Pressure washing provides many benefits when added to your spring cleaning checklist. While you may focus mainly on the aesthetics of your landscaping as you clear out the old and plant the new, your hardscapes (non-living elements, such as walkways, decks, and fences) need to be cleaned of dirt, grime, algae, mildew, and mold to get your property in optimum shape for outdoor relaxation and entertaining. In addition, a good pressure washing on a regular basis can extend the life of such surfaces while creating a more hygienic environment.
However, not every surface can be pressure washed in the same way. As easy as some videos make it look, many factors are involved in successfully cleaning without damaging the surface — or injuring yourself or someone else. Or breaking a window or causing some other type of property damage by a high-pressure spray pointed in the wrong direction. Here’s what you need to know about pressure washing the most common types of surfaces on your property, so you can decide whether to tackle these projects yourself — or hire our experienced pros at Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing!
Advantages of Pressure Washing Your Driveway, Walkways, and Patio Slab
Often, the most utilitarian outdoor surfaces are the most overlooked. How often do you really think about your driveway? As it leads up to your garage or carport (another surface to pressure wash), the driveway is a prominent feature that’s a component of your home’s overall curb appeal. A dirty, stained driveway creates a poor impression of your property, making it appear neglected. Walkways leading to the front door — and the front porch slab itself — should be clean to create a welcoming effect that also reflects your pride of ownership. And whether your home has a modest back patio slab or a grander patio area, you, your family and your friends will enjoy the backyard much more if it’s sparkling!
Of course, if you’re planning to sell your house, it’s essential for every element to be in top condition. Your home is more likely to sell faster, at a higher price. Homebuyers assume a home that appears to be well-cared for is also in excellent repair and has no unpleasant surprises awaiting the next owner.
For those interested in doing it yourself, start by learning about the equipment itself. There are two types of pressure washers: electric and gas. The first type is intended for consumer use and is ideal for smaller projects requiring low pressure – such as patios and fences. Because they are electric, the job can’t be far from an electrical outlet. Gas models are suited for commercial use. They are more powerful and can be used wherever needed, as they aren’t tethered to a power cord.
When choosing a pressure washer, PSI (pounds per square inch) and GPM (gallons per minute) are both equally important. The PSI refers to the amount of pressure produced and GPM refers to the amount of water flow. If you are considering purchasing a pressure washer, The Home Depot has an informative article covering both types in greater detail. You also may want to reference our blog post – “What is the Right Way to Do Residential Pressure Washing?” – for safety precautions and equipment you’ll need.
Whether you ultimately decide to DIY or call us, your driveway should be on the to-do list. According to First Class Clean, “Pressure washing your driveway will prevent harmful growths such as mold, mildew, algae, and moss. These growths can gradually eat away at your driveway surface, resulting in safety hazards and costly repairs down the road.”
Other benefits of pressure washing your driveway include:
- Limiting weed growth.
- Eliminating stains.
- Saving the time and exertion of manually scrubbing.
Driveways and sidewalks aren’t the only areas around your home that need cleaning. Porch decks and patio slabs need attention, as well. However, the processes vary based on the material. For example, most porch decks are built of wood, while patio slabs are commonly constructed of concrete. Choosing the right power washer and operating it at the correct pressure setting are the first keys to successfully power washing each type of surface.
Wood decks can present a challenge. As a natural material, wood can splinter if sprayed at too high a pressure. HGTV states that for cleaning a wooden deck, you’ll be best served by using the lowest pressure setting that’s still effective. Since there are different types of wood, you’ll still need to adjust the pressure for soft or hardwood. HGTV offers the following advice:
- Softwoods such as cedar or pine require about 500 to 800 psi.
- Harder woods require up to 1200 to 1500 psi.
- Choose a fan tip or rotating tip.
- Remember to always start the water pressure in an area that can be easy and cheap to repair or replace, pointing away from people and glass windows.
- Start at least two feet from the wood deck, then feather the pressure into a range from about a foot to 18 inches from the deck.
- Never get closer than 12 inches from the deck unless you’re using low pressure.
