August 31, 2010
If you have a deck or fence that is looking a little worn or worse for wear, there are a few ways of making it look as good as new again. One way is by utilizing a pressure washer. Pressure washing consists of several different elements, which combined; provide the perfect cleaning and protection solution for most wood surfaces.
When you think of pressure washing, there are really three elements at play; water pressure, water temperature, and detergents, chemicals, or cleaning agents. People believe you simply turn on the power washer and start blasting away at the surface and it will instantly wash away all the grime and dirt. That's not really the case as many surfaces can actually be damaged this way and a lot of grime or dirt needs these different elements to break them up and clean them away effectively.
Knowing what surface you're going to wash is the first consideration. If you're looking to remove the green mold or mildew off a wooden fence or deck, you can use a simple solution of water, soap, and bleach. A general amount for each is 1/3 cup of dry laundry detergent, optionally 2/3 cups of a general powered household cleaner, a qt of liquid bleach added to a gallon of water. It's important to use a little bleach as it will actually kill the mildew and prevent it from returning. What most people don't realize is if you simply spray a wooden fence or deck with hot water, although it may look nice and clean, the mildew or mold is still there and will simply return once it's dry. So using bleach is important but be careful not to use too much as it will damage the wood.
A simple search on the internet will reveal many other types of homemade detergent mixtures but you'll find water and bleach are the most common. When attempting to wash off oil or grease, you'll need more than just a bleaching detergent. Check out your local Home Depot or equipment rental shop for detergents that work well on oil and grease. I like to use a detergent called Simple Green for my siding; it seems to work really well. It comes in little dis-solvable packets and I can pick it up at Home Depot. When dealing with grease, again, one of the important ingredients of our element mixture for this is heat, so if you have a pressure washer that's capable of warm water, this will work best on surfaces such as driveways that have oil or grease stains you're trying to get out.
Whether your pressure washing concrete or wood, the important thing to remember about pressure washing is all the elements involved. The process is more than just water pressure; remember to control the three elements of temperature, chemical (detergent), and pressure.