Pressure washing your fence can remove years of wear and tear in just a few hours. This tutorial will walk you through the process from start to finish, with detailed instructions for both wood and vinyl fences (plus optional instructions for staining after).
Tools and materials
Besides a pressure washer, you’ll need a few other tools and materials to clean your fence. You may need everything on the list below, or you may just need some things depending on the condition of your fence, whether it’s wood or vinyl and more.
Use 2,000-3,000 PSI for wood, or 1,500-2,000 PSI for vinyl.
Use a product that’s made for your conditions (mold, mildew, etc.).
Use safety glasses, work gloves, work shoes and hearing protection.
Get if you want to cover anything (nearby plants, lights, etc.).
Get if your cleaning solution isn’t made for pressure washers.
Get if you need to do any scrubbing (to remove old stain, etc.).
Get if you want to restore natural color to a faded fence.
Get if you want to stain your fence after pressure washing.
Get if you want to give your fence a smooth finish, or prep for staining.
If this is your first time using a pressure washer, read our guide on how to use a pressure washer to learn the basics. Then, follow the instructions below to pressure wash your fence (each step explains what to do for wood or vinyl, when necessary).
Step 1: Prepare fence
Remove any objects that are blocking the fence (furniture, pottery, etc.), then use your plastic sheeting to cover anything that can’t be moved (plants, grill, etc.). Make note of any openings and be cautious when cleaning so you don’t spray into your neighbor’s yard.
Step 2: Set up equipment
Pull out your pressure washer and connect your garden hose, high pressure hose and spray gun. Prepare your cleaning solution following the manufacturer’s instructions (some need to be diluted, others don’t), then fill your pressure washer (some models have an onboard detergent tank, others have a siphon that you put directly in your solution), or fill your garden sprayer if you’re using one. When you’re ready, turn on your water and start your pressure washer.
Step 3: Apply cleaner
Connect the 65° nozzle (usually black), or use your garden sprayer, and spray the cleaning solution onto the fence (spraying from bottom to top). Let it soak for a few minutes, then use your brush to scrub the surface. If you’re cleaning a perimeter fence, work one panel at a time so you can rinse the solution off before it starts to dry.
Step 4: Rinse cleaner
Switch to the 25° nozzle (usually green) for wood, or the 40° nozzle (usually white) for vinyl, and rinse the cleaning solution from the fence (this time, from top to bottom). Work one or two pickets at a time, rinsing in the direction of the grain, and make sure you don’t spray too close to cause any damage (generally, you want to keep the nozzle at least a foot away).
Step 5: Apply brightener
If you have a wood fence and bought a brightening solution, use it now following the same instructions as cleaning: prepare the solution, apply it and rinse it.
Step 6: Let dry
Take down your sheeting, put away your equipment and make sure you properly dispose of any leftover cleaning solution (if you used toxic chemicals). Wait at least 24 hours for the fence to dry before putting any decor back up, or before staining.
Step 7: Sand and stain
Use your sander (with 80-grit sandpaper) to prep the fence, then use a leaf blower to blow away the dust. Prepare your stain following the manufacturer’s instructions, then use your preferred applicator (roller, sprayer, etc.) to begin staining. Work three or four pickets at a time, going in the direction of the grain, and make sure you apply the recommended number of coats (two coats is standard, but again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
Frequently asked questions
The most common questions about pressure washing a fence are answered below. For other questions, you can reach out to us at any time. If you have a question about a specific product, you may need to contact the manufacturer.
How much does it cost to pressure wash a fence?
The average cost to pressure wash a fence is between $0.35-0.45 per square foot, which comes out to $315-405 for the average perimeter fence surrounding a home (around 150 linear feet). Keep in mind, this doesn’t include stain. Expect an additional $0.25-0.50 per square foot for staining.
How long should you wait to stain your fence after pressure washing?
You need to wait until the fence is dry before staining. With non-pressure-treated wood, expect to wait a few days. With pressure-treated wood, expect to wait a few weeks. If you’re not sure how to tell when it’s dry, drip some water on it; if the water beads up, it’s not dry yet.