Weekend Project: Pressure Washing my Deck

Ok, actually, stripping my deck. I am a paint contractor, but I am also a homeowner. With a never ending “honey do” list. This one has been on the list for…well, a while. What better time to tackle it than when the truck is already loaded up from wood restoration projects all over Chittenden County this summer.

Before. Stripper is being applied working away from the house.

Whether you are a paint contractor, homeowner, or both, one of the biggest components to pulling off a weekend project efficiently is just literally gathering up all the gear required: pressure washer, proper tips, two pump sprayers, chemicals, supply and pressure hoses, safety gear, etc.

Mine is a rather old pressure treated deck that I last refinished three years ago. Like many that I work on professionally, it had a layer of grime over a worn out coating, with grease stains from the grill, bird dookey, scratches from shoveling in the winter, and a whole lot of slimey green mildew formation on the perimeter where water splashes off the roof onto it. I’d been considering replacement, but I am glad I didn’t because it cleaned up nicely.

During. The deck stripper has just been rinsed.

Like many of the wood restoration posts on this blog, this project is a two step chemical process: stripper and neutralizer (or brightener). These chemicals are to be handled with care. Personal protection includes a respirator, rubber boots, gloves, eye protection and no exposed skin. This applies to the entire time frame during which you are dealing with the chemicals. Mixing and shaking in the pump sprayers, and rinsing with the pressure washer.

After. The brightener has been applied and rinsed, and the deck is drying.

After the deck has been stripped (and rinsed) and neutralized (and rinsed), give it another rinse until you are seeing no more soapy residue in the water running off the deck. Then, it needs a bunch of dry time (at least 24 hours), at which point it can inspected for any final tweaking that may be required prior to stain application. A typical condition to look for is “furring” of the wood, referring to raised grain or loose wood fibers hanging around on the surface of the wood.

It is also important to keep the kids and dogs off the deck during this process. After stripping and neutralizing, the deck is wide open to receive wood stain, or any other kind of accidental stains. Have fun and wash safely.

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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  1. Terry says:

    I’m wondering what staing you used on the porch floor?

  2. Rhonda says:

    Hi Scott, I have just recently cleaned my deck and I’m now ready to start the staining process. I previously used a solid stain and plan on doing that again. We are suppose to have several days of nice weather this week, and I’m hoping to stain it this week. Do you have a suggestion of a good brand of stain…so many out there. I want to make sure I use a good one. Thanks for all your great advice!

  3. Chris Haught says:

    Is that Fir? I hear that can be a difficult wood to work with?

  4. Bird dookey?! You are a riot!!

    Keep doing what you do.. and doing it well Topcoat Finishes!

    -Nathan Deneault
    Atlas Coatings & Construction
    (913) 980-3823
    http://atlascoatingsandconstruction.com

    • Hey Nathan, Hope you are having a great summer!

    • C D Painting says:

      Hey Scott,

      I just read your article, I noticed that you said that you did wood restoration projects. What kind of jobs do you do? We are painting contractors in California and I’ve been trying to get into doing more deck work to expand our customer base. In Cali you have restoration companies that do flood damage, termite damage etc…But, I don’t think I have heard of wood restoration, maybe I could add that into my arsenal of work offered. Can you tell me a little about what you do?

      Thanks

      • Scott Burt says:

        CD, we basically strip and restore decks, or clean and refinish them. This category is generally referred to as wood restoration. The term also applies to siding and other exterior surfaces.

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