Rent or buy the water?
July 27, 2011 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I need to clean my deck which was pressure washed about 5-7 years ago. I want to paint it afterwards and am wondering which option to take for the cleaning. Rent or own?

If I buy it would be less pressure (as I am reading) and may take longer. Pros are I could use to it clean other things like my plastic shower floor that I cannot get clean and window sills. But will it be enough pressure to clean my leaf stained, moldy deck? I would hate to buy the ~$100 model and not be able to clean my deck which is the primary reason for buying. I cannot spend more than that.

If I rent I will have enough pressure for sure but would not use it on the shower or window sills etc. So single use.

Does anyone have any experience with this?
posted by shaarog to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a Karachi 1650psi electric power washer. It does the deck easily.

I've used gas ones before and they're always seizing up on me. Haven't had any problem with the electric and it cleans concrete and old deck just fine.

Use a semi-clear stain instead of paint on the deck. It'll last longer and not flake.
posted by rich at 1:54 PM on July 27, 2011

I have this pressure washer (or a similar model - I'm not at home at the moment), which appears to be within your budget (OK, $10 over). Not knowing how scuzzy your deck is, but it definitely works for me.

And much like the old saying about a hammer goes, when you have a pressure washer, everything looks like a - um - just want to use the dang thing all the time.
posted by po822000 at 1:57 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you rent one, be careful. I rented a powerful one to strip paint off an old truck and the threads where you attach the different tips were a bit stripped. The tip flew off like a bullet, penetrated the hood and broke the ceramic part off of a spark plug. It easily could have killed someone.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:12 PM on July 27, 2011

This does not answer your question but there is a product that will kill the moldy stuff on your deck. Do a google for "Wet and Forget." It is a miracle product. It kills the green algae and mold immediately. It has saved me so much work. Ace Hardware carries it and you can buy it online.
posted by JayRwv at 3:59 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the answers. Just what I was looking for. I absolutely will treat the mold first and then wash. And I was so hoping I could buy one! Rich and po822000 said I could.
posted by shaarog at 4:25 PM on July 27, 2011

I third that suggestion of buying one. We use ours all the time -- cleaning and then repainting deck, hosing down walls and windows, even paint stripping. It's a lot of fun.
posted by vickyverky at 4:34 PM on July 27, 2011

Pressure washing as a form of paint prep has some drawbacks. It can pump wood fibers full of water and prevent adhesion, at least with coatings that form a film (paint, high-solids stains).
posted by werkzeuger at 7:37 PM on July 27, 2011

A word on pressure washers: what you're looking for is volume, not pressure. 5 gallons/minute at 1350 psi works a ton better than 2 gallon/minute at 5000 psi, and is a lot less likely to damage the surfaces you're cleaning. You're washing things, not sandblasting them. A lot of people forget that, and the result is etched and damaged surfaces. Water is heavy enough as it is, and you want that to be what does the work here, not the fact that you've got a motor that will accelerate it to sufficient speed to take your toes off.

So don't be fooled by the big marketing splashes you see on dinky little machines. Jacking up psi is pretty cheap. But a machine that can actually move a lot of water all at once requires bigger, more expensive machine. If you look at the differences between "normal" and "professional" machines, you'll notice that the latter tend to be higher volume.

But before you do that, go outside with a bucket and a stopwatch and see how much water your faucet can actually put out. The machines I've had the most luck with were in the 4-5 gpm range, but not every house or neighborhood has the supply for that, which is one of the reasons commercial outfits usually brink a tank of their own water with them.* Take 10% off of your calculation to allow for fluctuations in the supply, then go get yourself a machine (buy, rent, whatever) that will put out that much volume. As long as it will put out 1300 psi, you'll be fine.

When you're using the machine, be patient. If you run across a stubborn piece of whatever, give the water a chance to work, or try a different cleaning agent. A mild bleach solution does wonders on mold and mildew, and there are products out there which can strip paint and stain off a deck so effectively that it looks as if it had been built yesterday. Don't just get down there and use the pressure of the machine to scrape stuff off. You'll damage the surface, and this will show up as lines and streaks in your finished product.

*The other is to avoid having to mess with people's faucets, which may already be in use and are rarely convenient to access.
posted by valkyryn at 4:58 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

We bought our pressure washer SPECIFICALLY to prep our deck for painting last summer, and it has become one of my favourite purchases.

It was awesome for the deck - we let it dry out 2 whole days in the sun before painting.
It is awesome for blasting weeds out of our brick path.
It washes your car like you wouldn't believe.
And the outside of your house.
And windows.
Our mouldy shower floor, begone.
Our blackened concrete carport became light grey!
It got rid of weird scaly stuff on our deck's roof.

It's the best household appliance, ever. Fun to use, too.

But please wear boots. SOMEONE may have blasted their own bare foot accidentally and needed to ice it over whimpers all evening.
posted by shazzam! at 8:31 AM on August 8, 2011

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