Pressure washing is a popular method for cleaning exterior surfaces due to its efficiency and effectiveness. When it comes to maintaining the appearance and longevity of a wooden fence, one might wonder, "Can you pressure wash a wooden fence?" This comprehensive guide explores the do's and don'ts of pressure washing a wooden fence, ensuring you can undertake this task with confidence while protecting your investment.

Understanding Pressure Washing

Pressure washing uses high-powered water jets to remove dirt, grime, mould, mildew, and other unsightly substances from surfaces. While immensely effective on materials like concrete and metal, wooden surfaces require a more cautious approach due to their softer, more porous nature.

Can You Pressure Wash a Wooden Fence? Yes, But With Caution.

The short answer is yes, you can pressure wash a wooden fence, but it requires careful consideration of the pressure setting and technique to avoid damaging the wood.

Benefits of Pressure Washing a Wooden Fence

  1. Efficiency: Pressure washing can clean a wooden fence faster and more thoroughly than manual scrubbing.
  2. Restoration: It can restore the wood's appearance, making an old fence look nearly as good as new.
  3. Preparation for Treatment: It's an excellent way to prepare a fence for staining or sealing by removing old finishes and ensuring the wood is clean for treatment.

Risks Associated with Pressure Washing Wooden Fences

  1. Damage to the Wood: High pressure can gouge, splinter, and strip away layers of wood, compromising the fence's integrity and aesthetics.
  2. Water Damage: If not done correctly, water can penetrate the wood, leading to swelling, warping, or even rot.
  3. Stripping of Protective Coatings: Pressure washing can remove existing stains, sealants, and paints that protect the wood from weathering and pests.

Best Practices for Pressure Washing a Wooden Fence

If you decide to proceed with pressure washing, adhering to these best practices will help you clean your fence effectively without causing damage:

1. Choose the Right Equipment

  • Low-pressure Washer: Opt for a pressure washer with adjustable pressure settings. A good starting point is 500-600 PSI, but you might need to adjust based on the wood's condition and age.
  • Appropriate Nozzle: Use a wider-angle nozzle (25 to 40 degrees) to diffuse the water pressure over a broader area, reducing the risk of damaging the wood.

2. Prepare the Fence

  • Inspect and Repair: Check your fence for any signs of damage or weak spots and repair them before pressure washing.
  • Protect Surroundings: Cover plants, grass, and nearby surfaces to protect them from the cleaning solutions and high-pressure water.

3. Use the Correct Technique

  • Test in an Inconspicuous Area: Before starting, test the pressure washer on a small, inconspicuous section of the fence to ensure it doesn't damage the wood.
  • Maintain a Safe Distance: Keep the nozzle at least 18 inches away from the fence surface. You can move closer if needed, but always start further away to minimise the risk of damage.
  • Even Strokes: Use long, even strokes, moving the nozzle steadily to avoid focusing the pressure on one spot for too long.
  • Follow the Grain: Clean in the direction of the wood grain to prevent splintering and to achieve a more uniform clean.

4. Consider a Cleaning Solution

For tough stains or mildew, you may need to use a cleaning solution. Choose a wood-friendly cleaner and apply it with a low-pressure setting or a garden sprayer before rinsing it off with the pressure washer.

5. Finishing Touches

After washing, give your fence time to dry completely. This could take 24-48 hours. Once dry, consider applying a stain or sealant to protect the wood from moisture and UV damage.


Pressure washing a wooden fence can be a safe and effective way to clean and refresh its appearance, provided you proceed with caution and follow best practices. By choosing the right equipment, using proper techniques, and applying a protective finish afterward, you can extend the life of your fence and enhance the curb appeal of your property.