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How To Pressure Clean (And Treat) Your Wood Deck Without Damaging It

Pressure Cleaning Wood Deck

Profound difference, hey?

There is no surface better looking when clean than wood…

…Just check out the difference between clean and dirty in that picture. The dirty side hadn’t been cleaned in 6 years. user motown89 took the pic while pressure cleaning (in flip flops!). It’s the back deck at his parents newly purchased home. I wonder how much more they would have payed if the deck looked like the clean side?

Are you getting ready to sell your home and want to add extra value?

Is summer fast approaching… The tantalizing smell of barbecue on your mind… But your back deck looks terrible and uninviting?

Well, you’re in the right place. Let’s check out the 6 steps to pressure washing your wood deck without damaging it.

Here’s An In-depth Instruction Video By Lowe’s:

Here’s A Summary Of The Video:

  • A wood deck is an investment. It adds value to your home by increasing living space
  • Protect that investment by cleaning and re-treating it every 2-3 years. This will not only make it look better but also extend its life by many years
  • Decks not cared for will look weathered and have stains from barbecue grease and the like
  • Prevent these stains and weathering with a good treatment
  • So how do you know if it’s time to pressure clean and treat? Check with water beading. Drip some water onto the deck and if it soaks into the wood it’s time. If it beads forming droplets on the surface it is fine for now
  • What treatment or stain should you use?
  • Well, it’s up to you as there are 4 types of stain:
    • Clear/natural transparent type
    • Toner (brings out the look of the grain)
    • Semi transparent (mostly masks grain)
    • Solid (covers it completely)…
    • …UV protection is greatest with solid and least with clear/transparent.

Now you can start the process, there’s 3 basic steps involved: Surface preparation, pressure cleaning and then staining. Here’s the details:

  • The wood needs to be clean and dry before applying stain
  • Prepare the wood by using 80-grit sandpaper over the surface
  • Broom away all the dust
  • Now use your pressure cleaner with the 40-degree nozzle to apply a mist to wet the wood surface before applying the wood stripper. Use wood stripper and wood brightener in 2 separate steps to assist the pressure washing
  • Use products specific to type of wood your deck is
  • So get the surface all wet and then apply stripper and let sit for 15 minutes without letting it dry
  • Rinse with pressure washer on light spray
  • Now’s time for the brightener and again, let sit for 15 minutes without letting dry
  • You can use a brush to deal with stubborn spots
  • After 15 minutes you can now use the pressure cleaner with the 25-degree nozzle to give the deck a final wash. Removing all the stains and the remaining brightener detergent. On the vertical railing etc. rinse bottom up.
  • Almost time for staining…
  • Cover off your house with plastic, cover off anything you don’t want to get stain on
  • Apply stain with paint roller with 2 thin coats over the surface use a paintbrush for the tight spots
  • That’s it… Let it dry for 24 hours then have a celebratory party.

What Pressure Washer Should You Use?

Light-duty should provide ample power, but…

…Medium-duty electric or gas is best option. Just be sure to use the correct nozzle and adjust spray distance to clean without damaging the wood.


  1. Lowe’s Home Improvement has a deck projects page that explains in summary how to clean your deck with a pressure washer. There’s some decent info that was used when researching this article.
  2. advice on pressure washing your deck is more in-depth and includes specific details on pressure and risks of damaging wood.