It has been raining for a few weeks now. When the sun finally comes up, you get out to inspect the state of your house. Everything seems fine, although some of your flowers have wilted… nothing that a few hours of changing mulch can’t fix. The deck and porch look fine. In fact, the deck has a nice glisten to it.
Suddenly, your gaze falls on the deck and there it stands in all its glory… caked in mud at the bottom and covered in dirt all over. The muddy sludge has hardened and the gray and black streaks on the wood are destroying the curb appeal of your house.
It’s time to bring out the big gun!
And by that, we mean a pressure washer. Before you start scrubbing the fence with soapy water and create even a bigger mess, we suggest that you think things over first. You, down on your knees, using elbow grease to remove the stains to no avail… that’s pretty time consuming and, not to mention, exhausting.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how to clean a wood fence with a pressure washer:
How to Pick the Right Nozzle
In order to clean a wood fence, you need to know which nozzle to use. A pressure washer comes with different nozzles, five to be exact. The sixth can be bought separately. Every nozzle is color coded to help you remember their cleaning purpose.
The following chart explains each nozzle’s use:
|Nozzle Color||Angle||What It’s Used For||Surfaces|
|Red||0°||Removes debris and tough stains||Metal and concrete|
|Yellow||15°||Removes dirt, paint or mildew||Used for surface prep such as walkways and driveways|
|Green||25°||Basic washing surfaces||Cars, decks, driveways, boats and lawn furniture|
|White||40°||Fragile surfaces||Flower pots, windows, blinds etc.|
|Black||65°||Applying detergent and soap||Has a low pressure and wide orifice for extra coverage|
|Turbo||25° and 1800 RMP to 3000 RPM||Removes caked-on grime and dirt
|Helps clean tough surfaces such as brick walls and concrete|
Now that you know which nozzle to use, let’s move on to the steps:
- Power Washer
- Detergent (DIY Soap Bucket)
- Soft-Bristled Brushes
- Paint and Paint Roller
- Staining Oil (For Cedar Wood)
- Safety Goggles and Coveralls
A Short Guide to Cleaning a Wood Fence With a Pressure Washer
Add Soap to Your Pressure Washer
Wear your safety goggles and coveralls because it’s about to get messy.
Attach the hose to the weighted strainer and place it into a bucket. Make sure that the strainer is touching the bottom of the bucket. Attach the hose’s other end to the inlet valve. Fill the bucket with soap. Attach the black nozzle and spray the fence with soap water. Start spraying from the bottom and slowly move upwards. Take your time on sections that have tough stains.
Let the Soap Work Its Magic
Leave the soap in place for at least 10 minutes. No matter how big your fence, do not leave the soap on it for more than 15 minutes. This will leave behind white streaks, which will double your cleaning time.
Remove the black nozzle and attach the green nozzle. This will change the spray direction. The spray like water will hit the surface of the fence with just the right pressure and remove any dirt that the soap has loosened up.
Test the Pressure
To make sure that the pressure won’t knock out your fence, test the spray at the bottom on a small section first. Stand two feet away from the fence and press the trigger. In case the pressure does not work on some of the stains, move a little closer. If the stain still stays, you can switch to the turbo nozzle. Again, test the water’s pressure at the bottom and then use it on the entire fence.
*If the rotary nozzle is too hard on the fence then use a scrubber to loosen the grime on that particular section. Make sure that the hose is connected to a cold water tap because hot water raises the wood’s grain, which will cause difficulty in sealing the fence later.
Cleaning the Soap
Cut off the pressure washer’s connection to the soap bucket and attach the hose to a water outlet. When washing away the soap, start from the top of the fence so that the dirty water flows downwards and doesn’t leave any streaks behind.
Let the Fence Dry and Then Paint
Once the fence has been washed, let it dry for 2 days. You need to give the fence enough time so that the water completely evaporates. To check its dryness, press the fence between your thumb and forefinger. If your fingers come away wet, then wait 24 more hours.
If the paint is applied too early, the moisture will lock in and the fence will slowly start to rot overtime.
For simple wood, a fresh coat of paint will make your fence look good as new. If paint is not the issue then use a sealant to give it an extra layer of protection from the sun. For a cedar wood fence, apply staining oil after painting it.
Our Final Thoughts
Isn’t pressure washing easier than manual cleaning? They key to cleaning your fence using a pressure washer is using the right nozzles. Too much pressure and you risk dislodging the fence from its place. For cleaning a wooden surface, the only two nozzles recommended are red and rotary.
If you plan to use soap for cleaning the fence then make sure to buy one that’s specifically made for this purpose. It’s possible that the wood might absorb the chemicals in an ordinary soap and destroy the fence. If the owner’s manual does not mention what type of soap to use then browse online to find one.