We’re back with the rundown of our pressure washing adventure! Last weekend, we finally found time in our busy schedules to power wash the exterior of the house. We’ve been itching to do this since we bought the house but we had to wait until the weather was agreeable. The fact that the weather and our schedule lined up perfectly was sheer happiness. The brick really needed to be cleaned. Judging by the difference, we’re not sure if anyone had done any kind of cleaning in the past decade. Here are a few before-and-after shots…
Come to find out, our front sidewalk doesn’t have black flecks in it. We had no idea!
I did the side of the house before I really got a handle on how close I needed to be to the surface, so it’s not as clean as it probably could be. Still, I’d say the results are pretty good!
As for our equipment, we used a small 1300 PSI electric pressure washer. We tend to call it our “little guy”. Weighing in at just a few pounds, it definitely isn’t a professional grade, but it was adequate for the task at hand.
Pressure washers range from $90 all the way up to $4,000+. The price difference all comes down to the PSI. Basically, the higher the PSI, the further from the surface you can be, and the more work you can do in a shorter amount of time. That’s not to say lower PSI washers aren’t effective–you just have to be pretty close to the surface you’re working on. Because I was using our “little guy”, I had to use a stream about an inch and a half wide and about 3 inches from the brick to blast the 10+ year-old dirt. Just be careful about getting too close, even with lower-powered washers! With the nozzle set to its finest setting, you can permanently etch concrete. We found this out the hard way when we pressure washed the patio in our apartment!
As mentioned, our pressure washer runs on electricity. From a quick bit of research, it seems that 1500 PSI (plus or minus 200) is the most common rating for electric pressure washers. Anything above that puts you into the realm of gas-powered machinery. The great part about electric pressure washers is the price. You can get a decent 1300-1500 PSI pressure washer for around $100 at your local big-box hardware store. At that price, it’s a great investment.
Of course, pressure washing wouldn’t be called “washing” without soap, right? Well, that’s not always the case here. While most pressure washers have some way to add cleaners or solvents to the mix, we chose to forgo the cleaner and opt for a more natural option – basically, we just wanted to see if it worked. In some of the problem spots, like the front steps, I sprayed a little of the left over vinegar from our natural weed killer experiment, let it set for just a few minutes, and then used the pressure washer. As you can see from this photo, this method proved to work really well…
If you are new to pressure washing and want to clean your exterior, here are a few tips to remember along the way:
1. Test your washer settings in a non-conspicuous place. Pressure washers can be very powerful! Therefore, don’t start 3 inches from the surface with the finest nozzle setting. Start at the widest nozzle setting a reasonable distance away from the surface, then dial in as you see fit.
2. Take your time. Pressure washing can be a tedious and time-consuming task. I love systematic tasks where you can see real progress, so I actually enjoyed pressure washing the house. However, it was easy to get excited about the progress I was making and start leaving streaks where I hadn’t been close enough with the nozzle to get all the dirt.
3. Be smart about mixing water and electricity. The only place these two should meet are inside your electric pressure washer. If you’re washing walls with outlets on them, turn off the breaker first, then allow the outlets plenty of time to dry before you turn the breaker back on.
4. Cleaner or no cleaner? If you want to use a cleaner, be sure the cleaner you’re using is designed for the surface you’re using it on. Don’t, for example, use something designed for asphalt on brick. That could end up permanently damaging your brick. Also, carefully ready the warnings and instructions on the bottle. Some cleaners are designed specifically for non-porous surfaces (think vinyl, glass, etc.) while others are designed to work on porous surfaces (like brick and concrete). Also, it’s a good idea to test your cleaner at the same time as you are testing your nozzle settings and distances.
We hope this guide helps you if you are planning to do this project at your house. Remember, we aren’t experts. We’re just sharing what worked for us in hopes it will help someone else!
Have you noticed our new Archives page? You can now search for posts by room by using the handy dandy floor plan map. More changes/additions coming soon!