How to Power Wash and Stain a Deck

Is your deck looking run-down, discolored or simply not its best? Over time, elements like sun, rain and snow can take their toll on the tone and texture of your wooden deck, not to mention natural wear and tear from everyday use. If this is the case with your deck, it may be time to restore it to its former glory with a thorough cleaning and staining. Read on to find out how to power wash and stain a deck so that it looks as good as new.
Why Power Washing is Important

Before you can get started restoring your deck, you need to clean off any dirt, debris and old finish. If you don’t do this, then the new finish may be uneven and show discoloration in parts where any material remains. Scrubbing your deck by hand is not very effective, but a pressure washer has the power to really get in there and remove grime from the small spaces in the wood and between the boards.

How to Power Wash your Deck

The first thing you will need to do is rent a pressure washer from a reputable company. Try to find one with pressure between 500 pounds per square inch (psi) and 1,200 psi. In general, softer woods can handle about 500 to 600 psi, while harder woods can handle up to 1,200 psi. Anything higher and you could risk damaging the wood.

Once you have your pressure washer, test it out on a part of the deck that is not so noticeable to make sure the pressure is not too high. Start low at about 500 psi and aim the wand a few feet above the surface of the wood. Slowly raise the pressure and lower the wand to about one foot from the wood until you can see that it is properly cleaning the wood without etching it.

Once you have determined the ideal pressure, start by spraying the railings or balusters first, then move on to the part of the deck that is closest to the house and make broad sweeping motions that go parallel to the direction of your deck slats and outwards towards the exit. Be sure to keep the nozzle at least one foot away from the wood and try to wash evenly so that you don’t get areas that are more worked than others.

How Long to Wait Before to Staining Your Deck

It is important to wait until your deck is completely dry before staining it. If you try to stain wet wood, it won’t absorb properly and you could end up with an uneven tone. In addition, water will get trapped underneath the stain and this could lead to mildew, moss, cracking, or peeling. A general rule of thumb is to wait at least 48 hours between power washing and staining your deck.

How to Stain Your Deck

The best time to stain your deck is on a clear, warm day that is not too humid. The deck should not be in direct sunlight when you stain it because the finish will dry too quickly and it won’t absorb properly. Cover any shrubs or plants surrounding your deck with a tarp or plastic, and paper off any areas of siding that are close to the deck.

When you are ready to start staining, gently stir the stain, but do not shake it because you do not want bubbles to form. Then start at the part of the deck closest to the house and use a paint brush or roller to apply thin, even coats to the boards. Do not allow puddles to form. Once the first layer is done, repeat with another thin, even layer. Allow the deck to dry completely before using it.

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