But the sun exposure and wet conditions can be brutal on your deck.
You need to stain and or seal your deck regularly to keep it in good condition.
Before you can do that though you need to make sure your deck is clean so the stain or sealer will adhere to the deck boards.
I built my deck Fall/Winter of 2017 with pressure treated deck boards. Pressure treated pine (common in Florida) is very wet once you install them and you have to wait for them to dry to be able to stain or seal them.
I’m going to give you some tips to make your power washing go smoothly and get your deck squeaky clean.
Do You Have to Use a Pressure Washer?
Sometimes you can get away with just scrubbing your deck down to remove unwanted stains.
I thought I could simply clean my deck with a scrub brush and oxiclean mixture. I had mold on the decking boards that were in the shade most of the time next to the house.
I did some research and heard people were getting good results from mixing oxiclean with dish detergent to get mold off decking boards. I wet the deck down and scrubbed the mixture over all the deck.
I allowed the areas with mold to soak some of the mixture longer than the rest of the boards. It certainly cleaned some of the mold but it didn’t get everything. It did a good job on the rest of the deck.
After finishing, it was time to use a power washer.
How much does it cost to pressure wash a deck
It’s a great weekend project that will cost the average home owner between $200-300 dollars, if you’re buying the pressure washer for the first time. After that, the cost will be more like $40-60 for the scrubber, bucket, and deck cleaning solution.
The cost difference will depend on whether you buy or rent your power washer. Many homeowners choose to buy a power washer from Home Depot or Lowes simply because you have several things you could pressure wash during the year.
The range for a pressure washer runs from $129 for a lower end electric power washer up to over $1,000 for premium, heavy duty pressure washer to buy. If you rent it for the day from an equipment rental, then it could run you between $75-150. The range is close enough that many will choose to buy one and keep it.
If you buy, just get a medium duty corded pressure washer and it will do most of what you need at your house.
What Tip Should You Use
Power washing a deck is instant gratification but if you’re not careful, you can damage your deck and cause more headache in the long run which is why I tried to clean my deck without power washing first.
That can take several months depending on your weather. 2018 was a very wet year for Florida and I didn’t get a chance to finally stain it until late Fall of 2018. Since the deck was a year old, I knew I’d have to clean it thoroughly.
When using a power washer on a deck, you need to be careful on which tip you use. All the tips are color coded to show the degree of spray that it will emit.
I never use the red or yellow tips because they can actually damage the wood fibers of the deck board. I mostly use the green tip which is great for cleaning pretty much anything.
These are usually the jet style tips that you want to stay away from. Use the fan or rotating tips instead.
How to Use the Wand
The key to power washing is keeping the wand an even distance from the deck boards and moving in a sweeping motion. Never leave your wand in one spot for an extended time. This will make sure that you don’t damage any of the wood fibers.
You know if you’re too close when the wood starts to look fuzzy. That’s because you’re peeling through the wood and pulling back the wood fibers. Our goal is to only get the grime on top of the wood.
Usually you want to keep the psi less than 1200. The sweet spot will be 500-700 psi, since most woods used for decking are softer. Pine and cedar are often used for decking and can’t tolerate higher psi.
If you have an area on the deck that’s not wanting to come up, then you’ll want to scrub it with a brush and the deck cleaning solution, instead of trying to get it up with the pressure washer.
Even though I had already scrubbed most of the deck down before power washing, I still was able to remove even more dirt with the power washer. It was great for getting in between the boards to remove very small debris.
Power washing goes by very quickly. I think it took more time to get everything off the deck than to actually power wash it.
You can let the deck dry to see if there are any areas that you missed, since when a deck is wet, it might not show the spots.
From here, you might want to sand down any areas where you got too close to the deck and see raised wood fibers. Sand it down to a smooth finish if you can. Then your deck will be ready for stain or paint.
You’ll need to let the deck dry out completely before staining or painting it. Depending on humidity and area where you live, this can take a couple of days to a little longer.
My next article will talk about staining our deck and how we did it.