Stripping Deck Paint With a Pressure Washer (4 Simple Steps)

Published by: | Updated: February 1, 2023
JCS Refresh How To Remove Paint From Deck With Pressure Washer

Exterior painting projects require prep work to achieve that perfectly smooth finish we all crave.

Did you know that the first step starts with a pressure washer? 

A pressure washer helps prepare the surface for a new coat of paint, making it like a clean, blank canvas.

However, without proper knowledge, you might do more harm than good.

In this article, we’ll teach you how to strip paint with a pressure washer, cover the items needed, discuss safety considerations, and other related questions.

Let’s begin!

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About The Author

Meet the expert behind this article. 



Co-owner & Service Director

Hey there, I’m Cody. 

A decade of residential and commercial pressure washing led me to start JCS Refresh. Now I can share my knowledge with folks like you. 

Reading from Washington State?

Contact our team for a quote and you might meet me in person.

Quick Answer

Here’s how to remove paint from a deck with a pressure washer:

  1. First, prepare and secure the surfaces that needs protection
  2. Apply the paint stripper
  3. Pressure wash the surface
  4. Dry the surface before applying the new paint
JCS Refresh How To Remove Paint From Deck With Pressure Washer 1

Questions before starting

Before we dive deeper into the topic, let’s first answer these quick questions:

Can you pressure wash paint off wood? Absolutely, but use the correct PSI and nozzle to avoid damaging the surface.

Use 500 PSI to 800 PSI for softwood and up to 1,300 PSI for hardwood. Additionally, we recommend using the green 25 degrees nozzle, which is commonly used for siding, decks, sidewalks, and driveways

How difficult is this to do? It can only be easy if you have prior knowledge. To avoid damage, seek the help of local experts. 

How long does it take? For a 500 sq. ft. wood deck, removing paint can take one to three hours, depending on the thickness of the paint. To make the process more efficient, experts typically use paint strippers.

How much do materials cost? The overall cost for materials is less than $100, depending on quality and if you already have a pressure washer.

Items needed

Take note of the following items and equipment:

  • Pressure Washer – $150 to $350
  • Hose – $15 to $130
  • Cleaner – $10 to $60
  • Safety Glass – $4 to $100
  • Earmuff – $4 to $100
  • Drop cloths – $4 to $100
  • High Solvent Roller – $15 to $40
  • Paint Stripper – $20 to $60
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4 steps to remove deck paint with a pressure washer

Here’s an in-depth overview of the steps previously mentioned:

1. Prepare the area

If you have plants, furniture, or fragile objects nearby, moving them away from the deck is best. 

However, if it’s not an option, like windows, doors, or electrical outlets, cover them with a drop cloth or tape.

2. Apply the paint stripper

Carefully apply the paint stripper to the surface and spread it using a high solvent roller. Then, let the solution sit for a few minutes to penetrate the old paint.

We recommend an eco-friendly paint stripper to protect you and the environment. 

You may need multiple applications depending on the toughness. 

JCS Refresh How To Remove Paint From Deck With Pressure Washer

3. Pressure wash the surface

After waiting, the surface is ready to be pressure washed. As a good rule of thumb, you can start if the old paint wrinkles. 

When working, we recommend utilizing a sweeping motion to avoid any stop-and-start marks.

Also, use the green 25-degree nozzle, and don’t forget to use an appropriate PSI setting- around 500 to 800 PSI for softwood or up to 1,300 PSI for hardwood.

JCS Refresh Pressure Washing

4. Dry the surface before applying new paint

Only apply paint once the surface is completely dry to ensure proper coating.

Safety considerations

Don’t forget these safety considerations:

Wear proper clothing

Ensure that you wear appropriate clothing and gear before starting. Dirt, debris, or contaminants can easily splash once water blasts.

Use an eco-friendly paint stripper

Before buying, ensure that it doesn’t contain methylene chloride. This harsh chemical can harm your skin, eyes, liver, and heart.

Utilize proper PSI and nozzle(s)

Not all surfaces are the same, so to avoid damaging your deck, remember to choose the proper PSI setting and nozzle.

JCS Refresh Pressure Washer Nozzle Chart

Test the pressure washer in a safe spot 

Testing a small area is one way to determine if the surface is ready. For example, if the paint quickly blasts away, you can start. Testing also helps you identify if the PSI is correct. 

Never carelessly handle the pressure washer

This is already a no-brainer but always exercise precaution.

Frequently asked questions

Still, have a few questions left? 

We’ve got you covered; check out these frequently asked questions:

How long after pressure washing can I paint?

We strongly suggest waiting 24 to 48 hours, depending on several factors, such as weather and temperature. Most importantly, ensure the surface is completely dry before applying paint.

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What PSI setting is best to strip paint from a deck?

Depending on your deck’s material, we recommended the following PSI settings:

  • Softwood – 500 to 800 PSI
  • Hardwood – up to 1,300 PSI
  • Composite – up to 3,100 PSI

Check out our article about removing deck marks if you’ve accidentally left marks.

How many GPM is needed to strip paint from a deck?

Use between 2.5 to 4 GPM to strip paint from a deck.


Pressure washing can be the best way to strip deck paint by carefully following the steps mentioned in this guide.

However, if you think you can’t confidently handle the project, seek the help of local experts.

Carefully determine if you can do the job yourself or if it’s best to leave it to deck cleaning experts; either or, we hope this article helped you! 

Thank you for reading!