Reader Question: How to Correct the Bad Pressure Wash Job

Written by on July 12, 2015 in Member Questions with 0 Comments


I have a ipe deck that was installed 9 years ago with streaks where someone pressure washed it poorly in the past and also variation in color where a tinted oil was applied at some point. Do you think the best course of action at this point is to pressure wash the whole deck with a cleaning agent (which do you recommend) or use a rotary floor sander and start over. I worry that pressure washing will leave it uneven with streak marks.

Thanks for your help.



Hi Robert,

This is a common issue. We see it a lot where Do it Yourselfers undertake washing a deck, with the best intentions but not the best information or equipment. The biggest mistake people make is that they don’t use the right cleaner (soap mix) for the situation. As a result, cleaning the deck is really difficult, so the person becomes quickly frustrated and uses straight water pressure to try to clean the deck. This is how striping occurs, and it ends up just looking like a bad pressure wash job. Usually, people give up about half way through this exercise, because they are literally going inches at a time, and the results are very mixed.

What to Do About It?

pressure wash

Here is how an improperly prepped and finished ipe deck ages. As bad as it looks, it is correctable with the right process, products and gear.

In your situation, it sounds like the deck was oiled without being corrected. That is, it was never properly prepped. Therefore, it is necessary to take the deck back to ground zero…raw wood. While I haven’t seen pictures of the deck in its current condition, I’d bet that a stiff cleaning with the proper soap mix, and then some level of scuff sanding would be in order prior to proper application of a penetrating oil.

Just going at it with a large sander as the sole prep method would not be the best solution. The boards are usually slightly cupped after 9 years, especially if they are 6″ widths. Also, washing is necessary to remove mildew formation and organic matter. So, cleaning then sanding would bring the best result.

Thanks for asking this question. This is exactly why we launched If you are interested in personalized project specification (machine pressures, soap mix, washing technique, final prep, oil selection/application) and coaching through resolution of your project, here is the direct route to receiving that support: IPE OWNER.


About the Author

About the Author: Scott Burt is a wood finishing expert. IPE decks are one of the areas of expertise in which he is frequently published in paint and remodeling magazines. He also engages in clinics and speaking appearances on the topic. is where IPE owners and installers can engage with Scott. .


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