to create a rough surface. Therefore, a wood sander is needed to ensure that your surface is smooth and ready for the subsequent finish.

Depending on the way you do the washing of the deck, you may not necessarily need sand it entirely especially if you cleaned using low pressure. You can choose to do spot sanding where you identify areas that contain stains or need sanding here and there. However, if you are going to restrain the whole of your deck, I recommend that you sand the entire deck. Sanding is great as it helps in the opening up of wood pores preparing the surface of the for soaking the next stain or sealer.

When you are sanding the surface, try not to use very fine sandpaper, as it can clog the pores on the surface of the wood which can, in turn, stop the stain from soaking into the wood.

If you are sanding a handrail, use sandpaper that is no finer than 100-grit. For deck’s surface, use a 60- to 80-grit sandpaper.

When Is the Best Time to Pressure Wash the Deck 

As a homeowner, you should recognize that a deck is part of your home and needs cleaning from time to time. The more your deck stays outside, the more it fades to a point where you need to clean it and possibly stain it.

So when is the right time of the year to pressure wash your deck? Overall, it is a good practice to pressure wash your deck when the temperature is above 52 degrees both at night and during the day with no rain or condensation for many days. This condition allows the deck to dry as fast as possible.

One preparation for the pressure washing of a deck is the removal of all furniture from your surface. Close all the access to the deck so that there is no interruption once you start to clean your area.

Having your deck pressure washed annually can play an important role in keeping your deck clean and with a new look all throughout the year.


Pressure washing is one of the ways that you can use in the cleaning of your deck and helping keep it on top conditions.

Even as you clean your deck, ensure that you are using enough pressure from the washer so that you don’t damage the surface in the process.

Should I Pressure Wash My Deck?

If you were asking that question before, I hope you have your answer now. Proper maintenance of your deck help keeps it in a good working condition for a long period.

Did you find this post helpful? Kindly share your thoughts on the comment section below.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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