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Your fence was an absolute beauty when it was first installed. But sun, rain and wind make even the strongest fence tired and dull. If you haven’t inspected your fence for a while, go out and take a good look. Is your fence dirty? Did you build it a year ago and are just now getting around to staining it?

Is that…mold?!

All three of these are good reasons to wash your fence. And while it’s perfectly possible to wash your fence by hand – all you need are cleaning fluid, soft cloth, brushes and time – many people prefer the speed and excitement of tools like power washers.

pressure washer in action
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/US Navy

Power vs. Pressure Washing

People often use the terms “power washing” and “pressure washing” interchangeably. The two cleaning methods are very similar except for one minor distinction. Power washers uses hot water, while pressure washers can use water of any temperature.

So which do you use on your fence? Pressure washing works well for cleaning off surface dirt. It’s a good choice if your fence is not too filthy. But if your fence is moldy, has ground-in dirt, or has chewing gum stuck to it, power washing will be more effective. The type of power washer you use will also depend on your fence type.

Here are a few tips for power washing your fence:

  • Absolutely wear protective eyewear. Safety first!
  • Add a little bleach to kill mold.
  • Just now getting around to staining your year-old fence? Washing it first will prep it for staining. But let it dry thoroughly between power washing and staining.
  • Choose the right tip size. Wider tips mean lower pressure. For wooden fences, don’t go any lower than a 25 degree tip or you risk cutting marks into your fence. A 40 degree tip is safer.
  • Don’t use pressure higher than 1800 PSI on a wood fence, as it could splinter or even split the wood.
  • While it’s safe to use a higher pressure on a vinyl fence, it’s seldom necessary.
  • Test the power washer on a small corner of the fence to make sure you have it set on a non-damaging PSI.
  • Hold the sprayer three to four feet away from the fence. Slowly swing the nozzle back and forth like a pendulum.
  • Rinse off any cleaning solution residue with fresh water. Don’t let solution sit for more than 10 minutes.
  • A power washer is not a magic wand. It’s hard work and is physically tiring.
  • Watch out for pets, joggers, texting teens, blind neighbors, or anyone else who might get in your way. Remember, this water is hot and coming out at a very high pressure.
  • When in doubt, read the manual!

Ready for a new fence?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to pressure wash fence before painting?
Yes. Pressure washing fences before painting is recommended because it will remove dirt so it is not “painted” onto the fence.

How much psi do I need to clean my fence?
You need at least 2500 PSI to effectively clean a wood fence.

Can you pressure wash a wooden fence?
Yes, you can pressure wash wooden fences but should use a lower PSI to not damage the wood.

Can you power wash a vinyl fence?
Yes. Power and pressure washing vinyl is an effective way to blast off dirt.

Fence questions? Call us today and we’ll steer you right.