How to pressure wash a wooden deck

Pressure washing things is one of my favorite hobbies; you get to clean things, and that too in a fun way. Can things get better than this? I would say no. However, cleaning is not something that everyone loves to do, especially when there are some restrictions or a protocol one is supposed to follow. So let us breakdown the process of pressure washing a wooden deck with a pressure washer.

Getting what we need

But before we start with the process itself, let us list down the equipment required to satisfy your cleaning spree.

Starting with one of the most obvious ones, we are going to need

  • A pressure washer (duh!!)
  • Deck brightener or stripper,
  • Orbit sander
  • Sandpaper

This entire process of cleaning is made up of three steps that can be classified as:

  • Tip selection
  • Washing
  • Sanding

If you do not have a pressure washer, you can rent one out, but we would recommend buying a pressure washer because it is quite versatile and can prove to be extremely handy for our everyday cleaning tasks.

Pressure Adjustment

Now let us move to step number 1, where we select and adjust the settings for optimal results.

For the wooden decks, the lowest but yet sufficient pressure is recommended, especially for softer woods like cedar and pine. The high-pressure settings of the pressure washer can damage the wood.

The pressure that is suitable and suggested for these softwoods is 500 to 600 pounds per square inch. Relative to these, the harder woods are able to tolerate more pressure and can be washed up with a maximum pressure of 1200 pounds per square inch.

Tip Selection

Once the pressure is set, it is time to choose our nozzle tip for washing. We recommend using the fan tip for washing a wooden deck. The angle for this tip should be something around 40 to 60 degrees for optimal results and easy usage, but you can also use a rotating tip as well if you are good at handling it.

Once you are set with pressure settings and tip selection, it is now time to test the efficiency of your selection. However, while testing, make sure that you try in an area that you already want to replace because there is always a possibility of damage.

Now that we have optimized our settings, we have a green light to start the process of pressure washing a wood deck.

Test Run

Before you actually start cleaning, set the pressure to something around 500 to 600 psi, and spray it at an area that does not call for much attraction. If everything goes well, gradually increase the pressure until it seems enough.

Press the trigger a couple of feet above the surface of the deck and gradually lower the wand till it is one foot above the ground. This distance is to be maintained to ensure the safety of the deck.

The Process of Washing

Once you have adjusted to the pressure and handling of the pressure washer, you can move the wand in a sweeping motion and begin your cleaning. Now all you have to do is to maintain this back and forth motion of your arm and try to avoid all the unnecessary movements and pivoting of your arm.

To keep the wood safe, make sure you move your arm lengthwise along the grain of the wood. This also makes the cleaning look more ‘realistic’ and professional and does not leave any cleaning edges.

Once you have got all the dust off, it is time to sand the deck. Under ideal conditions, the wooden decks should not get affected by pressure washing.

However, the wet woods make the fibers rise, and the end result is a rough surface, which can eventually lead to splinters as well. The best solution for this is to sand the deck.


Sanding the deck might sound like something really difficult and painstaking, but it really does not take much of your strength. Try going for 100-grit sandpaper for the handrail and 60 grit to 80 grit sandpaper for the deck itself to sand because it can then create pores that absorb sealer readily.

The suggested and the preferred machine of use for sanding is the random orbital sander with a base of no longer than 5 inches.

Once you are done pressure washing and sanding your deck, it is almost as good as new. And this is how you pressure wash a wood deck like a master!