Pressure Washing a Fence Correctly – Ultimate Guide

Published by: | Updated: January 31, 2023
JCS Refresh How To Pressure Wash A Fence

Have you been putting off cleaning your fence?

Fences are frequently neglected in maintenance but provide much more than security. They shield your home and belongings from prying eyes, block out unwanted noise, keep your pets safe, and make your yard a cozy retreat.

However, cleaning them might be challenging.

In this article, we created a comprehensive guide to help you start pressure washing your fence so you can restore its integrity and add a few more years to it.

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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?

Be sure to learn more about our fence cleaning services and visit the JCS pricing page for specials!

Quick answer

Before we get too far, here’s a quick recap of what’s ahead.

Here’s how to pressure wash your fence:

  1. Read the instructions for your pressure washer first
  2. Prepare and secure the area or any surface that needs protection
  3. Apply the cleaner to your fence
  4. Spray off the solution using the pressure washer
  5. Allow time to dry

Quick questions before starting

Preparation is critical; more is needed than having your machine ready. You need to know if you can do the task, what supplies you’ll need for the job, and understand how your pressure washer works.

How difficult is this to do?

In terms of difficulty, pressure washing your fence falls into the medium category. 

To carry out this task correctly, you must understand four things: the amount of pressure to apply, the nozzle to use, the spray pattern, and the cleaning product.

How long does it take?

Cleaning a 500-square-foot fence will take around 2 hours (more if it’s larger or dirtier).

How much do materials cost?

  • Pressure washer – $160 to $380, or $40 to $100 per day if renting
  • Cleaner or detergent – $20 to $29
  • Wire brush – $5 to $7
  • Rotating scrub brush – $20 to $26
Remember, doing this yourself will always be cheaper, but it might come at a cost. Learn more about fence cleaning costs in our complete guide.

Items needed

As we quickly touched on, you’ll need four essential items to pressure wash your fence, whatever the material may be.

Pressure washer

The machine of your choice is first on the list. The price ranges from $160 to $380, depending on the PSI and GPM, and whether you want to use a gas or electric pressure washer.

Light-duty pressure washers with 1500 to 1900 PSI can work on soft and hardwood, but if you’re also washing other exterior surfaces of your home or your driveway, choose a medium or heavy-duty pressure washer. 

The cost of renting a pressure washer can range from $40 to $100 per day, plus any additional fees for picking up and returning the unit. 

jcs refresh how to pressure wash a fence

Cleaner or detergent

Choose an effective and safe detergent for your fence material because some wooden fences are delicate. A good cleaning solution can cost between $20 and $29.

Wire brush

A must-have tool for applying the solution to your fence’s tight corners, these can range from $5 to $7.

Rotating scrub brush

This brush attachment can help break down dirt on more deep stains and costs between $20 and $26.

The average total cost is around $263, but this can vary depending on whether you buy a machine or rent one and the tools you’ll choose to use.

How to pressure wash a fence

Your fence protects your property and deserves that extra care to boost your home’s curb appeal. 

Regular washing prevents harmful growths and protects your family, neighbors, and pets.

1. Understand your machine

Before starting any action, we suggest familiarizing yourself with the pressure washer. If this isn’t your first rodeo, skip this step and start prepping the area.

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2. Prepare and secure your work area

While moving plants away from the area is better, if it’s not feasible, you can place a drop cloth to cover any parts or plants that need protection from chemicals or intense pressure. Other items to keep in mind are (moveable) structures or assets.

3. Apply the cleaning solution to your fence

Apply the solution to your fence, utilizing the bottom-up method to avoid streaking. We also advise working in sections because you don’t want the solution drying before it’s rinsed.

You will only need to let the solution sit for 5-10 minutes. 

If you are faced with tough stains, attach a rotating scrub brush to your wand to help loosen it up.

4. Spray off the solution

After 5-10 minutes, use a 25-degree nozzle to rinse off the solution using the top-bottom method. Remember that for softwood, use 500 – 800 PSI; for hardwood, you can go up to 1,300 PSI.

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5. Allow time to dry

Wait for 24 to 48 hours for the fence to dry completely- this is ideal if you plan to put stain, sealer, or paint after cleaning.

To learn more about specifics, be sure to read our complete guides about:

Tips and safety considerations 

Below are some tips and safety considerations we highly suggest you consider.

Always point your wand in a safe direction

Point your wand away from people, animals, and electrical outlets. High-pressure water can cause severe injuries and property damage.

Test the pressure before starting

Before cleaning, test the pressure on a small or hidden area to ensure it’s at the right PSI setting and will not damage anything.

Use the correct nozzle

Our recommended nozzle tip is the 25-degree, or green nozzle tip. 

A lower-degree nozzle may cause damage to your fence, while a higher-degree nozzle might need more pressure to remove dirt and debris from your wall.

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Choose the correct type of detergent

The type of soap you use is critical. Choose one that is safe for your fence material and your machine. Different surfaces require different types of soap. 

To learn more, visit our article about what soap to use with a pressure washer.

Wear protective equipment

Dirt, debris, and cleaning solutions can easily backsplash on your eyes and body while pressure washing. Wear safety goggles and appropriate protective equipment.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions people ask us when they pressure wash their fences.

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please contact us, and someone from our team will get back to you. 

Is it OK to pressure wash a wood fence?

Yes, pressure washing wooden fences are safe if you use a low PSI and the proper nozzle tip.

What tip should I use to pressure wash a wood fence?

We recommend using the 25-degree or green nozzle tip for wooden fences.

How much PSI do you need to pressure wash a wood fence?

Softer woods require 500 to 800 PSI, while harder woods require 1200 to 1500 PSI.

To learn more, check out our complete guide about fence PSI settings.

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How do you remove green algae from a wooden fence?

Using your cleaner or a mixture of a half cup of plain white vinegar and a gallon of water, apply the solution to the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, use your scrub brush in a circular motion to remove the stain.

How long does it take to pressure wash a fence?

A 500-square-foot fence takes about 2 to 3 hours to clean.

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How do you make an old fence look new?

We recommend pressure washing your fence every 2-3 years. Moreover, you should pressure wash your fence before staining. Here are some examples of pressure washed fences before and after being cleaned:

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It’s essential to take care of your fence because it’s an extension of your home that gives you privacy and security. 

Knowing how much pressure to apply, what nozzle to use, the kind of spray pattern, and the type of cleaning product are all crucial for cleaning your fence without damaging it.

If you’re new to using a pressure washer, you can read our guide on using a pressure washer.

Thanks for reading!