It goes without saying that hardscapes are a great option for outdoor use. Bricks and concrete are durable paragons that can serve loyally for years and years; however, they are neither indestructible nor have an unlimited lifespan. The best way to boost their longevity and appearance is to conduct proper maintenance. It eliminates signs of aging and wear and tears from your brick and concrete surfaces. Just bear in mind that improper or overly aggressive cleaning can do more harm than good. That is to say that there are some tips to follow if you want to get the job done right. Here is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to finish cleaning with flying colors.
Tools of The Trade
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As we have indicated, regular maintenance is the key to preserving your outdoor area. Over time, and especially during the colder part of the year, brick and concrete surfaces tend to accumulate a lot of algae and mold. Older hardscape requires even more attention because it is more porous and stimulates faster build-up of grime. What is more, it can be easily damaged with shabby washing tools and techniques. But, the good news is that, if you know what you are doing, you can clean everything fairly quickly.
So, to get the ball rolling, you need to pick the suitable pressure and a nozzle tip and set up your pressure washer correctly. For most brick and concrete cleaning jobs, it is recommended to go for 3 GPM and 3000 psi. If you are unsure what these values mean, familiarize yourself with the basics from pressure washer buying guide. As for the nozzle tip, it is always a good idea to choose the widest angle. It not only handles hard surfaces well but also prevents you from degrading the hardscape.
Of course, remember that not all washers are created equal. It pays off to invest in high-grade products, such as the latest Karcher pressure washers. This heavy-duty tool is designed to meet industrial cleaning requirements and is certainly capable of tackling your outdoor space. So, shop around and do not skimp. Also, note that the areas that are stained with substances like oil demand extra tools, most often in the form of a soap attachment. On the other hand, when cleaning large areas, rotating sweeping attachments come in handy and prevent annoying arm fatigue.
Setting The Stage
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Apart from instruments, you have to pay close attention to the technique you use. Therefore, take your time to learn and practice before getting busy. You should always read the safety manual. After all, your pressure washer could have some specific steps that you need to follow when preparing, assembling, or operating it. In any event, you have to attach the spray wand tip for detergent as well as hoses.
Furthermore, know that prep work is necessary to ensure successful cleaning. Clear any debris, pebbles, branches, grass, and dirt that could be present on the surface. Get rid of other small items that could get in the way. Use a spray degreaser if necessary and scrub it into the surface. Cover exterior doors, windows, and other fragile features to protect them from loose debris. This will also help you avoid accidental paint and stain removal resulting from the pressure washer.
Once that is sorted out, prep the washer for detergent and attach the tip labeled “soap”. It is designed to soak the driveway or patio before you blast it. Then, spray the detergent by holding down the spray handle. Work your way around in a controlled manner, overlapping each stroke a bit (by 6 to 8 inches). The detergent should sit on the surface for 5 minutes. When the waiting time comes to an end, you can do the real cleaning work.
Master The Technique
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Replace the soap tip with the one labeled “25 degrees”. Start at one end of the surface and begin to apply pressure around 12’’ from it. Use an even, consistent motion throughout the process and maintain a slight angle. This is the best method to avoid streaking or inflicting any damage. Again, you should overlap your stokes. Be aware of the surroundings and wear eye protection to stay on the safe side. Also, if you encounter persistent stains, hold the tip just above the surface and move slower.
To deliver finishing touches, remove the debris from the concrete or brick surface. Employ a push broom or wide spray for this task. At last, when working with concrete, you should also seal it. To pull it off, use a waterproof sealer. Pour it into a paint pan and get a roller ready. Begin in the middle area and slowly go towards the edges. After covering the whole area, you should refrain from parking for at least 24 hours. There you go, your outdoor area looks as good as ever.
Oh, and just one final piece of advice: watch where the water you used to clean is going. In case it ends up in a storm drain and local stream, you are contributing to the environmental pollution. All those chemicals and oil should be pushed to the lawn and absorbed there. You could also block off the storm drain and let the water evaporate. As you can see, it does not take that much effort to follow the eco-friendly way of disposing of your cleaning residue.
Restored To Former Glory
So, you want to take care of your outdoor space and keep it clean and fresh? This is a sound strategy to boost the curb appeal of your property without actually breaking the bank. You have a chance to enjoy your space more, make the neighbors jealous, or attract potential buyers. But, before jumping in, there are a couple of things you should do. The approach differs only slightly when handling brick and concrete as in both cases, you need to tool up and educate yourself on washing techniques. Prep the surface and follow the guidelines every step of the way – make your patio and driveway look brand new again.