Once it’s past labor day, most of us just try to enjoy the last days of summer and get our homes ready for the inevitable winter to come. Just like many practice a spring cleaning, so too do they practice the ritual of prepping their homes for fall and beyond. Checking the furnace, clearing out the hoses and sealing windows are all important tasks, but not nearly as much fun as power washing the deck!
If you’re like us, power washing isn’t a chore, it’s the chance to do cleaning with power tools. And everyone knows adding power tools to any task makes it far more enjoyable. But it’s important to remember that a power washer is, in fact, a real power tool that can cause a lot of actual damage. Homeowners with decks need to understand the importance of power washing, and at the same time, understand that there is a proper, safe technique that must be used.
First off, and this should be obvious to everyone, a power washer is a power tool and not a toy. Make sure not to put any body parts in front of the high-pressure water coming out the end. Do you really want to find out what happens to a finger or hand placed in front of a water cannon that can strip layers off of wood?
The point of a power wash is to remove dirt, moss, fungus and other debris from a deck. For this process, set your pressure washed to as low power as possible while still being effective. With cedar and pine, you probably won’t want to exceed about 600 psi, and even with harder woods you probably won’t need to go over 1500 psi.
Start washing about 2 feet away by pulling the trigger while using a fan tip, and move closer until the distance is about one foot to 18 inches. Most of the time, you shouldn’t need to get closer than about a foot away, and in such cases you should have the power washer on a low setting. “Sweep” the deck in a fanning motion with the water while doing your best to maintain a consistent distance from the deck. Work away from the house and with the grain of the deck until the entire thing is clean.
After you’re done cleaning, grab the sander and get rid of those splintered areas. If you’ve done a great job cleaning, a few touch ups may be all it takes. If you’re planning to restain the deck, then sand the whole thing – trust us, it will make your life a lot easier later on!