Is Pressure Washing Bad for Concrete Surfaces?

Cleaning your home’s exterior can be done easily and effectively by pressure washing, which remains one of the most excellent ways to maintain everything from patios to sidewalks to driveways. The common assumption among homeowners is that pressure washing is a simple and easy DIY project. However, you stand the chance of causing extensive damage to your concrete surface if you don’t have the experience and skill of a professional.

Considering the intricacies that may come with pressure washing, this article addresses the question of whether pressure washing is bad for concrete surfaces. For further information, visit our website at gardencitypowerwashing.com.

How can a pressure washer damage your concrete?

A pressure washer does a great job at cleaning patios, sidewalks, and driveways that have stubborn stains. If you’d like to do the cleaning yourself, a pressure washer can be rented or purchased. The alternative – which is always the best – is to hire a professional pressure washing service to do the cleaning with high-grade equipment.

However, as effective as pressure washers can be, they can cause damage to concrete in many ways. Here are some of the ways that your concrete surface can be messed up with the machine.

  • If the pressure washer is being handled by an inexperienced person
  • If the pressure is not properly set
  • If a wrong nozzle is used
  • If the same spot is cleaned for too long
  • If the washer is held too close to the concrete surface

You should know that some types of concrete are more susceptible to damage than others.

What causes the damage?

The following are some of the factors that can cause damage to the concrete surface when pressure washing:

The condition of the concrete

One of the ways of knowing the concrete is of poor quality is the presence of holes in it. These holes serve as inlets of water into the concrete. With a large quantity of water absorbed into it, the concrete becomes weakened, resulting in cracks over time.

The concrete’s age

A concrete surface that is freshly poured can be delicate. Pressure washing such a surface can make the bonding between the concrete elements weakened. So, you want to give a newly poured concrete some time to get settled before attempting to pressure wash it.

Excess pressure

The pressure of water coming from the washer can sometimes be too strong for the concrete surface, thereby leaving visible water lines on it. Thankfully, the pressure of the washer can be adjusted to be gentle.

Another cause of damage to a concrete surface is when pressure is concentrated in a small area. So, the pressure washer nozzle must be carefully selected, preferably one with a wider angle to diffuse the strong pressure across a wider surface area.

Frequent cleaning

It is normal to find the sight of dirt, dust, or grime on your home’s exterior to be disgusting. However, cleaning the same concrete surface too frequently can weaken it.

The chances of damage to your concrete surface can be increased by pressure washing it as often as every week. The best way to go about the cleaning is to ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned, and then you wait until the buildup of dirt on the concrete surface is significant before you pressure wash it again.

What’s the right PSI to pressure wash concrete?

To safely and effectively clean a concrete surface, the recommended pressure rating of the pressure washer to be used should be at least 3000 psi with a flow rate of a minimum of 4 gallons per minute. While tough contaminants may require higher pressures, it is agreed by most pressure-washing contractors that most cleaning jobs can be done effectively with a pressure of 3000 psi.

Flow rate and nozzle type

With the proper water pressure established, the cleaning speed is determined by the flow rate, particularly the speed at which the washer flushes contaminants from the surface. Higher flow rates will be needed for concrete surfaces that are heavily soiled. Many contractors recommend a pressure washer of 5-6 GPM volume output. Higher flow rates may not be necessary when the surface to be cleaned is vertical, since gravity will contribute to flushing out the contaminants from the surface.

The use of a rotary nozzle, rather than the standard fan nozzle, can also increase the cleaning speed. In an attempt to create a fan pattern, standard nozzles deflect the water at an angle, thereby slowing the water down. The more effective rotary nozzle spins the water in a circular path, leaving the nozzle with greater speed.

DIY pressure washing vs. hiring a professional

  • Better Results: DIY is always an option as you can easily rent or purchase pressure washing equipment at most home improvement stores. However, pressure washing your concrete surface yourself is not likely to get you the best result. Professionals have the experience to know the best methods, water pressure, and detergents to use to get the best result. 
  • Save Yourself Time: Pressure washing your concrete surface may seem like an easy job that you can complete within a short time until you begin working. The truth is that it can easily become a tedious job, taking too much of your time. Leaving the job to pressure washing contractors saves you a lot of time, and you can spend time doing other important things. 
  • Safety: There are some safety risks involved with pressure washing services as they are often performed from an elevated height. In addition to their wealth of experience to prevent injuries while doing pressure washing, professionals are insured. So, in case of any injury, they’re covered. 
  • Damage Prevention: There is a chance of damage to your concrete surface when being pressure washed by an amateur. Professionals have the right equipment and know the necessary precautions to take to prevent any damage to your home’s exterior.

You can get a list of reputable pressure washing companies around you by checking out Angi.com. However, it is important that you do proper research before hiring any of them.

In closing

Pressure washing can be an effective way of cleaning concrete surfaces, as long as the concrete is not freshly poured, it is in good condition, and the pressure washing is being performed by someone with expertise and experience. When done incorrectly, pressure washing could cause permanent damage to the concrete surface, thereby necessitating extensive repairs.

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