If you Google “power washing,” you’re likely to fall down a rabbit hole of wildly satisfying videos. Power washing footage tends to get plenty of clicks, because it’s a bit like witnessing magic—a wand is pointed, and voilá, the mess is gone! The ease with which grime and stains are lifted is seductive—the pros make it look so simple. But before you run out and rent a pressure washer, there are some things you need to know.
1. Power Washing and Pressure Washing are Not the Same Thing
If you rent a machine, it’ll probably be a pressure washer, not a power washer. Both machines use pressurized water, but power washers, used by most pros, use heated water. That added heat makes power washers uniquely qualified to tackle more stubborn, stuck-on gunk. A common mistake with DIY pressure washing is increasing the power to compensate for the lack of heat—and the result can be damaged property. With a power washer, hot water makes it possible to use a lower pressure and avoid such damages.
2. It’s Not Just Water
Another common mistake made by DIY pressure washers is using water alone. Depending on the surface, area, and offending debris, you’ll need to determine which cleaning agent to use and how much to add. Using only water can spread mold spores, but using too much cleaning solution can harm the surface you’re cleaning, poison your lawn, or cause other problems.
3. It’s Not as Easy as it Looks
Finding the right balance of heat, pressure, and cleaning solution is just one challenge of power washing. Different types of surfaces react differently to power washing, so research is key. For example, using a power washer on certain painted and stained surfaces can leave ugly gouges. Asphalt roofs are another tricky surface—power washing can lift the granules, causing serious and expensive problems. Windows and glass can crack under miscalculated pressure. Wooden structures can end up looking slashed—and if there’s any dry rot, you could end up destroying the structure altogether.
All of these surfaces can be power washed by someone with the right knowledge and skill—it’s all about research and experience.
4. It Makes a Huge Difference
Whether you decide to DIY it or hire professionals, you’ll be amazed at the difference a successful power wash can make. Power washing can:
- Make an older paint job look brand new
- Extend the life of a paint job
- Brighten up fences, porches, and gazebos, making gardens and lawns look sharper
- Scrape years of mold and mildew from stone walkways, courtyards, and decorative stone fixtures
- Clean up greasy, stained parking lots
- Increase safety in work areas by getting rid of slippery oils, flammable liquids, and other dangerous substances
- The list goes on!
Power washing is an affordable way to keep your home or business looking its best—and, it’s fun to watch. Before you try to go it alone, make sure you do plenty of research, and when in doubt, call the pros.