NEVER Pressure Wash A Deck!

Reblogger Robin Dampier REALTOR®
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker King NC #228932

Wow, thanks to Jay Markanich for this post re decks being pressured washed!  Not a good thing to do and now I realize why our deck was deteriorating after a yearly house power washing since 1994.  Hopefully this info will help others to avoid damaging their decks when power washing.

Sue of Robin and Sue

Original content by Jay Markanich

I tell my neighbors.  I tell my clients.  I tell everybody who will listen.  NEVER pressure wash a deck!  When the pressure-wash companies send their college kids to knock on my door to "wash" my deck, I tell them why they should not be doing that to decks!  When I see their trucks*, they advertise cleaning decks, patios, siding, roofs - you name it!  Don't do it!

The older the deck, the worse the wood reacts to pressure washing.  The big mistake is that companies and homeowners have a tendency to set the pressure way too high.  But even at low pressures the deck can become damaged.

What does pressure washing do?

  • It removes loose material and leaves a gafillion dangerous splinters and gaps.  Those gaps open up further letting in more damaging sun and water.
  • It removes the natural oils in the wood that are not replaced with sealants.
  • It causes wood to dry quickly causing cupping and warping.
  • It causes damage.
  • It loosens nails as the wood expands.
  • It can cause water to enter the house.

So what to do instead?

There are various, excellent, gentle cleansers out there.  Be sure to select cleansers that do not have caustic lye or acid, or say not to use around children, pets or water features.  A company called Dekswood makes an excellent cleanser that can be followed with sealants.  And the so-called "oxygen" cleansers, with the active ingredient of sodium percarbonate, are great and don't damage the wood, the kids or pets, the house or the yard.

You MUST seal your deck after cleaning.  The sun does more damage to your deck than rain and snow.  BE SURE TO USE A SEALANT THAT HAS UV INHIBITORS IN ADDITION TO WATER PROTECTION.  Read the label.  It will tell you what the contents are.  Water proofing alone is not enough.

My recommendation:  Keep your deck gently cleaned and protected and it will last many decades.  Not doing so makes it unsafe and age much faster.

* I once gave my spiel to a guy sitting in his company truck in a parking lot (with a smile on my face) and he told me he would NEVER pressure-wash his deck.  He said he sees what damage it can do later!

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the folder to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Comments 7 New Comment

Anonymous
Post a Comment
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the man to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Anonymous #3
Anonymous
Anonymous

To say "Never pressure wash your deck" probably is not the best advice.

Each material to be pressure washed - stucco, concrete, redwood, pine, oak, concrete, asphalt, etc. - has its own pressure that should be used. For some woods, not all woods, the problems described in Jay's post are inherent to the wood and how the wood was cut. Additionally, by the time the deck "needs to be" pressure washed, many of the problems described by Jay are there already due to lack of simple maintenance.

Pressure washing, however, should never be used for yearly maintenance. Yes, that will cause damage.

When I was doing research at the forest products laboratory at Texas A&M University many decades ago, one of our studies was for the Southern Yellow Pine consortium of lumber companies in the South. The purpose was to determine the optimum water content of the Southern Yellow Pine species (loblolly, slash, shortleaf, and longleaf) for holding, shipping, and destination arrival to help minimize cracks, splits, twisting, and warping. Much of it is dependent on the wood cut (flat, rift, quarter, rotary, etc.) but for that shown in the picture, pressure washing followed by planing can do a great job of restoring it. Of course, when I was building and renovating decks, I would have come back a year later to "finish" the work once the water content of the pine had stabilized and the cracks and splits had manifested themselves.

As with home inspectors and Realtors, the best thing for someone to do is to check the references, education, experience, and years in business of the person or company doing the pressure washing.

July 15, 2010 10:39 PM
Rainmaker
347,661
Robin Dampier REALTOR®
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source
Coldwell Banker King

Thanks Russel for some further clarification on the pressure washing of decks.  Our deck was made of pressure treated wood which hubby re-stained every couple of years until 3 years ago when he painted it.  Don't ask me why -- it's a bad subject!  The last 2 years I noticed the wood starting to splinter in places and the paint just peeling off.  In our case I feel our lack of knowledge on how to maintain the deck plus the pressure washing has harmed it.  Plus I don't think the solution of covering it up with carpeting is the right solution, but, life is too short to more than ponder it.  Not worth marital strife.

Sue of Robin and Sue

July 15, 2010 11:19 PM
Rainmaker
839,534
Joshua Zargari
MJ Decorators Workshop
MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating

A great advise!

July 17, 2010 09:04 PM
Anonymous #6
Anonymous
Anonymous

Hey, Sue - Your problem was not caused by pressure washing the deck. It was caused by painting it after staining it for several years. I'm 99.999999999999999999999% certain that your husband did not prepare the wood properly for painting.

I've pressure washed all types of decks, siding, and roofs in the past 30 years. Never a problem because I knew what I was doing. There are good pressure washing professionals out there. Hmmm. Maybe I need to go back into that business, maybe over in Jay's neck of the woods. I bet I could outmarket him, my good versus his bad. LOL

July 23, 2010 05:20 AM
Rainmaker
347,661
Robin Dampier REALTOR®
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source
Coldwell Banker King

Russel, I know you are right so the deck is one of those subjects hubby and I don't discuss!  Why he went from staining to painting is beyond me but I'm sure there are many things he wonders why I do them!

Sue of Robin and Sue

July 23, 2010 11:55 PM
Anonymous
Post a Comment
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the airplane to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Rainmaker
347,661

Robin Dampier REALTOR®

Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source
Ask me a question
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the foot to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Additional Information