With all the tools, nozzles, psi ratings and equipment, pressure-washing can be intimidating. But it was easier than I thought it would be. With advice from an expert and a little experimenting, I was able to make my driveway look like new in an afternoon. So, whether you want to extend its life or add a little curb appeal, here are some tips to get your driveway clean in no time.
TIME IT RIGHT
Pressure washers use a lot of water. If your water is supplied by a well, it’s best to tackle this job when other water use is light. You don’t want to deplete your well on laundry day or when you have a house full of guests. And if you’re in a drought, you may want to postpone for a few months.
TARP YOUR PLANTS
Concrete detergent can harm plants; before you begin pressure washing, cover them with tarps. I used canvas drop cloths, but they can be expensive. For a cheap, lightweight option, use a roll of painter’s plastic. Remove the tarps as soon as possible to avoid overheating the plants.
BLOW AWAY DEBRIS
Moving piles of debris with a pressure washer is a waste of time and water. Instead, use a leaf blower to clear away smaller debris like leaves, rocks, sticks and mulch. You can use a broom, but a leaf blower is faster and easier. Don’t rush this step, and clear as much as possible.
WEAR SAFETY GEAR
Pressure washers are loud, the water and other debris can splash back in your face, and you’ll be stepping around slick, soapy water. Always wear safety glasses, hearing protection and close-toe shoes with good traction. A powerful pressure washer can actually cut skin. Use it with caution, and keep it away from children.
BIGGER IS FASTER
The greater the pressure washer’s psi rating, the faster the cleaning job. I tested three pressure washers: 1,600, 2,300 and 3,100 psi. There’s no doubt that electric pressure washers from 1,300 to 2,300 psi can wash a concrete driveway, but it’ll take longer. If you have a large driveway with lots of stains, you’ll want more power to do the job faster. I chose the 3,100-psi gas pressure washer and cut the job time in half.
PURGE THE HOSE
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