DIY: How to Pressure Wash Your Deck
The outdoors may be great, but they can also be more than a little messy. With rain, wind, sleet and snow, your deck can get caked in dirt, pollen and mildew in no time. Before you invite the family over for your next backyard barbecue, you might want to spruce it up a bit. Using a pressure washer makes it easy to lift that pesky layer of grime for an instantly gratifying outdoor chore. Learn how to pressure wash your deck to give it a brand-new luster for summertime.
Step 1: Find the Perfect Machine
Consider the pressure power of your washer, measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). It’s important to have a high enough PSI to effectively clean the surface of your deck, but not too high that it might strip the finish or cause damage. For most decks, somewhere between 500-1,500 PSI should do the trick.
Some pressure washers are electric, while other models are gas powered. Electric washers tend to be smaller and quieter, but they also require a power source during use. Gas-powered models are better suited for heavy-duty jobs, and they’re cordless for use across large areas.
Step 2: Consider Detergents
Typically, the high pressure of the water will be enough to remove standard stains. If you find the grime on your deck is particularly stubborn, consider using a detergent to help lift it out. Make sure your pressure washer is compatible for use with detergent beforehand, and that it won’t cause damage to the deck material.
Step 3: Take Proper Precautions
Pressure washers produce extremely powerful jets of water and can cause serious injury if improperly used. Make sure to fully cover your lower body with thick clothing, as pressure washing can loosen debris and send it flying. Wear thick boots, work gloves and eye protection. Never aim a pressure washer at plants, animals or people, and be prepared for a powerful kickback as you begin.
Step 4: Prepare the Area
Pressure washers use a lot of water, so make sure the area has proper drainage. Move any small or delicate objects out of the way, and cover any plants or garden features that you don’t want damaged. Disconnect electricity to any nearby outdoor outlets or electrical fixtures if possible, and cover them with plastic sheeting to keep them dry. Lastly, make sure your deck surface is strong and intact, so as to not cause any further damage.
Step 5: Perfect Your Spray Form
Don’t spray too close to the deck, as the pressure might be more than you expect. Begin from a distance of 3-4 feet from the surface, and slowly move closer to find the sweet spot. Don’t spray perpendicular to the surface, as you can push dirt further into the material or heighten the risk of damage. Spray on an angle as to lift and lob dirt and debris away from the surface. Use even, systematic strokes from the top downward to help ensure you don’t miss any spots. If you decide to use detergent, lightly wet the surface before you begin. Apply from the bottom upward, and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off with water.