Should You Pressure Wash Your Deck Before Staining? (What You Need To Know)

Having a deck calls for a lot of year-round maintenance, whether it’s cleaning, sweeping, painting, or staining, there’ll always be something for you to do every time the warmer weather begins and you start to make use of your deck again.

Some people will use a pressure washer for their deck before they stain it, but is this really necessary and could it just be done with some cleaning solution and a brush?

Should You Pressure Wash Your Deck Before Staining (What You Need To Know)

There is even some confusion as to whether you should use a pressure washer on your deck or not, some people say it’s safe to do so whilst others warn people against it to keep your deck in the best condition possible. 

We’ll be clearing up this uncertainty and providing you with all the answers regarding if you should pressure wash your deck before staining and also the other preparation steps you’ll need to take before you even consider staining your deck. 

Should You Pressure Wash Your Deck?

The question is not so much a matter of should, but more can you pressure wash your deck? The answer is yes, but it should only be done as a last resort as pressure washing your deck can damage it by causing it to expand and warp from the high-pressure water. 

It may also take your deck longer to dry if you use a pressure washer and if you put the stain on before the wood has dried thoroughly it can trap moisture and will lead to rotting. 

Before considering a pressure washer, try using a deck cleaner, scrubbing brush, and your garden hose to get rid of the grime and debris build-up on your deck – yes, it may take a bit longer but it’ll prevent the wood from getting damaged. 

However, if your deck is super old and dirty and you’ve exhausted all the manual efforts of cleaning it, then it may be time to bring in the pressure washer to get it as clean as possible. 

Using a pressure washer on your deck will be better than not cleaning it at all, as you’ll need a clean and smooth surface for the new stain to stick to properly. 

How To Properly Use a Pressure Washer On Your Deck

So you’ve decided to use the pressure washer to clean your deck, that’s great, but you need to be careful so you don’t damage the wood.

Use a tip on your pressure washer that has a wide fan width, hold it at least 10 inches away from the wood and try to use it on the lowest possible pressure. Softwood decks can tolerate less pressure whereas hardwoods may be able to endure higher water pressures. 

Use a sweeping brush when the deck before washing to brush away excess debris and dust from the surface. 

Try to use deck cleaner across your decking before washing to break up some of the more stubborn stains or build-up, then it’ll require less pressure from the washer to get rid of it when you’re spraying. 

Spray one deck board at a time so you can keep tabs on what you’ve cleaned and what you haven’t so you don’t end up going over parts again and again and putting too much pressure on the wood.

We’d advise against pressure washing your railings and posts of your wooden deck, just because they are not as sturdy. Try using a bucket of soapy water for these areas.

How Soon After A Pressure Wash Can You Stain Your Deck?

How long you should wait after pressure washing your deck before staining it will depend on the weather conditions around that time. After pressure washing the wood will retain moisture, so you should try to leave it at least 48 to 72 hours before you consider staining it to make sure it’s thoroughly dry. 

We do not recommend staining a wet deck as the stain won’t properly adhere to the wood and it’ll fade quicker. 

How Can I Clean My Deck Without A Pressure Washer?

If you don’t have a pressure washer to use for your deck or you’re not so keen on using one, then there are other ways you can achieve a clean-looking deck that’s ready for staining. 

Before you wash your deck, brush away excess debris and dirt with a sweeping brush.

Using a sponge or a mop with a deck cleaning solution should be sufficient for cleaning your deck and then rinsing it off with a garden hose. 

We’d recommend letting the cleaning solution sit on the surface for a few minutes to break down grime build-up.

If you don’t have a store-bought deck cleaning solution, you can use white vinegar, water, and baking soda to make up a homemade solution. 

Preparation Steps You’ll Need To Do Before Staining Your Deck

If your deck hasn’t fully faded from the previous stain, then we recommend using a stain stripper on the wood before you begin washing it. Sometimes when a new stain is applied over an existing stain, you’ll find that it will begin to peel off within a year. 

Once you’ve stripped your stain you’ll want to brush all the excess dirt and grime off to make it easier to clean. Then you can choose to use a pressure washer for cleaning or a more manual method, a deck cleaning solution will make the cleaning process easier for you.

Then once the deck is clean, leave it to dry for around 72 hours, or longer, if it’s humid outside or if it rains. 

Make sure the weather is dry but not humid or windy when you plan to stain your deck and the days following.

To increase the durability of your stain, make sure to prime your deck beforehand and wait for it to dry.

Apply your chosen stain and wait for it to dry for 24 hours before you think about reapplying another coat. 

When you’re happy with the outcome of your deck stain, wait for it to dry for 24 hours before stepping on it or moving your outdoor furniture back into place.