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If you were to look down at your driveway right now, what would you see? Unless you’ve just had it replaced, you may find mildew, dirt and grease stains from years of use. Not only is this frustrating to see every time you arrive home, but it can also damage the driveway itself.
If you’ve never pressure washed your driveway before, now might be the time. You can easily make your driveway look like new again and increase your curb appeal. With a few hours and a DIY spirit, you can properly pressure wash your driveway to give it a clean, fresh look.
What is Pressure Washing?
Pressure washing, sometimes called power washing, is an easy way to remove dirt, debris, stains, discoloration and more from your home’s outdoor surfaces. Home-use pressure washers typically hook up to your garden hose and dramatically pressurizes the water as it leaves the machine. These can be powered by either gas or electricity. Pressure can be adjusted on the machine, as tougher dirt and grime call for higher pressure to easily remove. If you’re not ready to make the investment in a new machine, some hardware stores offer rental equipment.
It’s important to understand the difference between a gas and electric washer. Electric washers will generate between 1300 to 1900 psi compared to a gas-powered unit, which will generate between 2000 to 3100 psi. While there are washers that can generate even higher pressures, those are used for commercial applications. If using the gas unit, be cautious on softer materials such as decking and fences as the pressure is enough to splinter the wood.
It’s important to practice proper safety because the water comes out of the nozzle at such high pressure. Never direct a spray from the pressure washer at yourself or others. The spray can cause major wounds to the body. Always wear closed-toe shoes, preferably boots while operating. Wearing goggles will protect your eyes from any water or debris that may kickback from use.
To properly pressure wash your driveway, you’ll need the following:
- Pressure washer
- Cleaner or degreaser
- Driveway sealant
- Brush broom
- Garden hose
- Pressure washer detergent
- Proper safety attire
- Paint roller and roller cover
- Paint pan
- Masking tape
Prepare the Driveway
Before turning on the water, you’ll need to clean any loose debris from your driveway such as leaves, sticks and stones. If there is any outdoor furniture or children’s toys out, put them aside while you work on this project. If the driveway is adjacent to any home walls or doors, cover them with tarp and masking tape to avoid damage. Once the area is clear, sweep the driveway for any dirt or stones you may have missed. Keep an eye out for any area of your driveway that is damaged and may need repair. For driveway repair, call a pro.
The last step to prepare your driveway is applying degreaser. Spray your driveway with the solution and scrub with a brush broom.
Using the Pressure Washer
Before turning on the machine, be sure to read the manual and to understand the manufacturer’s instructions, especially if it’s a rental. How you connect your garden hose to the pressure washer depends on the model you use, but just look for your water supply. You should have two nozzles, the low-pressure nozzle you’ll use to apply the detergent and the high-pressure nozzle to rinse. Place your detergent into the specified detergent tube in the pressure washer. For reservoir machines, you can pour solution into the washer without diluting the solution. Otherwise, pay attention to the product instructions.
Using the low-pressure nozzle, begin spraying your driveway with the pressure washer, starting from the house working your way down to the other end, overlapping each stroke. Never point the nozzle and squeeze the trigger at the point you’d like to start. This can leave hash marks. Instead, squeeze the trigger while the nozzle is pointed away and sweep into your stroke. It’s best to move right to left and continue in that pattern for the entire length. Be careful not to spray any flowers or plants nearby, as this will cause serious damage.
Apply the detergent spray evenly across the surface, covering the entire area. You should see the detergent suds appear as you soak the area. Once you have covered the driveway with the detergent, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, watching to make sure it does not dry.
When time is up, switch to the high-pressure nozzle and rinse the concrete. Move in the same right to left pattern as you did when you applied the detergent.
Seal for Protection
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To avoid future stains and damage, you’ll want to seal your driveway. After the concrete has sealed completely, pour your sealant into the paint pan and begin applying on the surface with your paint roller. Use the same motion as before, working your way down the driveway. When this process is completed, you must wait 24 hours before parking any vehicles on the surface.
Pressure Washing to Prevent Damage
It’s recommended that concrete driveways should be pressure washed at least once a year. Washing and sealing prevents wear and weather damage. This is good to keep in mind as the average cost of a driveway repair is $1,658. Additionally, the state of your driveway impacts your curb appeal. If you’re looking to sell your house, it’s a good idea to clean your driveway, as it adds to the potential buyer’s first impression.
Driveways are an important part of the home, but take maintenance to remain in good condition. By following these steps, you’re sure to have a clean driveway for everyone to enjoy.
Does your driveway need more than just a good scrub? See how much it costs to replace and pave a driveway.