Do I need to power wash my deck?

An outdoor wooden deck being cleaned with a pressure washer and deck cleaner solution

One of the most effective ways to clean any large surface area is to utilize a power washer. It is quick and efficient and can leave everything looking brand new.
While there are a lot of positives to power washing, is it always a good idea to power wash a deck? That is not always a very easy question to answer, but in the right hands, a power washer works perfectly fine on decks.

The need to power wash a deck

Washing a deck without a power washer can be a pretty tedious task. It is usually hard to get everything as clean as possible in a more old-fashion way, and people tend not to have much time for that. A power washer dramatically speeds up the process, and the same goes for cleaning other areas around the home as well.

Finding the right pressure is the biggest key to success. When in doubt, start with low pressure so that there is no damage done to the deck whatsoever. A good starting point is around 500 psi, but people usually can jump up a little higher than that and still be in a safe zone.

It is important to pay attention to psi, but also the amount of distance between the wand and the deck. Getting too close can put the deck in a vulnerable situation, so try to keep at least a foot between the tip and the deck.

Not only does a consistent distance keep the deck in great shape, but it prevents any inconsistencies with the cleaning. If one area gets a lot more pressure than another area, it will make the deck look a little uneven.

Hidden benefits of power washing a deck consistently

Power washers often come with an option to add some cleaning solution specific for decks. A chemical stripper or brightener can enhance the deck even more, and it’s something that would take so much longer to achieve with a more traditional type of cleaning solution.

It might always be visible, but mold accumulation is a problem for some deck owners if they do not keep up with cleaning. By power washing even just once or twice a year, the mold comes right off.

Why do some recommend not power washing a deck?

The biggest reason why people recommend not using a power washer on a deck comes down to a general lack of knowledge on pressure. Some people who are not familiar with using a power washer will use maximum pressure, thinking that it will get the job done quickly. Doing that can severely damage the finish or the actual wood on a deck.

Some inexpensive power washers might not have the same amount of settings to handle more fragile surfaces. If there are limited settings on the power washer, it is best to avoid using it on a desk altogether.

Finally, even a properly calibrated power washer might still require sanding after cleaning everything off. That is because whenever wood gets wet, fibers will raise, and that sometimes creates too rough of a surface. Some might be looking to avoid having to do any sanding after the fact, but it is better to do that than have to deal with other consequences from not giving the deck a proper cleaning.

Final recommendation: do I need to power wash my deck?

Unless the person has a lot of time to clean their deck by hand meticulously, a power washer is the most effective way to go. Just make sure to keep a close eye on pressure, since even the highest settings can damage much harder surfaces than wood.

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