Pressure washers are the best solution to have your patio and pathway gleaming like a shiny new pin. They’re a great way to clean the grunge and grime from brick, stone and concrete pathways. Using a pressure washer properly, they will bring out the best in your stone work but before we get to that bit, you need to do some preparation work first.
First Things First
Once you’ve decided your patio area and driveway need a good clean, the first thing to do is to move all of the furniture and any equipment away from the area. This is also a good time to check that all your patio furniture is in good shape and weed out the good stuff from the things that have reached the end of their useful life. You should be aware that solid hardwood patio furniture can be restored and refinished so don’t be too hasty in chucking things out.
Once the area’s been cleared of furniture, give it a good sweep with a strong broom. You can find brooms that are purpose built for using on patios and driveways from your local hardware store.
If you’ve neglected your path and patio for some time, you might find that weeds have started to appear. Use a suitable weed removal tool and then sweep the whole area free of dirt and weeds. It’s important to remove weeds as they can grow and spread which can cause your patio tiles to shift which, in turn, causes added problems when water gets under the tiles and starts eroding the sand which supports the tiles underneath.
If you’re cleaning your patio in Autumn, a leaf blower is good for blowing all the dead leaves and weeds you’ve pulled into one heap which saves time when you’re clearing it away.
Once you’ve done all that, it’s time for the pressure washer if you have one. If you prefer not to do that yourself, there will be many local companies who can come and do a professional job for you but if that proves expensive, it’ll mean getting down on your hands and knees with a scrubbing brush so a pressure washer will not only get the job done better, it will also save you a lot of valuable time.
Pressure Washer – Safety
Before you use the pressure washer, put on protective eyewear such as goggles and wear gloves before starting it. Check that all connections are tight. If the nozzle is loose it could suddenly become a lethal projectile flying towards someone or even damage your property. If you’ve never used a pressure washer before, it’s absolutely crucial to hammer home that this is no ‘souped’ up hose pipe. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and never point a pressure washer at a person or animal.
Time to Begin
Firstly, you should assess the project and devise a strategy for cleaning which takes into account the direction in which the pathway drains and the location of any fragile objects such as plants, pots and any light fittings, though you should try and move as many of these items away where possible prior to starting. Aim to work in the direction in which the water drains so that you’re not coming up against the effects of gravity.
Select a nozzle or tip that’s suitable for the project. Most manufacturers recommend a higher PSI (pounds per square inch) of 3000 or more for cleaning concrete and stone pathways and less than 3000 for brick surfaces. Most models come with nozzles that specifically state what type of surface they should be used on, i.e. masonry, stone, concrete so that you don’t have to worry about the PSI. If in doubt, consult your owner’s manual or your garden centre should be able to advise you. Attach any accessories when you connect the nozzle.
When you start up the pressure washer, test the spray. Begin by spraying away from the pathway and then, when you’re happy it’s all working fine, point the nozzle towards the area in which you’re working keeping it about 3 or 4 feet away from the surface. Make a few ‘sweeps’ first and then stop for a minute and check if the area is clean. If not, move a little closer. Use slow, methodical movements to rinse the pathway of all the dirt and grime using water only at this stage.
Remember that the grout between masonry and stone is vulnerable to pressure so don’t point the nozzle directly at these areas for too long or at a direct angle. After you’ve cleaned the whole area with just water, you can add a chemical for treating the pathway surface. The correct chemical will depend on the type of surface you’re cleaning so seek advice if you’re not sure. Once you’ve gone round again, you should wait for 5 or 10 minutes and then finish off by going round a third time to rinse the chemical solution away. Of course, if your pathway’s not too dirty, it’s not essential to add a chemical solution but it can add to its shine.
Allow 48 hours for the pathway to dry before sealing or coating the concrete, masonry or stone. Your garden centre or DIY store can advise you on how to do this.