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How to Pressure Wash a Fence

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Fences are often neglected as the last thing people consider when cleaning up their yards. This is especially true of wooden ones that could use a fresh coat of stain or paint. While it’s wonderful to have a great-looking fence to enjoy looking at, a clean fence can be a cost-effective boon to property values if you’re trying to sell.

With that in mind, pressure washing your fence is a great way to revitalize it by removing years of grime and dirt. Here’s a quick guide on how to do it.

Before Getting Started

When getting ready to pressure wash your fence, remove any hazards that pose a threat to you – or, conversely, your pressure washer to the object in question. Pressure washers put out enough PSI to do more than just break the skin, so make sure there are no pets, people, plants, or other objects you want to protect are in the way. Be sure to check what could be behind the fence you are spraying so that you are not potentially hurting any neighbors or anything on the other side. The same goes for removing any loose debris like rocks, nails that have fallen out, or other junk that can turn into a dangerous projectile.

Once you’ve cleaned up and prepped the area, choose the proper spray tip. For fences, we recommend the green (25º) nozzle around 1,500 PSI. Especially if you’re cleaning an older wooden fence, selecting a lower PSI alongside a gentle detergent can go a long way with stripping grime without damaging the fence.

Finally, be mindful of runoff, especially if your fence butts up against flowerbeds, defilades, or low-sided basements. Pressure washers can put out upwards of 240 gallons per hour and can easily flood dips in your yard. Moreover, making sure cleaning chemicals don’t leach into the ground or your beloved’s petunias is also important, so be sure to plan your capture methods appropriately.

Get to Washing

Start by wetting down the fence’s surface; depending on your supplies, equipment, and the level of built-up grime, you may want to apply a detergent in this same phase. While 4,000 PSI is the recommended starting point for most wooden fences, start low and work your way up. The goal is to get the cleanest result with the least amount of pressure to avoid damaging the surface. Anything higher can send splinters flying.

It may be worth it to use a brush attachment when getting the initial dirt off and to create a good lather, there are many different types and not all of them will fit. Most gas pressure washer attachments will be universal however electric machines tend to be brand-specific so check with your model before grabbing one.


Be sure to wash with the grain of the wood. This will further reduce the chance of splintering and save you time buffing out any fuzz from the wood when you finish. Please note that if you have any stain or paint on the fence, pressure washing will remove it.

While you are pressure washing your fence, it is good to stop halfway through and check your runoff, ensuring it makes it to a safe end destination, especially if you use detergents. The last thing you want is to accidentally harm grass and plants surrounding the fence, not to mention potentially violating local ordinances regarding water runoff. 

Rinsing and Sealant

Once everything’s clean, rinse off the fence with a gentle jet of water. You can then take care of any additional scrubbing or potential sanding to get the surface clean and smooth again. Once dried, you’ll need to reapply any paint, stain, or sealants to protect the fence from the elements while giving it a new lease on life with a shiny new coat.

When staining a fence, it is recommended to do one section at a time to keep the same consistency. Applying it with the grain and keep a stain brush on hand to rub in any runoff or drips so that you get a nice even finish. This is the most tedious part of the project but is paramount that is done correctly as once the stain dries, that is it. 

Make Your Fence the Talk of the Neighborhood

Pressure washing your fence is a great spring- and summertime project but it can also be very time-consuming. If you want to get your fence back in tip-top shape without the hassle, reach out to the helpful pros here at Arlington Pressure Washing and we’d love to help you get your face back to its former glory.

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