fuzzy deck power washing

Why is My Deck Fuzzy After Power Washing? (How to Fix it)

In Exterior Wood, Tips by Jamie

Fuzzies (sometimes called ‘furries’ or ‘furring’) are a common problem after power washing wooden decking, especially when it’s old. The surface of the decking has lots of small wooden fibers that give a fuzzy or hairy appearance.

This happens to old decking because the surface of the wood is weakened and the fibers are dead. The pressure from your power washer loosens them and pushes them upwards.

Fuzzies ruin the appearance of your decking and make it harder to get a good finish when staining. Read on to learn more about what causes them and how you can get rid of them.

What Are the Causes for Deck Fuzzies After Power Washing?

There are several reasons for deck fuzzies after power washing. It’s most common on old decking because the surface of the wood is becoming damaged from years of rain and UV rays. This makes it easier for the small wooden fibers to come loose and create the fuzzy effect. If your deck is oxidized, meaning that it has changed color due to weather exposure, you are more likely to get deck fuzzies too.

As the wood ages, the fibers die and the decking takes on a gray appearance. When this happens, the surface is weakened and the fibers peel away far easier.

Is it Normal for a Deck to Get Fuzzies After Power Washing?

Yes, this is quite a common problem. Although it can affect newer decking, it’s usually an issue with older wood that has started to turn gray. It’s something that you just have to deal with, luckily, there are ways to manage it.

Can You Prevent Your Deck from Getting Fuzzy after Power Washing?

The easiest way to prevent deck fuzzies is to reduce the pressure on your pressure washer. This will stop the fibers from being pushed up and the deck will not look as fuzzy. You could even use a hose instead if you are worried about damaging the wood. But keep in mind that high pressure helps to strip mold and mildew and keep the deck clean. So, if you reduce the pressure, you may have difficulty removing black stains from the wood.

Can You Damage a Wood Deck When Using a Pressure Washer?

Yes, using a pressure washer on wood can damage it if you are not careful. It’s important to keep the pressure at the right level (I recommend no higher than 1200 psi). Make sure that you keep a close eye on the settings and avoid a particularly concentrated spray pattern. By spreading the spray a little, you can reduce the impact on the wood. Test the pressure washer on an inconspicuous area of the decking first to double-check that it won’t cause damage.

How Do You Remove Pressure Washer Wood Fuzzies from a Deck?

If you have pressure washed your deck and it looks fuzzy, don’t worry, you can remove them by sanding it down. Before you do anything, wait until the wood is completely dry.

An electric sander is the easiest way to strip the top layer of the decking and remove fuzzies. I like to use a random orbital sander as opposed to a standard one. Random orbital sanders move forward and backward as well as in circles. This leaves fewer circular patterns in the wood when sanding. Fit the sander with 150 grit pads to quickly remove the furries and leave a smooth finish behind.

Once you have finished sanding, bear in mind that the deck is completely unprotected from the elements. So, you need to use some wood stain or a clear sealer to protect against the rain and UV rays, which can cause damage over time.

Do You Need to Remove the Fuzzies, or Can You Just Leave it?

Technically, you can leave the fuzzies and they won’t cause further damage to the wood, but why would you want to? They make the deck look old and ruin the nice finish. It looks so much better if you sand it, and it will stay in good condition for much longer, so it’s worth doing.

If you plan to stain or seal the wood, you should definitely remove the fuzzies first. It is important that the stain has a good surface to bond to for maximum protection. When the surface is fuzzy, a lot of the product sticks to those loose fibers instead of soaking deeper into the wood. Sanding the fuzzies off beforehand ensures that you get a good bond, and you’re applying stain to a nicely finished deck, so it will look a lot better too.

Staining and Sealing Your Deck After Power Washing

sanded deck ready for stain

Power washing is a good first step when trying to bring your deck back to life by refinishing it. However, all of your hard work is wasted if you don’t remove the fuzzies beforehand. If you want to get the best finish when staining and sealing your deck, follow these steps:

1. Clear Dirt and Debris

Use a broom to brush away and loose dirt on the deck.

2. Power Wash Your Decking

Power wash the wood, making sure not to exceed 1200 psi, and do a small test patch first.

3. Sand Fuzzies

If the deck looks fuzzy, use a random orbital sander (150 grit) to remove them and create a nice clean surface to apply stain and sealant. Make sure that the wood is completely dry before you do this.

4. Clean the Deck

Once you have sanded the fuzzies off, you need to clean the deck. This is to remove any residual sawdust from the sanding. You can use a hose to rinse it off. But if you have a problem with mold or mildew and the pressure washer did not remove it all, consider using a deck cleaner to get rid of it before you continue. Again, let the wood dry fully before moving on to the final step.

5. Apply Stain and Sealant

Now you are ready to apply your stain and sealant to protect the wood. Always read the instructions fully before starting because every product is slightly different. If you apply it incorrectly, you won’t get the finish and protection that you are hoping for.

 

Final Thoughts

Deck fuzzies are a common problem, especially on older decks. They don’t actually cause any damage, so they can be left, but I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to remove them. It’s simple to get rid of them by sanding them off after you power wash your deck. This will make it look much nicer and provide a better surface for stains and sealants to bond to.