Cleaning Your Exteriors With a Pressure Washer

By HomeAdvisor

Updated November 30, 2016

Powerwashing exteriors

After a long winter, it may be time to do an exterior inspection of your home. Your deck may be fading and wearing out. Your siding may have mildew growing on it. And your concrete will probably have suffered some new stains in the process. So as you knock the dust out of the rugs and clear the clutter from the garage, it’s probably a good idea to add some outdoor cleaning chores to your springtime honey-do list.

Outdoor Cleaning: The Stain Solution

Driveways, sidewalks, and patios get stained. Whether from oil, paint, or mud, concrete surfaces seem to attract spills simply because we do so much dirty work in these areas. Many people assume that since concrete is hard that it’s impenetrable, so they act a little reckless around it. However, though it can take a beating physically, it’s unable to defend itself chemically. If you have mud stains or other blemishes tarnishing your cement, there are few different solutions. One is to rub some dishwasher detergent into the stain, scrub it with a clean broom, and rinse it with a hose. If this doesn’t work, make a solution of one-third household bleach to two-thirds part water and then rinse again. If the stain is a mineral like rust, try one-fourth vinegar to three-quarters water. If none of these mixtures does the trick you have one last option that is guaranteed to do the job: pressure washing.

Pressure Washing: A Quick Facelift

When it comes to outdoor cleaning, nothing beats a good scrub, wash, and rinse. However, if your garden hose isn’t cutting it, you may want to invest in something a little stronger. To quickly restore your home’s concrete, wood, aluminum, or vinyl surfaces, power washing may be your best alternative. These high-powered sprayers are operated by a gas, diesel, hydraulic, or electrical motor which can remove stains, grit, dirt, mildew, moss, and even peeling paint. Therefore they’re great tools for preparing a surface for re-painting or staining. But sometimes after you’ve given a deck or patio a good facelift, you may find them so sparkling clean you’ll no longer need to resurface or re-paint.

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Power Washing Guidelines

Many people hire an outdoor cleaning service that has proper training and truck-mounted equipment to get the job done efficiently and effectively for around $300. However, you could also do this job yourself by renting the machine from an equipment rental store. They tend to rent by the day but for the work they accomplish the fee is fairly priced ($60-80). If you do decide to do this project yourself, here are a few tips to get your started in your selection.

  • PSI: These machines are rated by strength, which is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). Unlike a garden hose, which is rated at 60 PSI, these high-powered contraptions should rate somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 PSI for a normal house. Any more and it could damage the exterior, any less and it won’t be worth your time.
  • Tips: Wide-spreading fan tips are best for close areas, such as concrete patios, driveways, or wooden decking. But for the upper-reaches of your home’s siding, you should use a spear tip which concentrates the spray in a direct line for far-away cleaning.
  • Cleaning Agent: For stains, it may be a good idea to put some detergent into the water as you spray, and then give it a good second rinse to ensure removal.
  • Protection: These aren’t toys. Their force is impressive but also dangerous so be prepared to protect yourself. Wear goggles to save your eyes from debris. Steer clear of windows to avoid broken glass. Cover your electrical outlets to avoid shortages. Stay away from living plants and foliage. Never spray into rock, pebbles, or gravel. And never ever point it at someone even as a joke: it can cause some serious damage.

Exterior Resurfacing

A more thorough but truly effective form of outdoor cleaning is resurfacing. Whether it’s slapping on a new coat of paint to your siding, slathering on a fresh layer of sealant to your deck, or adding an epoxy overlay to your concrete, nothing can beat resurfacing when it comes to restoration and preservation. However, before resurfacing, it’s still important that you prepare the area, so it’s still a good idea to invest in some pressure washing beforehand to make sure the surfaces are clean. Plus, since resurfacing is a big job, you may want to hire a professional contractor to guarantee quality work.

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