Tips for Pressure Washing a Deck

Get tips on how to pressure wash your deck efficiently and effectively so you can enjoy a clean deck and outdoor space!

woman pressure washing deck | Maison de Pax
woman power washing deck with overlay: how to pressure wash your deck | Maison de Pax

As I write this, my right deltoid might be screaming just a bit… ok, a lot. Two days of pressure washing, window cleaning, and weed pulling is a little outside my usual repertoire of exercise. But it was all worth it.

I always say that hosting is more about attitude than perfection (i.e. your house doesn’t have to be clean to be welcoming), but I love the excuse that hosting a party provides to get things really cleaned up. And an upcoming pool party was just what we needed to motivate us towards getting our dirty outdoor space spic and span for the summer.

Now I admit that pressure washing the coping around the pool and our enormous deck is a huge job, so it’s not actually something we do every year. Rather, we try to do it at least every other year… and it was definitely time.

large cream colored deck and light blue pool | Maison de Pax

I am not at all a professional at pressure or power washing, but this giant deck has helped me to develop a few tricks and tips that I thought you might find helpful if you are considering using high pressure water to clean your home and deck.

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Gas vs Electric Pressure Washers

I haven’t come close to trying every pressure washer on the market, but I will say that I’ve found the gas powered pressure washing equipment to be more effective. They usually have a higher PSI (which is the pressure measurement for the water), but they are also loud and sometimes smelly. That said, for a smaller deck (or smaller budget), I remember using electric ones at my parents with pretty good success. The gas one we have is about six years old and is no longer available, but I’ve rounded up some top-rated electric and gas options at various price points, ranging from ~$100-$300 for electric ones and ~$300-$400 for gas powered pressure washers. These may seem pricey, but when you consider that it would likely cost several hundred dollars to hire someone to pressure wash your deck or driveway just once, you realize that these machines pay for themselves pretty quickly!

How to power wash a deck:

I’ve got more details on each below, but here are my quick top 10 tips for DIY pressure washing.

  1. Choose the appropriate nozzle
  2. Clear the entire deck if possible
  3. Start at the highest corner
  4. Work in the direction of water flow
  5. Work in small sections
  6. Angle the spray for maximum coverage
  7. Don’t let the dirty water dry on the deck (may need to re-rinse)
  8. Wear lots of sun protection, especially on the back of your neck
  9. Be prepared to get dirty
  10. Wait until it dries to see the full transformation

Choose the appropriate nozzle

Most pressure washing equipment comes with multiple nozzles for different surfaces. For example, stone and rock can handle greater pressure than wood surfaces, so you may have different spray nozzle options for a concrete or wood deck.

Clear the entire deck if possible

dirty patio getting ready for pressure washing | Maison de Pax

Since our deck is most of our backyard, I didn’t have energy to move all the furniture to the front alone, so I simply stacked it out of the way in sections… but generally speaking, it’s best to have the entire surface clear before beginning.

Start at the highest corner

Do you know the highest part of the deck? Consider the direction of run off and start at the opposite end. This will be the most efficient path.

Work in small sections

Working in small sections allows you to get a thorough clean and to keep track of what you’ve done. If power washing a wood deck, but sure to work with the grain of the wood.

Angle the spray for maximum coverage

Most spray nozzles will direct the water into a line of sorts. Be sure to angle the line of water perpendicular to the direction you are swinging the spray gun. This will remove dirt most efficiently and effectively.

Work in the direction of the water flow

power washer spraying away dirt on a deck surface | Maison de Pax

Using a power washer will work wonders, but it will also produce lots of muddy water. That muddy water needs to be moved off the deck before it dries (see below), so be sure you are facing downhill and continuing to spray in that direction.

Don’t let the dirty water dry on the deck

pressure washer washing away dirt from a sidewalk | Maison de Pax

If the muddy water is allowed to dry on your freshly cleaned deck, it will undo most of what you’ve done! This is why it is so important to move in the direction of water run off. It also means that you sometimes have to re-rinse sections that may have received some overspray from other sections. I never have to fully re-power wash entire sections (a garden hose would suffice, but I just use the sprayer since it’s already hooked up), but I do try to be sure to move the muddy water along and off the deck surface.

Wear lots of sun protection, especially on the back of your neck

woman sporting hat, sunglasses, and long-sleeved swimwear for sun protection when pressure washing | Maison de Pax

Remember that you will likely have your head tipped down towards the deck throughout the process, so be sure to wear a high collar if you have one and definitely spread that sunscreen down the back of your neck.

Be prepared to get dirty

dirty deck and overspray from pressure washing | Maison de Pax

It’s not glamorous, but it’s definitely satisfying. 😉

Wait until it dries to see the full transformation

before during and after of pressure washing a stone wall | Maison de Pax

I think you’ll be amazed at the immediately satisfying results of pressure washing your deck. But if you aren’t, remember that a fully dry stone or wood will reveal the transformation even more completely. You can see here how the far left (darkest) is unwashed, the center (middle is washed but wet, and the far right (lightest) is mostly dry. What a difference it makes!

DIY Deck Cleaning

Pressure washing your deck is really just a matter of time and energy. And, to be perfectly honest, it’s incredibly therapeutic. There’s nothing quite like the immediate gratification of a pressure washer cleaning job. Will you try it?

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  1. Hah! You’re so brave for taking on the power washing all on your own! I’ve just had my husband and teenage son do the job. They were at it all last weekend and still have a few more sections to go… It’s a tedious process but so worth it as you’ve said.

    Thanks for these helpful tips. I’ll pass them along to my hubby. Maybe I’ll even work up the energy to do it myself… nah…

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