Can You Use a Surface Cleaner on a Deck?

Washing your deck can take a long time if you’re using a brush. Anyone who owns a pressure washer surface cleaner understands how this machine can make jobs much easier. But can you use a surface cleaner on a deck?

You can use a surface cleaner on your deck, as long as you follow the necessary precautions. In the sections below we will outline the step-by-step process for the most efficient cleaning method.

What is a Surface Cleaner?

A surface cleaner is a pressure washer attachment used for flat ground surfaces. The unique design makes it far easier to clean large areas compared to the standard pressure washer wand.

What separates surface cleaners from nozzles is their ability to clean evenly. These attachments spray water in a circular motion, so there won’t be any ugly streaks or lines left when finished (like you might find from nozzles).

Most residential surface cleaners will be anywhere from 10-inches to 24-inches in size. Smaller cleaners are ideal for sidewalks and patios, where larger cleaners work best on driveways.

Can You Use a Surface Cleaner on a Deck?

It’s perfectly safe to use a surface cleaner on a deck, as long as you understand what this attachment is capable of. Most people think of pressure washers as powerful machines that can strip paint directly off from wood.

But pressure washers are only as powerful as their attachments. A 0-degree attachment is the most aggressive nozzle. It can damage many different material types – so you need to be careful. However, surface cleaners are not that aggressive.

The main reason is that a surface cleaner attachment spreads the flow of water, so it’s not focused on one area. They will delivery enough cleaning power at a much safer rate compared to a 0-degree, or 15-degree nozzle.

With all of that being said, a surface cleaner can chip away old paint that is already flaking off. It may also break through deck boards if the wood is rotting as well. But this kind of damage will only happen if your deck is in bad condition.

How to Use a Surface Cleaner on a Deck

It’s important to follow the correct process if you want to produce the best results possible. In order to effectively remove all dirt from your deck, you will need to give yourself plenty of time. This will allow you to follow all of the steps listed below.

1. Take Away Furniture

Before beginning this outdoor cleaning project you will need to remove all of the furniture from your deck. This includes any chairs, tables, and even your grill.

Grills can be heavy, but you need to have a clean workspace before starting. It’s important to remove any of these objects for two reasons. For starters, you don’t want furniture to get in your way during the cleaning process.

It will be annoying to work around these items. But you also don’t want to damage them and create more problems for yourself.

2. Remove Any Debris

After all of the furniture has been set aside, you can clean any surface debris from the deck. Leaves, sticks, and any other contaminants need to be off the deck before using the surface cleaner.

These things will get in your way and they could damage the machine. You can either use a broom or a leaf blower to clean off the surface. A long handle broom is ideal, because it will save your back during the process.

It’s no fun to get on your hands and knees to clean things off a floor. At the end of the day it will take more time and energy. Using a leaf blower is by the the easier method.

3. Use the Surface Cleaner

Now you can finally do the main step to washing a deck. Attach the surface cleaner to your power washer in order to begin. Remember to move slowly and never let the surface cleaner stop during the process.

This will create an ugly mark that is difficult to remove. Follow horizontal and vertical motions so that you can wash the entire surface area. Going too fast can also create circles – which is why it’s so important to give yourself enough time for this project.

Don’t be afraid to go over areas you have already passed for a deeper clean. This will take longer, but you will quickly find out that some dirt will need more cleaning time to be fully removed.

4. Sand the Deck

If you are only looking to clean your deck you can skip these last two steps. But if you want to restore the wood you will need to sand the surface after cleaning. Make sure to wait until the deck is fully dry before sanding.

Instead of using a handheld sander, it helps to rent a heavy duty machine. You can find one at most hardware stores and they will make the sanding process so much easier.

Follow the same approach you did with the surface cleaner where you use overlapping motions. And make sure to sand with the grain and not against it, because this will create a better looking finish.

5. Seal the Wood

Once the sanding stage has been completed you can finish up the job by applying a high quality wood sealer. The surface of the wood will be exposed after you have sanded, so you will need to put down a fresh layer of protection.

A wood sealer will leave a clear film on the surface of the deck that will enhance the natural finish. It will provide a rich, glossy look and make the grain stand out. You can apply deck sealer with a brush and roller.

Use the brush on hard to reach areas (like the railing) and the roller on the deck surface. Make sure to wait at least 24 hours before walking on the deck surface, as it needs enough time to dry.

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