Winter is on its way out, leaving behind a season’s worth of mold, moss and grime. As homeowners begin preparing their backyard living space for spring, many turn to pressure washing as a quick way to restore fences and decks to their summer glory.
A pressure washer is a popular way to clear away tough dirt from your home’s exterior, but using one effectively requires a bit of skill and knowledge. Many experts recommend against power washing a wood fence or deck because of the potential for damaging the wood surface–particularly when you’re cleaning a softwood such as cedar.
However, if you feel power washing is necessary, carefully read the instruction manual before turning on your pressure washer, and follow these guidelines for safe, effective use:
DO practice using the pressure washer in a safe location to get used to the way it works.
DO test the pressure washer on a small, inconspicuous section of your fence or deck to make sure the pressure is adjusted properly.
DO use a wide-angle tip, 25-40 degrees, which will create a wider spray and protect your wood fence or deck from damage.
DO begin pressure washing several feet away from the object you’re cleaning and slowly move forward to within 1-2 feet until the surface is clean. Using gradual pressure will prevent accidental damage to your fence or deck.
DO pressure wash your fence by starting from the bottom and working your way up, using sweeping arcs and lifting each stroke up and away from the surface to avoid streaking or marks. For a deck, use a pendular motion (like a low swing with a golf club) and always keep the water spray in motion to avoid leaving marks.
DO pay attention to what is on the other side of the object you’re pressure washing.
DO wear non-slip boots.
DON’T use a hot water pressure washer on your fence or deck. Cold water is sufficient.
DON’T bring the nozzle any closer than 1-2 feet from the object you’re cleaning.
DON’T use a pressure of more than 500-800 psi to clean your fence. Some experts recommend a pressure of 2,000-3,000 psi for your deck, while others caution against using more than 1,000 psi.
DON’T aim the spray directly at a person, animal, window, or any type of brick, stucco or masonry.
DON’T pressure wash any section of your fence that is inaccessible from a distance of at least three feet. Pressure washing in tight quarters can damage your fence.
For more fence care tips, read up on the common mistakes Northwest fence owners make. Have a safe pressure washing experience, and enjoy your sparkling backyard!