How to estimate a wooden deck pressure washing job.

Pressure washing and treating wooden decks can be quite an involved process. If you are looking to offer such services, you need to do more than show up to a job site and spray the wood with as high of a pressure as you can get. There are many ways you can mess up a deck by doing the wrong thing. Let’s take a look at this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and see what issues you need to be mindful of in order to perform a proper pressure washing job at a decent price.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I was wondering how much to charge for a power washing a deck, and treating it. The deck is around 15′x15′.

I have a 1600 psi pressure washer. From what I can tell, no one has ever treated the deck before.”

A second lawn care business owner suggested “coming up with an estimate to pressure wash and treat the deck all depends on a number of factors. Do you know the steps to restore a deck or are you just going to hit it with pressure? If all you plan to do is to hit it with pressure do yourself a favor and sub-contract it out to a wood restoration professional.

I have a guy around here that runs a start up power washing business and advertises $75 to clean and $75 to stain a deck but with him, the customer must buy the stain. It’s amazing how much business he brings me because he does such a bad job.

I constantly get work for these same decks he has damaged and I charge in the $500 to $1500 range because I care for the final look of the wood. Sometimes I even have to repair the damage done by guys like him and homeowners that do not have the proper knowledge.

My price for that deck size you mentioned, off the top of my head, would be $630 to $750 range and that would include the stain. I can’t afford to let a pressure washing customer buy the stain, as my reputation is worth more than the crap you buy at the local big box stores.

What I am trying to get across to you is the fact that if you damage the the power washing customer’s deck, you can damage the relationship with your customer. It would be better for you to refer the work and keep mowing than to damage the deck and lose the lawn contract also. To see some good and bad quality results, do an internet search for deck staining and look at the before and after photos and you will see quality companies vs. trunk slammer. If you can take care of your customer in a positive manner, you build the trust that they always look for.

The damage you can cause a deck can be anything from lines cut into the wood from using too narrow of a tip like the 0 degree or not keeping the wand moving. The other damage is caused by too much pressure. Wood has both hard and soft parts to it. What happens when you use too much pressure is the softer wood is blasted away leaving what is known as raised grain.

Once the wood is damaged there are only a few things you can do.

1. sand Sand SAND
2. Replace
3. Flip the boards (this only works when it has not been done before)

Either way it is very costly to the homeowner and I don’t even want to think about the costs if they happen to have IPE or Cedar. It can be Very Very expensive.

The secret to getting great results, is a mixture of the right pressure, keeping the wand moving, and to use the right cleaner. You need to use the proper cleaner for the job and every one is different depending on the condition of the wood and if there is an existing sealer on the wood already. I normally use the 40 degree tip and try and get as close to 500 PSI as possible and still get the job done. I do occasionally have to sand afterward but that is just the nature of the wood.

The main reason for the sanding is water raises the grain of the wood.

I have worked with wood for 30 years and before I quote any pressure washing job, I have to see the deck and figure out what is going on with it. My price also depends on what the client wants done. This will determine what tip we will use, what amount of pressure, and how long it will take. Depending on what they want on the deck to look like afterward, we will apply Thompsons Water Seal. If they want it painted or some other product, then we will only pressure wash and apply the paint.

So keep all these things in mind when you are estimating a wood deck pressure washing job. Find out what the customer wants and explain to them how you will achieve the desired end result.”

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