A power washer is a very useful tool that can be used to deep clean a wooden deck but when mishandled, it can lead to etching and a ruined deck. Here are some tips on how to properly use your power washer.
Before you begin, be sure to clear the area of all items including pots and furniture. Tie back or trim any damageable plants and be sure to sweep away all debris that could be blown around. Power washing is a wet job, so dress accordingly.
Pressure and tip selection:
When power washing a wooden deck, the goal is to remove dirt and grey wood oxidization, but in order to do so it must be done properly. To avoid etching the wood, choose a pressure level that is as low as possible while still being effective. For soft wood like pine or cedar, a safe pressure is between 500-600 psi, while harder woods may withstand a higher pressure. Resist going to a pressure level higher than 1200-1500 psi. If you wish to increase the pressure, set you power washer to a low psi and slowly increase the pressure as needed.
In terms of which tip to use, a fan tip is recommended. The wide angle of this nozzle allows for a lower pressure water stream. Make sure that, before you begin power washing, the tip is properly attached to avoid damage and injury to surrounding objects and people.
When you are ready to begin, always start by pressing the trigger away from people and glass, while maintaining at least a 24” distance away from the wood deck. Test the pressure and effectiveness on an unnoticeable area that can be easily replaced. Try to maintain a range of 12-18” from the deck to your nozzle. Never go closer than 12” unless you are at a low enough pressure.
Coming soon: Part 2: Tips and tricks about power washing