pressure washing tips and guide

A once new and good-looking home can become very old and unattractive over the years if it’s not maintained properly. Built-up dirt, grime, and mold can turn the once-beautiful home into the ugliest and dirtiest in the neighborhood.

Pressure washing can be used to reverse this. You can use it to clean your roofs, gutters, patios, decks, siding, driveways, sidewalks, and fence, removing all the dirt defacing your beautiful home and making it new again.

Every exterior feature can be pressure washed to remove any embedded dirt and grime, no matter how long they’ve been neglected.

You can also use pressure washing to prepare the exterior walls of your house for repainting. Molds, rust, and old paint can be stripped and washed off to make the house ready for repainting.

power washing dirt and grime

Before hurrying off to begin, however, you need to know a few things first about pressure washing.

That’s because power washing machines are no joke. The average pressure in your garden hose ranges between 30 and 80 PSI. Pressure washers increase that up to 3000 PSI and above. The force of the water jet coming from the machine can bore holes in concrete and strip off the paint on your car. It can slice plants in half, cut through wood, damage your walls, and so on.

That’s why it’s important that you know your way around it before embarking on any pressure-washing project.

This guide has been written to help you understand the process and provide you with tips and tricks to help you get the job done successfully and revamp your outdoor space.

With that said, here’s what you should do.

Choose the right pressure washing machine

choose the right pressure washer machine

Pressure washing your home or outdoor space properly starts with picking the right equipment. The type of pressure washer you choose will determine how effective the job is as a whole.

You’ll need to consider specific terms like PSI and GPM, which refers to Pounds per Square Inch and Gallons per Minute, respectively. PSI refers to the pressure or force at which the water comes out of the nozzle or how much the machine multiplies the force of water coming from your garden hose.

GPM, or Gallons Per Minute, refers to the flow rate of the water. It refers to the volume of water in gallons that flow out of the spray nozzle per minute.

These two quantities multiplied together define the cleaning capacity of the pressure washing machine you choose. So, make sure you check the PSI and GPM of the machine you choose. That will determine how efficient it is.

You also have to decide whether you’ll go for an electric-powered model or a gas-powered unit. The gas-powered options are usually more powerful and will make quick work of any project that an electric unit.

Nevertheless, they’re pretty noisy and do require more maintenance to keep them in good working condition.

Use the right nozzle

use the right nozzle

Pressure washer wands make use of nozzles to control the flow of water from the wand. The nozzle controls the force and direction of water flow or spray pattern.

The nozzle can either concentrate the pressure to a particular spot where it can puncture and damage the surface, or it can be spread over an area, so it cleans away only the dirt and grime without damaging the original surface.

You also have to consider the surface you’re working on so you can choose the right nozzle that will not damage it. The stronger the surface is, the greater the water pressure it can withstand before the water begins to erode the surface away.

Garden equipment like lawn mower blades and augers can withstand more force when power washing them, but wood or vinyl siding might not be able to take as much. So try to match the pressure with the strength of the surface you’re working on, especially if you’re not trying to strip paint off the surface or erode it in any way.

If you’re not sure – go from lowest to highest pressure settings

Still accentuating the first point, it’s essential that if you’re not sure how much pressure it will take to clean a surface, try to go from the least pressure to the highest instead of going from the highest to the least.

By gradually increasing it from the lowest pressure to a higher nozzle, you’ll be able to find a balance where the water just cleans the stain, dirt, and grime off the surface instead of damaging the surface itself.

Slowly reduce the distance between the nozzle and the surface you’re cleaning

The closer the nozzle is to the surface you’re cleaning, the higher the pressure exacted on the surface. When using a particle spray tip or nozzle, you don’t want to start it very close to the wall or driveway you’re cleaning.

Just keep it a meters away then slowly get closer to the surface until the pressure is just enough to clean the surface. Then you can just maintain that pressure, not moving closer so that it doesn’t damage the surface you’re working on.

Use a turbo nozzle

use a turbo nozzle

A turbo or rotating nozzle is a special type of nozzle for pressure washing that rotates the jet of water as it exits the tip. This rotating action produces a scrubbing action that agitates and cleans the surface you’re working on a lot faster than when you’re just working with the standard uni-directional nozzles that come with the machine.

These are very effective, especially when you’re working on demanding cleaning projects like removing rust from walls or metal, cleaning metal or plastic tanks, garage floors, dirty pavements, and driveways, stripping paint from a surface to prepare it for repainting, and so on.

Use a cleaning solution or soap

use a cleaning solution

Sometimes, just pressure washing with plain water from your garden hose might not completely remove the years of stain, dirt, and grime on your siding, driveway, concrete pavement, and so on.

That’s why, in order to really clean up the stains and recover that original look, you need to apply some soap or cleaning solution to help dissolve the stain and make it easier to remove with the washer.

Conveniently, most pressure washing machines come equipped with a soap dispenser that allows you to pour in a cleaning solution so you can apply it on the surfaces you’re cleaning using the wand.

If you’re not sure of what type of soap to use, you can always visit your local hardware store like Lowes, and you’ll find several cleaning solutions you can use.

They’re usually all labeled according to the type of surfaces they’re good for. Some are designed for vinyl siding, dissolving grease on concrete and driveways, wood deck and fence, vehicle, and boats. In comparison, some are just multi-purpose for cleaning different types of surfaces.

So, you can really go through them and pick something best for the surface you’re trying to clean.

Spray surrounding plants and vegetation with water before applying the cleaning solution

Some of these cleaner solutions can be harmful to flowers, plants, and surrounding vegetation around your home. You’ll want to hose or spray these plants down with plain water first so they don’t absorb much of the chemicals from the cleaning solution.

Also make sure to spray at very low pressures because using very high pressures from the machine can just cut through the plants and kill them all the same.

Spray from top to bottom

If you’re pressure washing your home, slopy driveway, or pavement, it’s essential that you wash from the highest point to the lowest point.

That’s because all the dirt you wash from the top is going to flow downwards. So, if you’ve already washed the down part of your siding, and you’re washing the up, all the dirt from the upper part is going to settle down on the bottom, which will make you repeat or spray down the bottom part again.

Inspect the home and close any leaks before pressure washing

close any openings before spraying

If you want to wash your siding or exterior walls, you want to make sure every opening that can cause water to enter your home is closed off before you start washing.

That means you have to make sure your windows are closed properly, doorbells are wrapped up, exterior lighting is covered, and electrical outlets are covered with water-resistant tape to prevent water from entering.

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