How to Pressure Wash a Deck With a Power Washer

My deck looked so awesome when it was new… do I get it back to its former glory?

A new wooden deck adds so much to your home.

Not only does it bring personal enjoyment by adding to the existing leisure areas of your house, but also by adding dollar value to your property.

However, unfortunately, over time, your deck surface can collect various stains from; the elements, flower pots, BBQ grease etc. (not to mention the odd splash of red wine!) and can start to look a bit jaded.

Luckily a pressure washer can help you bring it right back to life!

Using power washers to clean decks is both a way more convenient and a way more effective method of cleaning than scrubbing by hand with a brush.

If you don’t take good care of your deck, the stains and weathering will become ingrained and the surface will be open to the ravages of rot that will shorten the life of the wood.

With the right maintenance you can not only keep your investment looking nice, but also extend its life.

In this article I explain the steps required to pressure clean your wood deck most effectively using an average pressure washer such as this model from Ryobi, which also isn’t too expensive.

‘How do you know when it’s time to pressure clean?’

Well, the answer is simple; by doing the water beading test. Trickle some water on the deck, if it soaks in then you know its time to clean and reseal, but if beads of water form on the wood surface then your deck is still fine.

Cleaning your deck should be part of your home maintenance schedule, like having your car serviced. Ideally it should be cleaned and treated once every couple of years.

‘What type of pressure washer should I use?’

Different types of pressure washers (Sun Joe washers included), come with different features.

You should read the manufacturer’s guide carefully prior to starting any cleaning project, to ensure the particular model is suitable for the particular job, having said that, most models can be used for jet washing a wooden deck.

If you’re not someone who owns a pressure washer, that’s not a problem, as you can rent one at many garden & home centers, including the popular AR383 which I’ve seen for hire for as little as $40 per day.

You don’t have to be a pro at power washing or even have a lot of experience in pressure washing to clean your own deck, so long as you follow the instructions below step by step.

Preparation For Power Washing Deck

If you haven’t used a pressure washer before then it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the machine and its various components first e.g. the trigger, the hose and any attachments that may be relevant.

Assemble all the items that you might need including a small scrubbing brush for tight corners and stubborn stains

Before beginning with your power washing, make sure your working s is ready.

To prevent sliding or tripping, remove all obstacles from your work area.

Ensure the plants close-by, light fixtures and electrical components are covered.

Get rid of any loose debris and surface dirt by sweeping first.

Make sure the windows and doors near-by are closed.

When deciding where to stand the pressure washer itself, take into account the wind direction and how it could affect the water stream.

Select the suggested spray pattern/spray tip for the job. This kind of information is available in the pressure washer manual, which comes with most models like the Simpson model here.

Spot Testing The Pressure Washer

Try out the high-pressure sprayer on an inconspicuous area of the deck first, to be certain of getting the best results by using the correct pressure setting and also to make sure the distance and spray pattern are not going to damage the wood fibers and spoil the surface of your deck.

Most models of power washer also have different nozzles for different uses.

Applying The Cleaner

There are special wood/deck cleaning solutions on the market created specifically for pressure washers and they’re not necessarily the same as a cleaner you would use on your siding.

Select the cleaning solution best suited to the wood that your deck is made of and apply with a dedicated soap nozzle if you have one or a low pressure setting, around 1500 psi should be about right.

Use a sweeping motion, starting from one side of the deck boards and working your way across to the other, covering the width of a couple of boards at a time with each pass of the wand.

Using a reasonably stiff brush as a tool to work the soap solution into any tight corners and between any deck balusters.

Do the same for any stubborn stains and particularly dirty areas, working in a circular motion with the brush.

Leave the detergent on the decks surface for the time indicated in the detergent manufacturer’s guide.


Avoid applying to hot surfaces or regions that are exposed to direct sunlight.

The detergent should not be left to dry on the surface!

Rinsing off The Cleaner

Spray in the same direction as the grain of the wood to rinse the cleaner off the deck.

Rinse thoroughly, making two passes if necessary.

Drying & Sealing

There are various sealing products on the market, so choose the one that best suits the wood that your deck is made of.

Leave your deck to dry for 48 hours after spraying, then apply the sealer of your choice, following the instructions of the manufacturer.

Storing Your Pressure Washer

When you’ve completed your cleaning task, use the power washer manufacturer’s guide for correctly releasing the water pressure and evacuating any water from inside the pump, ready for storage.

As with all tools and especially electrical ones, store in a place where it will be protected from the elements.

Pressure Washer Safety

Below are general instructions that you should follow when using a pressure washer

You should have knowledge of turning off the pressure and discharging pressure from the system.

When operating a pressure washer, make sure you are on a steady surface, where you have good balance and a stable footing.

When the pressure washer is switched on, you should NEVER leave the wand or spray gun unattended.

Always be aware of which direction the pressure washer nozzle is pointed in.

Ensure anyone near where you are using a power washer is wearing adequate eye-protection in case of accidental loss of control.

NEVER direct the wand/nozzle of the pressure washer towards human beings, animals (or precious plants!).

When using cleaning chemicals, make sure you stick to the chemical manufacturer’s guide.

Avoid switching on the pressure washer when the water supply is not connected and switched on, as this could cause damage to the appliance.

NEVER operate a pressure washer which is powered by gasoline indoors or in an area without the right ventilation.

If using a gas-powered power washer, place the engine exhaust far away from traffic areas.

The manual may suggest leaving the pressure washer for a few minutes after use to allow it to rest.


A pressure washer saves a helluva lot of elbow grease, turning what would otherwise be a back-breaking chore (and therefore probably a rarely done chore…..), into a breeze!

There is something very satisfying about transforming the look of your deck in such a relatively short space of time.

Make sure you take a ‘before’ photo so that you can really appreciate the difference!

Hopefully the tips above will have banished any reservations you previously had, about pressure washing your own deck.

Enjoy the results of your efforts!!

Yours in tool knowledge…….

The Tool Boss