How to Pressure Wash a Fence

how to pressure wash a fenceIf you want your fence to last longer and look better you’ll need to know how to pressure wash a fence. This surprisingly easy task can also restore a fence that’s turned grey or black, making it look brand new and helping you avoid costly replacements before you really need them.

How Dirty is Your Fence?

If you’re simply getting dirt, peeling paint or old stain off of your fence simple water will often do the trick. However, if you’re trying to remove years of mold and mildew or black drip stains from screws and nails then you’re going to need a little extra help.

You can create your own inexpensive, effective cleaning solution by using 1/4 cup bleach and 1/4 cup laundry detergent in every gallon of water in your pressure washer. You don’t have to rely on expensive cleaning solutions.

If you’re cleaning a painted wood or vinyl fence you can also get a brush attachment for your pressure washer that will help you scrub particularly stubborn spots.

Choose the Right Tip

Pressure washer tips come in different sizes, each with its own spray width. The wider the spray, the lower the pressure.

So a 15 degree tip would give you a very thin, focused spray while delivering a huge blast of pressure. A 40 degree tip would give you very little pressure in a wider, slower spray.

If you have a wooden fence you should be especially careful to choose only a 25 degree tip. Any smaller tip could potentially damage your fence by cutting visible marks into the wood.

Using a 25 degree tip is a good rule of thumb for other fences as well. It offers enough pressure for effective cleaning but not so much pressure that you have to worry about any kind of damage.

Spraying the Fence

Before you begin be sure to check the connections on your pressure washer carefully. Any loose nozzles or tips can be a hazard when the water starts flowing.

Make sure you are wearing old clothes when you clean your fence since there is a chance you can get very dirty while performing this task. Next, stand 3-4 feet away from the fence.

Now, spray in long lines, working from top to bottom and following the grain of the wood. When you’ve sprayed every plank you’ll want to do a final sweep at the bottom of the fence to catch any additional debris.

Here is a video which will demonstrate the technique while giving you some additional tips:

If pressure washing your fence doesn’t return it to “new,” then it may be time for a new coat of stain or a potential replacement.


  1. Blake says:

    We have recently started our new pressure washing company and came across this article.

    We really appreciate you taking the time to educate people on this stuff, it helps people like us with small businesses out a lot.

    Pressure washing is by no means an exciting topic to write about, but you did a good job keeping it entertaining. Great work!

  2. Rick Siri says:

    Great work on this! Very informative, will try your tips soon!

  3. Skylerjeah says:

    I am very satisfied with this guide and also i agree with you that you can create your own inexpensive, effective cleaning solution by using 1/4 cup bleach and 1/4 cup laundry detergent in every gallon of water in your pressure washer. You don’t have to rely on expensive cleaning solutions.

  4. Joshua Grady says:

    Pressure washing fences can be a pain. Not only time-consuming but a task that is often put off way too long. Just make sure to clean your fence in the summer so it can dry out completely prior to applying another sealant. Great blog!!!

  5. Brian K says:

    If water base stain has dried drip runs what can you do to fix ? Does the same process work with oil base dried drip runs ? What is the best stain to use in a very hot dry climate ( midland tx ) to stain and protect your fence ?

  6. Steve says:

    After washing the fence what do you get the white powder residue off the fence?

    • BCL says:

      The white deposits you are referring to are caused by hard water – usually Ca, or Mg deposits, that are a challenge to remove even in power washing. Also, it depends on the severity of the stains, and how long they have built up – the longer, the more difficult to fully remove. Try one fence section as a test, and use a #25 tip. Hold the PW the about 6-12 inches from the fence, moving up and down with the grain of the planks – be careful not to damage the wood. Let dry. If results are not fruitful, you may need to replace the planks prior to staining. Once completed (PW or plank replacement), follow the procedures to stain your fence. A top quality deck stain will last twice as long as med, or low quality stains – only requiring a redo, about every 3-4 years, depending on the climate you live in. SW makes the best quality (IMO), two grades of stain, with an abundance of colors. Also, decide if you want to see the wood grain or not. If some staining still shows, go with a “solid” quality stain that will hide the remaining stains. If there are no stains, either solid or transparent will work just fine.

  7. Dave says:

    What psi pressure washer do you recommend? I’ve heard 1500-2000…

    • Ray says:

      I would really like to see an answer to thus question. Electric seem to put out about 1700 psi, with gas ones over 3000, but triple or more in price.

  8. Rose says:

    How long do I wait after pressure washing the fence, to apply stain ? Also what is a quick and easy way to apply stain ? Thank you

    • A-1 Fence says:

      You’ll want to wait at least 24 hours – and obviously make sure it hasn’t rained or anything during that 24 hour period. If it’s really humid in your area, you may need to wait longer. You just want to be sure the fence is completely dry before applying any stain.

      As for quick ways to apply stain, you can spray it on but be careful of running stain. If the stain does run you can go over it with a roller if you catch it quick enough. You can also roll the stain on. To be honest, though, you’ll get the best results by brushing the stain. Yes, it’s the slowest way to stain a deck but it produces the best results.

    • Charles Hileman says:

      How do I get the white residue off of my wood fence after using a detergent then power washing it with a 2800 PSI Troy-Bilt power washer

  9. David says:

    Great tips on pressure washing a fence! This is one of the more difficult parts of pressure washing.

  10. Great work on your blog, very informative. I think you are correct in all your instructions.

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