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So you're getting ready to pressure wash your deck. It's important that you set your nozzle correctly before you start. You should use a 40" spray pattern for optimal results. For a pressure washer dishing out less than 2,000 PSI, keep your nozzle about a foot away from the deck. At 2,000-3,000 PSI, your nozzle can be one to two feet away. At 3,000 PSI, your nozzle can be up to three feet away.
When you are ready to power wash your deck or pation you need to consider the cleanser carefully. Choosing the right power washing chemicals will be critical to obtaining good results when you clean your deck. You shoul always use a cleaning solution for your deck, even when it doesn't look too dirty. You will not only do a smoother job but it will be easier and quicker.
* Do not use bleach as it will not only discolor your deck but it may damage the pressure washing equipment.
* There are some pressure washer chemicals such as Biocleanse that are biodegradable and consumer friendly. These cleaners are gentle on the wood and will not damage the lawn or flower beds around your deck.
* Never let the cleaning solution sit on the wood for more than 15 minutes or it will start to dry and leave a residue.
* Always rinse with plenty of fresh water.
When pressure washing your deck, start by spraying the detergent on section-by-section and leave it on for five to 10 minutes. Next, use a 40" wide spray and test an area first before you start spraying down the whole deck. Pick an inconspicuous area and adjust the water pressure as needed. Just as you did with the detergent, work section by section to rinse. If you're working with a wood deck, spray one to two board widths at a time. If you have a lot of dirt and grime to clean up, consider adding an attachment like a floor brush.
How long you leave the detergent on when you're pressure washing your deck does matter. Once you've sprayed on the detergent, leave it on for five to 10 minutes to allow the cleaning agents to do their job. In order to ensure effective cleaning, do not allow the detergent to dry. Wet repeatedly as necessary until you are prepared to rinse off the cleaner.
The pressure needed for pressure washing your deck will be around 1500 PSI and the best tip for the job is a wide-angle tip of 25 to 40 degrees to create a wider spray to protect the wood from damage.
Do not use a hot water pressure washer on your deck. Remove any lose articles that may become projectiles when pushed by the pressure washer jet. Practice making a pendular motion with the spray up, down, and up again away from the surface. With this motion you will avoid leaving marks on the deck were the cleaning stroke starts.
Test the pressure washer on some old boards or a hidden side of the deck to make sure that the pressure is adjusted correctly and the spray will not cause any damage to wood. Wear protective eyewear and gloves.
After following the steps for preparation of the job adjust the water pressure of your electric pressure washer or gas pressure washer between 1500 to 1800 psi. This should be sufficient to power wash a deck.
* You should work in pendular strokes, as if you were doing low swing with a golf club.
* Keep the jet in motion at all times to avoid marking the surface where you start and stop. If a stain does not come off on the first try, keep passing over it until it dissolves.
* Don't let the cleaning solution sit for more than 10 to 15 minutes or it will dry and leave residue.
* Rinse with plenty of fresh water from your cold water powerwasher.
* Let your deck dry for 24 hours before applying the sealant.
Many deck areas will have a railing that requires a little sprucing up. When pressure washing your fence, you might as well clean the railing as well. It's a simple process and won't require much more of your time. Simply apply the detergent, working from bottom to top. You can let the detergent sit for five to ten minutes before you rinse. To make applying the cleaner easier, consider using a utility brush attachment to get in between the railings and in tight spots.
Always follow the manufacturers recommendations when operating a high pressure washer. Make sure that you remove or secure any object that can become a projectile when pushed by the pressure jet such as planters, toys and ornaments. Do not pressure wash electric outlets or fixtures. Make sure all windows and doors leading to the deck are firmly shut. Wear eye protection and appropriate clothing.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|