Pressure washing your deck is an excellent way to keep it looking clean and well-maintained. However, it’s essential to use this powerful tool with caution to avoid causing damage. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when pressure washing your deck:

  1. Using Excessive Pressure

One of the most significant mistakes you can make is using too much pressure when cleaning your deck. High-pressure settings can damage the wood, causing it to splinter, crack, or strip away the protective finish. Always start with a low-pressure setting and gradually increase if necessary.

Wooden Decks: Use a pressure setting between 1200 and 1500 PSI (pounds per square inch) to avoid damaging the wood.

Composite Decks: Opt for a lower pressure setting, around 1000 PSI, to prevent surface damage.

  1. Holding the Nozzle Too Close

Holding the pressure washer nozzle too close to the deck’s surface can lead to severe damage. It’s crucial to maintain a safe distance, typically around 12 to 18 inches from the wood. Keep the nozzle moving to prevent concentrating the pressure on one spot.

  1. Neglecting a Test Spot

Before you start pressure washing the entire deck, always perform a test spot on a small, inconspicuous area. This allows you to determine the appropriate pressure setting and nozzle distance without risking damage to the visible parts of your deck.

  1. Skipping Deck Preparation

Failure to prepare your deck properly before pressure washing can result in subpar results. Sweep away debris, remove furniture, and clear the deck of any obstacles before you start. It’s also a good idea to cover nearby plants and shrubs to protect them from the cleaning solution.

  1. Using Harsh Chemicals

Using harsh or abrasive chemicals can damage your deck’s wood and finish. Stick to deck-specific cleaners and detergents recommended by the manufacturer or a professional. Avoid using bleach or other aggressive chemicals that can harm the wood fibers.

  1. Not Following the Wood Grain

Always follow the direction of the wood grain when pressure washing. Going against the grain can cause splintering and create an uneven, unattractive finish.

  1. Allowing the Deck to Dry Unevenly

After pressure washing, let your deck dry thoroughly. Avoid letting it dry unevenly, which can happen if you leave furniture or other objects in place. Uneven drying can lead to discoloration and potential damage.

  1. Using the Wrong Nozzle Tip

Different nozzle tips produce various spray patterns and pressure levels. Using the wrong tip can result in damage or ineffective cleaning. Consult your pressure washer’s manual to choose the appropriate tip for deck cleaning.

  1. Overlooking Regular Maintenance

Pressure washing is not a one-time solution. Neglecting regular maintenance, including resealing or staining your deck, can lead to a quicker return of grime and damage. Create a maintenance schedule to ensure your deck stays in top condition.

  1. Rushing the Job

Taking your time when pressure washing is essential for achieving the best results. Rushing can lead to uneven cleaning, missed spots, and potential damage. Plan your deck cleaning on a day when you have enough time to complete the job thoroughly.