If you’re doing it yourself, make the process environmentally friendly by choosing a non-toxic cleaner that is safe for people, pets, and plants.
Don’t Forget to Pressure Wash Your Fence!
As mentioned earlier, different materials require different water pressure settings. The most popular fencing materials for Central Florida homes are wood and vinyl. While vinyl fences are both attractive and weather-resistant, they are more likely to show dirt, stains, and other grime due to their nonporous surface — and therefore may require more frequent cleaning.
For wood fences, you can still use the suggested psi settings listed above — depending on your fence’s material — but the correct nozzle to ensure a thorough cleaning without damage is a 25-degree tip — the green nozzle tip.
Common sense prep and safety advice for all pressure-washing jobs:
Start by clearing loose debris from the area — including objects that you could trip and fall over. Make sure to close all doors and windows to prevent damaging the interior of your home, and cover plants, deck furniture, electrical outlets, and light fixtures with a tarp. Keep children and pets away from the area.
PresureWashr provides these additional helpful tips for pressure washing wood fences:
- Use a bottom-up approach when applying detergent to your fence to prevent streaking.
- Work in sections. If you apply detergent to your entire fence before rinsing it off, the detergent will harden on the fence.
- Let the detergent sit on the fence for 5-10 minutes.
- Cover one to two boards at a time repeating the wash, sit, rinse method.
- Rinse from top to bottom to prevent streaks.
- Wait 48 hours for the wood to dry before applying paint, stain, or sealer.
AG Vinyl Fencing suggests using the following cleaning methods for vinyl fences:
- Vinyl fences are exposed to the elements 24/7, so you should wash and wipe them at least once per week, especially during dust and rain-heavy seasons when pollen and other pathogens are more prominent.
- Vinegar is an overlooked but highly effective eco-friendly option for cleaning vinyl fences and other surfaces. White vinegar kills dozens of pathogens, including salmonella and flu viruses.
- Start by testing the strength of your vinyl fencing structure by spraying with a moderate-to-high-pressure hose.
- Once water pressure is assessed and adjusted, infuse your spraying tool with a mild detergent or non-toxic cleaning solvent.
- Depending on the level of dirt and grime that your vinyl fencing has, allow the structure to sit untouched for at least 3 to 5 minutes without allowing the solution to dry.
- Break out your power washer to remove lingering grime and detergent bubbles, then use a moderate water flow to rinse and revitalize the vibrancy of your vinyl fence.
A Word About DIY Pool Deck Pressure Washing
You may be laboring under the impression that a pool deck would be the easiest place to pressure wash, but such is not the case. According to ProClean, “Concrete has many pits and pores along its surface, and is prone to chips, cracks, splits, and other such damage. Patio pavers and outdoor stone tiles are also typically covered in nooks and crannies and may be softer than you assume.”
Not only do pool decks collect the usual mold, mildew, and algae that all outdoor surfaces harbor, but they also collect pool chemicals — which are more difficult to get rid of, as they seep into the pits. Since store-bought cleaners are not strong enough to dissolve thick, caked-on residue, determining the proper detergent and pressure for the changing surfaces requires a professional eye to deliver the best results.
A professional pressure washing service provides the following advantages over taking the DIY approach:
- Pros use specialty surfactants that soak into all the pits and pores to dissolve the most hardened, thickest dirt and grime.
- Pros can recognize stains on concrete and patio pavers — including motor oil, rust, and paint droplets — and apply specialty detergents, then scrub the area as needed.
- Pros can recommend and apply soft wash systems for cleaning a concrete pool deck. Soft wash systems start with a surfactant that dissolves thick dirt and sand. A low-pressure rinse removes all that residue without damaging concrete paint or sealant or cracking and chipping pavers and stone tiles.
- Pros ensure that all dirt and grime are brushed and cleaned away from your home and lawn properly to avoid damage and an unsightly mess.
Pressure washing your home requires knowledge, experience, and the proper tools to ensure a job well done. If this sounds like a project that might be out of your depth, contact Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing to handle it for you! We provide lawn maintenance, landscaping, pressure washing, and more to fit your needs! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.