Will Pressure Washing Remove Deck Paint? (What You Should Know)

Keeping a clean deck is important to maintaining both the appearance and the function of your outdoor space. But over time, dirt, grime, and mildew can build up, making it difficult to keep your deck looking its best.

One common question is whether pressure washing can remove deck paint. In this blog post, we’ll explore the answer to that question and provide some tips on how to best clean your deck.

Answer To The Question Will Pressure Washing Remove Deck Paint:

Pressure washing can remove deck paint, especially if the paint is older or loose. Nozzles of 15-25 degrees will often remove deck paint. If you want to avoid removing your deck paint, use a nozzle that is wider than 25 degrees and has a lower PSI. 

In the rest of this article, we will discuss both how to remove deck paint with a pressure washer and how to avoid it. No matter your outdoor project, we’ve got you covered.

Pressure Washing to Remove Deck Paint

Pressure washing is an easier alternative to the backbreaking work of removing old paint by scraping and chipping. If you’re looking to repaint your deck, removing the previous layer of paint ensures your new coat sticks better and lasts longer.

Not all pressure washers will effectively strip off old deck paint. You’ll need to use a pressure washer with the correct PSI, size, nozzle, pump, and power source.

Best PSI to Remove Paint

PSI stands for pounds per square inch. This refers to the amount of cleaning pressure the pressure washer will produce per surface inch. Your machine may also state its pressure in GPM, or gallons per minute.

The standard washers advertised for cleaning driveways and walkways will not have enough pressure to get the job done. Aim to use a pressure washer unit in the 2000-4000 PSI range. Anything less won’t strip off the paint and anything higher may damage the wood underneath.

Pressure Washer Size

The size of the pressure washer often matches its PSI, but you may be able to find compact washers with high pressures as well. Anything too tiny could boast a high PSI but risk breakdown after extended use.

Be aware that most pressure washers can easily weigh 50-70 pounds, so be prepared with additional help to transport the machine to and from your back deck.

Read customer reviews whenever possible and make sure the washer is the appropriate size to take on the area of your deck.

Pressure Washer Nozzles

The nozzle of the machine is key to the pressure washing process. Firstly, make sure it is secure to avoid any mishaps, especially if switching out the nozzle for a new one.

Pressure washer nozzles are built in a V shape that disperses the water. This V can be wider or narrower depending on your needs. The difference in width is called the degree angle, and nozzles are often color-coded according to their angle. Below are the general uses for the most common pressure washer nozzle angles.

Nozzle Degree Angle

Best Used For

0° (red)

-Spot cleaning on hard and unpainted surfaces, like concrete

-Can reach high zones

15° (yellow)

-Intense cleaning of hard and unpainted surfaces, like driveways, brick walkways, unpainted stucco

25° (green)

-Standard cleaning for most unpainted surfaces, lawn furniture, gutters, concrete, brick

40° (white)

-Detailed cleaning of painted surfaces, RVs, painted brick and stucco, wood, painted siding

As you can see in the chart above, anything below 40° is recommended for unpainted surfaces, as the pressure will strip away paint. If this is what you’re aiming for, then a nozzle of around 15°-25° is ideal to remove your deck paint.

Do not use a 0° pressure washer nozzle, as it can damage the wood.

Pressure Washer Pump

You can find pressure washers with three types of pumps: axial cam pumps, triplex plunger pumps, and wobble plate pumps.

Axial cam pumps are the most common for residential pressure washing. This type of pump, along with wobble plate pumps, uses pistons and is directly driven by a drive shaft.

Wobble plate pumps can come in budget-friendly and high-end forms. They can also be used in residential settings.

Triplex plunger plates are the most advanced and efficient, making them ideal for industrial zones or large surface areas.

Pressure Washer Power Source

Pressure washers are usually powered by either gas or electricity. Gas washers are best for regular use, whereas electric pressure washers are excellent for using now and again.

Electric pressure washers are also quieter than gas washers, but less portable as you’d need to be near an outlet during use.

Pressure Washing without Removing Paint

If you’re looking to clean your deck without removing your paint, not to worry. You can do so by choosing a residential pressure washer with a PSI between 1500-1800 and a nozzle greater than 25°.

If you adhere to these parameters and pass over your deck lightly only once or twice, you should easily remove all grime and dirt without stripping the paint color underneath.

Tips for Pressure Washing Your Deck

Pressure washing your deck takes a bit of preparation. Consider these tips when getting ready to pressure wash, whether it be for spring cleaning or to strip your deck’s paint.

  • Standard decks will take an hour or two to pressure wash, but you’ll want to set aside extra time for setting up the area.
  • Be prepared to get wet. It’s almost inevitable that your clothes and shoes end up absorbing some of the sprayed water.
  • Avoid pressure washing any surface area that seems damaged, crumbling, or weak.
  • Wear goggles when using your pressure washer and avoid using the nozzle near your hands, feet, or body. Never point the pressure washer at others, even when it’s off.

How to Pressure Wash Your Deck

Now that you’ve chosen the right pressure washer and are prepared for the task, it’s time to get the job done.

  • Keep your nozzle about 1-1.5 feet from the surface of your deck
  • Test the pressure and the machine in an inconspicuous area, like a small corner
  • Start with a low PSI, slowly increasing it until you find the right pressure for the job
  • Starting at your house and moving outwards, begin to pressure wash your deck in a sweeping motion. Focus on keeping the distance between the nozzle and your deck consistent.

Final Thoughts

Pressure washing can be used to remove deck paint or to clean and preserve the paint. The final product depends on the PSI and nozzle you choose. No matter your end goal, a pressure washer is a sure way to get you there faster and with ease.

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