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December 14, 2018

What Is the Best Method for Driveway Power Washing?

It’s probably safe to say that not many homeowners schedule best driveway power washing on a regular basis, preferring to wash down their driveway with a garden hose themselves. However, this can be a mistake; there are many reasons for having your home’s driveway, sidewalks, and other such surfaces power washed on a regular basis, and for choosing a particular cleaning method for your property in particular.

The best method for driveway pressure washing will depend on the level of dirt and grime on the driveway itself, as well as the surface material and its overall condition.

Consider how to clean a driveway properly, and why it’s best to leave this work to a professional rather than thinking you can rent a power washer and manage the work on your own.

How Concrete and Asphalt Get Damaged

To understand why it’s vital that you hire a professional driveway pressure washer on a regular basis, you might note how it is that concrete and asphalt get damaged. These materials may seem strong and stable, but they are much more prone to damage from dirt and grime than you might realize!

How Concrete and Asphalt Get Damaged
  • Asphalt is made with a petroleum-based material that breaks down when exposed to motor oil and other petroleum products. An oil leak from your car or lawnmower will soften the binders that hold asphalt together. Cracks and outright potholes then begin to form.
  • Concrete absorbs moisture and softens, which can cause chips, cracks, and pits to form.
  • Concrete can also become brittle, especially when exposed to corrosive substances such as salt-clearing snow or chemicals used in fertilizers and other lawn care materials. The surface of concrete will then spall, meaning that it develops flakes or pitted areas.
  • Residue from acid rain, soot, and air pollution can also cause concrete to spall and may also break down the adhesion in asphalt.

Note that it’s often difficult to realize that the concrete and asphalt around your property is covered in damaging soot, acid rain residue, and the like, as you might assume a driveway or sidewalk is merely muddy or dusty. However, if left unchecked, these corrosive substances can cause premature damage to a property’s exterior surfaces so that you need to patch, repave, or outright replace them sooner than you should.

Why a Garden Hose Doesn’t Work!

A garden hose can rinse away leaves and twigs from a home’s driveway, but a standard hose typically doesn’t create enough pressure to clean that driveway thoroughly. Dirt and other residues will settle into pores and pits of concrete, asphalt, and patio pavers, and a garden hose is not strong enough to rinse away all that embedded debris.

A garden hose also won’t thoroughly clean acid rain residue, chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers, or soot from exhaust fumes. These substances cling to concrete and asphalt and won’t wash away with simple water and especially with the low pressure of a garden hose.

Professional driveway power washing will also remove peeling paint, as well as loosened aggregate that a garden hose is not strong enough to wash away. A homeowner might then note if their property’s concrete or asphalt need a fresh coat of paint or stain. Removing peeling paint and loose aggregate can also alert you to areas of the driveway or walkway that need patching or other such repairs.

Power Washing a Driveway Is Not a DIY Job

Since a garden hose is not sufficient for thoroughly cleaning a driveway, a homeowner might reason that they can just rent a driveway pressure washer and manage this work themselves. However, properly washing a driveway is not a DIY job! Note why it’s best to leave this work to a professional:

Power Washing a Driveway
  • It can be difficult to clean a driveway in such a way that water and other residue runs off its surface and into the street; however, allowing dirty water to splash onto your property’s grass can also mean allowing harmful chemicals to collect in the sod and then damage your lawn. A professional driveway pressure cleaning will know how to minimize any splashing and will ensure all residue is properly washed away from your property.
  • Using very high pressure on concrete or asphalt can loosen older aggregate and wash it away. Your concrete or asphalt will then have unsightly pits or pockmarks along the surface, and these crevices often hold dirt, mud, oil, and other such debris.
  • Water alone will not remove motor oil, soot, and other such residues from a driveway. A professional power washer will know how to clean a driveway with the right high-quality detergents. These cleansers will loosen grime right down to the surface of concrete or asphalt, so all dirt and debris can be rinsed away easily.
  • While oils and other such residues may need to be cleaned with specialty detergents, using the wrong cleansers or not rinsing them properly can cause concrete or asphalt to become dry and brittle. When concrete or asphalt become brittle, these materials may crack, chip, or spall.

Why Power Wash Your Property’s Entire Exterior

It may be obvious why a homeowner wants to have their driveway power washed on a regular basis, but many people don’t realize the benefits of also having their walkways, patio pavers and stones, porches, and other such surfaces pressure washed as well. One important consideration is that these concrete and stone surfaces will also suffer damage from exposure to excessive moisture, oil, soot, acid rain residue, and chemicals used in lawn care materials.

Patio stones and pavers often have lots of pits and crevices along their surface. Dirt, mud, moss, and algae may tend to burrow into those pits, causing the stones to soften and then crack. This debris will also create a slick surface that is dangerous for walking! Properly washing patio stones and pavers will then create a safe walking surface and also protect those features from premature damage.

Wood decks and porches are also notorious for holding moss, algae, mold, and other such debris on their surfaces. In turn, that wood will eventually soften or get brittle, and then cup, bow, warp, chip, or crack. Dirt, mud, and other such residues can also create an unsafe walking surface! Proper power washing of these surfaces will ensure wood decks and porches are safe for walking and will protect the wood itself.

When to Power Wash a Driveway

Power Wash a Driveway

Schedule professional driveway power washing anytime you notice spots, stains, soot, and other such residues on the surface of your property’s concrete or asphalt. This work might especially be needed after strong storms have moved through your area, or if your car has developed an oil leak and has been dripping oil or other automotive fluids on the driveway.

Driveway pressure cleaning should also be considered after wintertime, so all traces of snow-clearing salt is washed away before it has a chance to damage that concrete or asphalt. If you often spread fertilizer, weed killer, or other such chemicals on your lawn during springtime, wait until this work is finished before you power wash the driveway. That way, all damaging chemicals and residues are washed away.

It’s also good to power wash a driveway if you’re thinking of putting your home on the real estate market, to ensure the outside of your property looks fresh and new. If you’re considering repainting a concrete driveway, power wash it first, as you might be surprised at how bright the paint seems after a thorough cleaning! Even if you still decide to repaint, the driveway will then be clean and ready for a fresh coat of color or stain.

Why Soft Wash a Driveway

Soft wash systems use heavy-duty surfactants to gently eat away at thick dirt and grime, and low water pressure for rinsing. Note why this system can be the best when you’re wondering how to clean a concrete driveway:

  • Older driveways may have brittle and peeling paint that would come loose and then flake and chip under a high-pressure wash. A soft wash preserves that paint and the appearance of the driveway.
  • The surfactants used in a soft wash system can more readily dissolve thick oil and other such fluids that may be staining and damaging a home’s driveway. These surfactants then allow for a more thorough, deep cleaning overall.
  • The lower water pressure used for a soft wash cleaning will mean less splashing and splattering during the cleaning process. Less splashing means less mess and less scattering of those detergents or dirty residue all over your house, garage, lawn, and landscaping features.
  • Soft wash cleaning with low water pressure is less likely to chip or otherwise damage wood surfaces. This lower water pressure is especially important for wood features that are already pitted or cracked. The use of high water pressure can make those pitted areas worse and even outright crack wood decks and porches.

When you schedule driveway power washing, consider planning all these other exterior cleaning services as well, so your entire property looks its best and is always in good repair.

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