TIPS: Pressure Washing

Pressure washing can be very effective in the preparation process, but can do SERIOUS scaring to deck surfaces. Care must be taken to use the right pressure, tip, distance from surface and angle of the wand to surface. If you are going to purchase a pressure washer for home use, something in 1500-2000 psi range is powerful enough to do the job. A $300-400 machine from Costco is a great machine for a homeowner.

Never clean a deck without using chemical first to soften the dirt. Most of the damage to wood decks in the cleaning process is because the person did NOT use chemicals. Water alone will not remove everything.

Hold the wand no more than 10-12" from surface after the chemicals have soaked into the surfaces about 10 minutes. Always move the wand in smooth direction of the surface at an even distance. DO NOT use a swinging golf type motion. That will diminish the power at both ends and may be too strong in the middle. If the grime is not coming off easily, try getting a little closer, but you never want to be closer than 6"-8" from the surface or you can have serious wood damage. You may have to use the chemical stronger and/or twice.

Masonry cleaning such as concrete driveways, bricks, etc. may not require chemicals. Chemicals can help in stubborn stains or very dirty surfaces. Use smooth sweeping strokes, overlapping a bit. If you don't overlap, your driveway may look like a striped zebra when you think you are done. Get closer to the concrete surfaces (down to aout 3"-6" if needed). Getting that close with the pressure washer on concrete will not harm it.

Eye protection is important - wear goggles. Never put your finger near the tip of the wand. The water may actually cut through your flesh.

When we wash something, it typically splashes on surrounding areas, so hold the wand even farther and rinse off surrounding surfaces.

Do not be fooled by the thought that anyone can pressure wash properly immediately. It takes months of practice and dozens of decks for a new employee to learn to be an expert pressure washer. Like anything, there are tricks to the procedure. This is a dangerous weapon in careless hands.

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