Pressure washing can be extremely effective at cleaning any surface, but it can also be quite damaging. What about concrete, though? Can pressure washing damage concrete driveway?
It can. A lot of people are unaware of the extent of damage pressure washing can inflict on a concrete surface. Sometimes, the damage is manageable; other times, it’s irreversible!
The good news is, it’s possible to avert the damage completely with the help of a few simple guidelines.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the dos and don’ts of pressure washing. We’ll also share the best way to wash your driveway without damaging the concrete.
Let’s get started!
How to Prevent Concrete Driveway Damage
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A damaged driveway sticks out like a sore thumb. You’ll find a lot of etching and bits of concrete everywhere. Of course, once you have engraved lines in your driveway, you’ll need to resurface the concrete to cover it up.
Concrete resurfacing is an expensive process, and the best way to avoid it is to be cautious with pressure washing.
If it’s your first time pressure washing and you don’t trust yourself with the hose, you can hire a professional service to do it for you. Please bear in mind that some types of concrete are more sensitive than others, so if your neighbor employs high-pressure nozzles with no complaints, it doesn’t mean you should do the same.
So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the most important dos and don’ts to safely wash your driveway.
DO Limit the Water Pressure
The pressure of your water is the most important element to safe power washing. Most people don’t exceed the 3,000 PSI mark, especially if the concrete isn’t in its best condition.
If you feel confident with a pressure washer, you can increase the pressure to 3,500 PSI. Just make sure you use extra caution and follow the next steps.
DO Use the Right Nozzle
Using the wrong nozzle can easily damage the concrete. The best nozzle to use is a 25-degree nozzle, as it strikes a good balance between spread and efficacy.
You can use 15-degree nozzles for stubborn stains, but your concrete could get damaged if it’s not fortified.
It should go without saying that using a 0-degree nozzle isn’t recommended and could be quite dangerous to use.
If the nozzles are color-coded and don’t offer further information, use a nozzle with a green tip. Yellow and red tips are too narrow and can damage the concrete. Black and white nozzles are too wide and are designed for things like windows and cars.
DO Work in Good Lighting
Pressure washing your driveway requires you to keep a good eye on where you point the hose. This can be nearly impossible if you’re working in the dark.
We recommend finishing the job in daylight to be able to easily identify which areas to clean. If you’re going to wash your driveway at night, you should only do it under strong lighting and remember where all the vulnerable spots are.
DO Prepare Your Driveway
Checking the driveway first is essential before starting the washer. You’d be surprised by the number of things that can be broken or damaged with the slightest water pressure.
First, you need to cover any areas that can be damaged, such as windows, outdoor furniture, wooden decks, etc.
If you love growing plants, you better not bring that washer near them. Just one swoosh of water can obliterate the plants from their roots.
Finally, make sure your pets don’t run across the washer and educate any young family members on the dangers of running into a pressure washer.
DON’T Get Too Close
Starting your hose from a close distance would probably damage your driveway instantly.
You should start your hose at least ten feet away from the concrete. This will give you more surface area to clean and won’t concentrate the pressure on one spot.
Once you gain some confidence, you can take a couple of steps forward until you’re 5-7 feet away. You should never get closer than five feet so the pressure isn’t too intense.
DON’T Concentrate on One Spot
You should never direct your hose at one point for a long time. This is the main cause of concrete damage. Instead, keep moving the nozzle across your driveway, from up to bottom or from left to right.
It’s best not to move the nozzle in alternating directions, either. This will still put a lot of pressure on specific areas and can negatively impact the concrete.
DON’T Remove Mold or Stains
Mildew, mold, oil, or rust stains are all impossible to remove with water pressure. The more you aim the nozzle at these spots, the more you’re hurting the actual concrete.
First, mildew and mold indicate that there’s a problem with your driveway. You need to use specialized cleaners like ACT Concrete Cleaner for Mold and Mildew.
Second, rust stains will only be removed with actual bits of concrete. Instead, you should use something like the Singerman Laboratories Rust Remover.
Finally, oil stains shouldn’t be removed by water pressure. Even if the stain is gone, this is only the surface layer. The oil is still there and will resurface after a few hours. We recommend Oil Eater Original for tough stains.
DON’T Remove Sealant Coating
There are professional ways to remove sealers other than using water pressure. If you try to remove the coating, you’ll have to keep concentrating on the same area. This will always lead to a chunk of concrete blasting and leaving terrible etch marks.
You should be aware that the surface layer is the strongest. Exposing the inner layers will cause your concrete to deteriorate rapidly. In this case, you might need to resurface your driveway.
If you’ve followed our article closely, you can now confidently grab your hose and start spraying the concrete without worrying about damaging it. As long as you don’t concentrate on one spot and aim with an angle, you should be safe.
Remember, keep your pets away from the water since they can easily get injured. Don’t forget that blasting off debris can bounce back and hit you, so we recommend you keep your face protected.