What Size Pressure Washer Do I Need to Strip Paint from Deck?

What Size Pressure Washer to Strip Paint Off Deck

One of the more annoying tasks associating with painting is removing the old paint from the outside surfaces (such as your wooden patio or siding).

It can be quite time consuming to scrap or chip the old paint away by hand, before you repaint the surface.

However, you can save considerable time and effort by using a pressure washer (also called power washer).

Keep in mind that this should not be a cheap pressure washer used to clean your driveway, but one that is powerful enough to remove paint from surfaces such as your deck.

If you want, you can either rent or purchase a pressure washer to do the task.

But before you spend your money into this device, you should clearly know about the process and size of pressure washer you should use to strip the paint.

Here are a few tips to help you find the right type of equipment to use.


You’ll need to have nozzles that fits the pressure washer properly.

Plus, the nozzles will need to have the right pressures and spray angles designed to remove paint.

This means avoiding zero-angle nozzles as they can be unsafe in performing the task.

So, choose one with the proper angle that lets you remove the paint quickly and with safety.

The Right Size and Pressure

Remember, a DIY pressure washer, that is known to provide very less pressure, will not remove the paint as efficiently as it should.

The fact is removing paint requires greater pressure than simply removing dirt and debris.

But if the pressure is too high it can flake off the paint, and can also damage the wood underneath.

This means you should obtain an optimum unit size that provides around 3,000 pounds of pressure per square inch.

A 3,000 PSI pressure washer is the right size for the stubborn most tasks as it can exert highest force that is typically needed to break paint off the wood surface.

If you have flaking/peeling paint on the surface, that is already removed from the surface but needs cleaning, you can even use a pressure washer size that ranges from 1,200 PSI to 2,500 PSI.

Anything less than that does not have the power to remove paint.

How to Use a Pressure Washer for Paint Stripping?

The first step after you obtain a pressure washer and learn the basics of how it works is to clear the area of any furnishings or objects.

Whatever is on the deck should be removed even if you do not plan to hit that area for a while.

Once you have cleared away all the objects, the next step is to clean the deck.

While you may think the pressure washer can do that, keep in mind that any dirt or debris on the deck may strike your face or clothing. So, sweep the deck good and clean.

Scrape Off the Old Paint

Next, you’ll want to scrape away the larger areas of paint. You may need to use a DIY paint stripper first to soften the old paint.

By scraping and then using a paint stripper, it will be easier to remove the old paint from the deck.

When using a paint stripper, your pressure washer can be set from 800 to 1,200 psi to effectively remove the paint from a distance of around three feet.

Be sure to use cold water in the pressure washer for the best results.

Finish Up and Allow the Surface to Dry

Once you have removed all the paint using a pressure washer, you will want to reduce the pressure and sweep away any remaining loose debris.

Once you have done that, let the deck fully dry before you start applying new paint or stain to a pressure-treated wood deck.

Can You Use A Pressure Washer as A Paint Sprayer?

Unlike paint sprayers, pressure washer comes with higher pressure.

These are designed for blasting away even the toughest dirt and grime in less time and with the less effort.

Its generally used for preparing the surface for painting and not for spraying the paint.

You will typically need a different sprayer system for spraying/painting the deck surface as the pressure washer cannot be used for this purpose.

Some of the airless sprayers, however, can work similarly to pressure washers when used with paint instead of water. 

But they can be messy and should be used with proper care.

Pressure Vs Power Washing: What is The Difference?

Although the basic function of both these machines is the same (to use pressurized water for clean-up), they are actually different and work differently for different types of surfaces.

The real difference between power washing vs a pressure washing lies in the fact that a power washer makes use of a high-pressure hot water stream for blasting away the dirt and grime from the outdoor surfaces.

While a pressure washer is typically designed for home use (like for cleaning decks, driveways, sidewalks, and even vehicles), power washer is a better choice for cleaning “tougher to clean” surfaces that involves cleaning up of oil and grease.

Power washers, if used on soft surfaces, can damage them due to the high pressure and heating involved.

These are more generally found more useful for professional cleaning (and in industrial cleaning) and should be used by an experienced professional only.

Overall, a pressure washer is a great tool if you learn how to use it correctly.

In fact, when used properly a good pressure washer can save you a considerable amount of time in removing old paint from your deck.

Do not forget to wear the appropriate safety goggles and clothing, and focus on completing the task at hand by choosing the right deck stain applicators.

These will let you stain your deck in the best possible way after all the cleanup.

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