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I have an ironwood (ipe) deck which has weathered to grey where it is exposed to the elements. Previously I have refinished it by sanding (very laborious) before reapplying stain/finish. I am considering trying to use a pressure washer to replace the sanding step this time. I do not have much experience with pressure washers so a few questions occur to me before I begin:

  • What "power" pressure washer should I rent? Is there an upper bound beyond which I would be likely to harm the ironwood?
  • What nozzle would be most appropriate?
  • What (if any) additives to the water would be advisable? (the deck is adjacent to a fish pond so ideally nothing harmful to them)

Picture of the deck in question: weathered ironwood/ipe deck

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  • You basically want to remove the top layer of the wood.
    – Traveler
    Jun 18, 2023 at 21:20
  • @Ruskes the goal as I understand it is essentially to remove the old finish and prepare the surface to accept new finish. I'm not expecting it to be as smooth as if I meticulously sanded it. Jun 18, 2023 at 21:24
  • rough surface is good for paint and stain, it gives it something to stick to
    – Traveler
    Jun 18, 2023 at 21:36
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    using pressure washer will work, but. you will have to wait for days for wood to dry up
    – Traveler
    Jun 18, 2023 at 22:23
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    Most of them have adjustable pressure and nozzles. Just start with low pressure and wide nozzle. And adjust to suit. Jun 18, 2023 at 23:10

3 Answers 3

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Using high pressure washer will remove the top layer.

However it is natural for Ironwood to get gray over time.

The problem with high pressure water gun is the wood will get soaked wet deeply, and it will take long time to dry before you can apply anything to it.

Renting a floor sander might be better option here.

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  • try a small section of scrap if you have it.
    – gbronner
    Jun 28, 2023 at 15:34
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Check the instructions from the product you intend to use. The process can vary based on the type of old stain, type of new stain, etc.. Sometimes a stain is happy to go over anything, only itself or similar products, or requires a clean freshly sanded surface.

As an example for Cetol Dek the recommendation is to wet the wood; clean the wood with bleach, TSP, and a stiff brush; power wash; dry; and sand. Previous coatings must be removed.

https://wood-deck-stain-finishes.com/pdf/sikkens/Sikkens-Cetol-DEK-App-Guide.pdf

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  • The "tips" section of the linked document has some interesting insights. Good info.
    – gnicko
    Jun 27, 2023 at 23:33
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I would not recommend a power washer. It will force water deep into the wood fibers and it could take some time before the wood is dry enough through and through for proper finishing. The water can also raise fibers of the wood and require some sanding before staining anyway. So it's counter productive.

You sanded before. While this is labor intensive, the results evident in your picture are very handsome.

Sometimes getting a good result means putting in the work. Shortcuts manifest themselves in a poor finished product.

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