Pressure Washing A Deck: What You Need To Know
Whether you’re an old hand at pressure washing or you’ve never tried it, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time marveling at what those insanely powerful instruments can do. Whether you’re dealing with a dirty subway floor caked with dirt, an outdoor patio after a fierce storm or an area of your backyard that literally hasn’t been cleaned in years, using a power washing tool can make a huge difference and save you tons of time in back-breaking, thankless work. But if you’ve never thought seriously about doing deck power washing, you might not know where to begin. Using a powerful machine to pressure wash your deck is a great idea for homeowners everywhere, but before you start, you’ll need to know how to safely and effectively handle the machinery in order to get the result you desire. If you’re ready to use a power washer to reveal a spotlessly clean deck surface, here’s what you should know.
Different Materials, Different Techniques
As with all cleaning jobs, different materials have different sensitivities. You’ve probably heard all about the many horror stories relating to wooden desks cleaned by inexperienced pressure washer owners. If you use too much pressure or even the wrong tip, you can end up shaving half the wood off your deck. While other materials such as stone and cement are much harder to pry loose with a power washer, it still pays to be careful, especially if your deck is older and has seen better days. Wood is by far the most sensitive material when it comes to pressure washing, so be sure to start on a low power setting using a spray tip that won’t send an extreme blast barreling out. You should also try to practice using the washer before you actually attempt to clean your deck. Try washing areas around your garden or outdoor areas that a bit less brittle. Once you get the hang of it, you can use your new skill to strip the dirt off your deck.
Use the Right Tip
Pressure washers come with a variety of different settings. They also come with different tips that serve different functions. For instance, if you have a wood deck, using the fan tip is recommended. Not only is this a gentler tip, it also sometimes has a rotating function that will help you clean the grit off your wood without harming the exterior. If you’re treating a delicate surface, you might not even know when you’re doing damage, so it pays to be careful and to use the right tip for the job. You should also be mindful of keeping the tip further away from the surface. The closer it is, the more damage it’s likely to do. Again, doing a few trial runs is a good way to get comfortable with the force of the machine and how it works.
Seal and Treat
Whether your deck is made of wood, stone, slate, or any other material, you probably won’t want to simply spray it with your washer and walk away. Cleaning your deck will require a few extra steps if you really want to protect your work. Wood, for instance, won’t just require a wash. You’ll want to take the opportunity once it’s clean to observe the surface for any scrapes or knicks and sand off areas that are looking a bit worn. After sanding, you’ll need to seal your wood to protect it from water damage. You can do this with a store-bought sealant, or you can use a wood stain to give it a more colorful finish. Either way, you’ll want to keep your wood sealed rather than leaving it wet and exposed. The same goes for certain porous stone materials.
Try Different Power Settings
You don’t want to use the same tip, the same setting, and the same speed for all your home projects. With your deck, the flooring might require a certain kind of pressure, while the more delicate elements, such as the siding and detailing, may require a more gentle touch. Before starting, play around with the different nozzles and settings until you find one that’s more gentle than the rest. You can start off at this setting and work your way up, always being mindful of what the material can actually take. Remember, you don’t need to use the utmost pressure on your deck unless it’s actually caked with dirt, which is unlikely. You can always go over the area again if you haven’t cleaned it well enough. You can’t, however, replace blown-off parts of your deck so easily.