Wood Deck Pricing

Do any of you charge a different price for washing a wood deck vs. washing the house?

I am talking a basic deck wash, no sealing or restoration services.

Absolutely.

What do you charge by the square foot?

I don’t really go that way, I look at it and figure in my head how long it may take, what I’ll have to use on it, how many spindles, stairs, elevation, etc.

I did a 10x10 deck last summer that wasn’t raised with no railing for $80. The lady was elderly and I was already washing her house. Between the deck and house it was in and out in less than 90 minutes. One mile from home and $240.

I did another 70 Sq ft deck that was 6 ft off the ground, attached to a condo with a zillion spindles on it for $275. It wasn’t a bad one either but I had to break out a ladder as I won’t go through the house. I also had to be mindful of the adjoining units.

You just can’t set a base price. You will bid some too low but you’ll quickly learn your lesson when you do.

If you have a deck that spans the entire length of the back of the house, you’re going to have to clean up regardless so package the house and deck together. Point things out to the customer… The mold that they think is dirt, filthy screens, wasp nests, etc.

That is a good point, if they do the deck they might as well do the house as well. Packaging them together as a deal works for both parties.

About how low of pressure do you use on a deck? I had an electric 1800 psi washer that does my back deck fine, but it stripped paint off my door frame. We are thinking about going down to 500 psi and softwashing everything.

I go by square ft.

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But also see what it’s going to take to do the job. Chems $$

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What rate do you square footage guys charge? I am thinking square foot out the flat surface then add extra per the rails etc, degree of difficulty etc.

It really depends on your area. And demographic

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$1.50 to $3.00 a sq ft. .95 cents per linear ft of handrails & spindles. Then add in cost of stain. I always include sanding of handrails & hammering nails back down.

John Devine. allwashedupny.com

Yes. Different pricing than regular pressure washing.

Regarding pricing it always ends up being debated and I usually stay away from these type of threads. In this case I will remain general while discussing how I price in my company and hopefully it helps somebody. First, it really doesn’t matter whether you charge by the square foot or by estimated man hours it should still come out relatively the same. For simplicity sake lets assume we charge $1/sq.ft, then on a 1000 square ft. deck we should charge $1000. If we charge at $100/man hour then the same deck should take about 10 hours to wash and stain. In regards to verticals to make things simple most balusters are 1x4 so we we did all sides that is 4 inches of wood and most balusters are 4" centers so to make it real simple if we have 60 linear feet of verticals at 4 feet high then just multiply to get 240 square feet and then add to the horizontal figure. No reason to make this more difficult. If you are charging by the linear ft then just come up with the price that is the same as the square footage price. The idea with the estimate is to figure what is “easier and user friendly” for you to work with. There are have been days when I have done about 18-20 estimates and I need to keep it simple.
It is best to come up with a base price to figure out these estimates and then build pricing from there. Lets say you charge $1.50/sq.ft. to just clean and seal you should then come up with pricing for cleaning and staining (Semi’s), cleaning and staining (Solids, including priming), Stripping and sealing, stripping and staining (same as above). Then there are variables that frustrate many folks doing this type of work and the difference in making money on these jobs. Multiple strippings, sanding, height and ladder work, repairs, popped nails and screws, and other pitfalls. What I do is many of these cases is add my hourly figure to my base price. For example, if I charge $1.50/sq.ft for a 1000 sq.ft. deck and I am cleaning and sealing my base charge would be $1500 but then I look and notice that the top of the rails are about 8ft. off the ground. No matter what anyone tells you if you use a ladder it takes more time than working from the ground. So let’s say it will take me an extra 1.5 hours for this I would add $150 to the estimate based on a charge of $100/man hour for a total estimate of $1650. I don’t know about anyone else but I am not giving away $150 on every job or ANY job. This can be the difference in staying in business or wondering why you are not making it when offering these services. Get paid for everything you do and account for ALL your time on a job. We offer to sand all hand rails or where a butt will sit on all jobs and usually include re-sinking popped nails or crews on jobs as well. Anything else we charge for accordingly.
Regarding “just cleaning or stripping” a job or “just applying a finish” on a job I have a different philosophy. In my business model I am putting my company name on the job so I want to control everything about it. This can greatly affect my business reputation. If you clean or strip a residential deck and they stain it and don’t do it right (which almost always happens) do you think they will blame themselves? They may not understand, they may not call you , and maybe they do. If they call you then you have another issue that is costing you money to go there and explain everything to them. If they don’t call you it could be even worse because they may just tell the neighbors that the company they had prep the deck didn’t do it right and you don’t get any referrals while killing your business reputation. The same goes for sealing or staining after they “washed” it as you have no idea what they did or didn’t do and you will get the blame for the end result, remember the outcome of the project GREATLY depends on the preparation. I understand people need to make money and another company’s business model may just offer cleanings, in these cases just come up with a price using the same principles as above. A lot of people I know charge about one third of their total price to clean only. So if you charged $1.50/sq.ft. then $.50/sq.ft. on a 1000 sq.ft. deck will get you $500 and should not take more than 5 hours to do based on $100/man hr. I hope this is helpful to someone!

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Thank you Everett. I basically am willing to clean a deck for them, but not sure I am ready to get into the refinishing part. I will need to do some more research to see if that is something I feel I am ready to take on as a service.

Great information Everett with some points I have never considered. I don’t seal or stain unless I do the prep work. On the other hand though, I have cleaned and neutralized on a few occasions while the customer stained themselves. Maybe that is okay for a strictly exterior cleaning business, but not good for a wood restoration business. Thanks for bringing up these potential problems.