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C & C SEALCOATING SERVICES Power Washing Your Deck Guys seem to love equipment that makes noise, is powerful and saves time. A power washer can fit that bill just fine. But it can also ruin your wood deck! Why? Because most people don't use the power washer properly and use it with too high a jet pressure (that's the "power" part) and place the tip too close to the soft wood. A power washer can be powerful enough to etch brick or gentle enough to wash siding. They come in various sizes, some providing over 4,000 psi (pounds per square inch) of water pressure some only a few hundred, some are run by gas engines, some by small electric motors, they have a variety of pressure wand tips and can handle many different tasks. Using a power washer to deep clean a wood deck can be done successfully but there a lot of horror stories about a power washer becoming a power etcher when improperly used on wood. The result of improper power washing? Well it can require wood replacement or cause a ruined deck at its worst and require serious sanding at best 2 of 4Previous NextPower Washing: Pressure and Tip Selection Power Washing a Wood Deck © 2009 . Power Washing: Pressure and Tip Selection Because the power washer is so versatile and can be used for so many different tasks, they come in many pressure ratings and tip styles depending on their intended application. I recommend the following pressure and tip selections for cleaning wood: •Use as low a pressure as possible while still being effective; •Pressure for soft wood like cedar or pine should be at about 500 psi to 600 psi, harder woods may go higher but no more that 1200-1500 psi; •Use a fan tip (preferable) or carefully use a rotating tip (shown here); •Always start the water pressure by depressing the trigger away from people and glass windows and at least 24" away from the wood deck, then feathering it into range of about 12-18" from the deck; •As a rule of thumb, try to never get closer than 12" from the wood deck unless you're at low pressure. •Test your pressure and its effectiveness in as inconspicuous an area as possible. Maybe a stair tread. If you mess up and have to replace a piece of wood because you etched it, a stair tread is easier to replace than a deck board. Power Washing Technique Here ares some tips for proper power washing technique. •As mentioned in the previous page, you will most usually use a fan tip on the power washer. Fan tip size is measured in degrees, with a 40 to 60 degree tip size being the norm for deck cleaning. •Set your pressure to 600 psi to see if that will work for you. Increase the pressure incrementally as needed to clean the deck but not damage or etch the wood surface. •Engage the trigger a couple of feet away from the deck surface and and then lower the wand to about 12" off the surface and clean the deck using a sweeping motion. •As you sweep you will have a tendency to pivot with your arm but that will create inconsistent distance of the tip from the deck surface. Try to keep a consistent distance as you sweep. You can do this by moving your arm laterally back and forth. •Work from the house outward. •Work with the grain by feathering your spraying lengthwise with the deck boards and overlapping each area slightly. The key is you want an even cleaning with no hot spots or visible "cleaning edges."