Updated: Jan 10
Pressure washing - it can make for dirty, backbreaking work; however, it is very satisfying. If you've ever tried to pressure wash your own driveway, you know this. The dirt is immediately blasted away and reveals the new looking surface underneath. If you are like me, you like to try home projects on your own before you hire someone and, like me, you get in over your head and wish you had someone to ask questions to or some helpful hints before you started. Hopefully you found this before you got started.
1. Cleaning Small Balconies or Patios
Most professionals have minimums fees for coming to your home to perform a service. This sucks when all you have is a small 10x5 balcony on your apartment complex and get quoted $350.00 for what seems like a 2 minute job. If the balcony or patio in question has turned green from algae and mildew, the BEST most EFFECTIVE and least time consuming way to clean it is this: Buy a bottle of bleach from your favorite hardware store. Put on gloves and goggles. Pour the bleach into an empty spray bottle (DO NOT USE A WINDEX OR OTHER CLEANING CHEMICAL BOTTLE - THIS CREATES CHLOROFORM, YOU WILL GET SICK AND/OR DIE), if you have a larger area that needs cleaning, use a pump sprayer specifically labelled 'bleach' on it - they are available at your local hardware store for $20. After you take the proper PPE precautions - goggles, gloves and clothing you don't mind getting dirty or ruined - spray the dirty areas and completely cover them. Be careful not to spread bleach onto neighbors balconies or let it drip down below. Let the bleach dwell for 20 - 30 minutes and the green algae should be gone. If it isn't, re apply bleach and use a scrub brush to agitate the staining. Congratulations, you just cleaned your small balcony for $20- $40 in less than an hour.
Video on my Youtube page with a nice tutorial using bleach: https://youtu.be/WOynpzz2Zso
2. Surface Cleaners
Surface cleaners are the lawn mowers of concrete cleaning. DIY people that use surface cleaners know that they will cut your work time down to a fraction of what it was when you used a wand. Surface cleaners cover a wider area than a wand and clean effectively. Be careful though, you can't go too big, or your surface cleaner will not get enough water to spin the bar. The rule of thumb for purchasing surface cleaners is this: The diameter of the surface cleaner should be no more than 4x the Gallons Per Minute (GPM) your pump puts out. For example: A common pressure washing machine is the DeWalt pressure washer with a Triplex pump. They commonly come in 4,400 PSI with 4 GPM. Your surface cleaner with this particular pump should not exceed 16 inches in diameter or you will be going over the same area for hours. A second example because I know people will still have questions about the math: a 3,000 PSI machine with 3.2 GPM can handle a surface cleaner with the diameter of 12 inches. I would not go any higher. Surface cleaners save a lot of time and allow you to work from an upright position instead of hunched over. If you are seriuos about pressure washing your own concrete every year, make this investment, it will make a huge difference and will be worth every penny.
Surface Cleaner in Action: https://youtu.be/j0VIyP1lgLE
3. Pressure Washing your Deck
A lot of pros have moved from using hard pressure on wooden surfaces; however, this is how it was done for years and it can still be done if you are careful. Just make sure you do the following; Always use a sweeping motion and go with the grain. NEVER pull the trigger or let go of the trigger while pointing the wand at the wood. You must start and stop the flow of water while pointing the wand away from the wood and slowly feathering it downward toward the wood and continuing the sweeping motion upward in a smooth manner. If you start or stop the flow while pointing it at the wood, you WILL cause damage and blast markings in the wood. Be smooth while cleaning the deck, maybe practice on your concrete first. After you clean the deck, you can improve its longevity simply by waiting for it to dry and using a roller to put down oil on the deck. One of my clients oils her deck every year after I pressure wash it and it looks like it is 2 years old when it is really 20. It is in great shape simply due to a yearly cleaning and oil application.
These are 3 DIY tips you may have heard already, but in the case that you haven't, try them before you dive in head first. Feel free to give me a call, text or email with any other pressure washing related questions.