You’ve probably seen the videos of old brick hardscapes being restored by the powerful blast of a pressure washer. And it’s true that pressure washing bricks can be a safe and effective method to remove dirt and debris. Done correctly, it’s a satisfying and efficient way to clean your pavers and brick walls.
Dirt, grime, moss, and mildew accumulate on hard surfaces exposed to the elements. Over time, your gorgeous outdoor space can take on a dingy patina. A bit of aging is often appealing, but the nasty discoloration left behind from years of neglect isn’t what you’re looking for in your brick surfaces.
Renting a pressure washer might seem like the perfect weekend task to bring your hardscape back to this century. But, if you’re not careful, you could end up making a costly mistake.
Join us as we look at the right way to pressure wash your brick surfaces!
What to avoid when pressure washing brick
Pressure washers use powerful streams of cold water and detergents to deep clean surfaces around your home. They’re commonly used for cleaning cars, hard surfaces, siding, and walkways. Because they’re readily available, it’s easy for them to fall into inexperienced hands.
Here are a few things to avoid when pressure washing bricks.
Don’t use high pressure
Most pressure washing machines have adjustable settings that let you dial in the right level for your project. Used at the wrong pressure (PSI), they can cause irreparable damage to your property, requiring costly replacement. You should use between 500 and 1000 PSI for brick to avoid damage.
Professional machines have a wider range, so the pros can go as low as 100 or as high as 1500 to 2000 PSI, but they have the knowledge to do so safely.
Avoid using solutions that cause damage to brick
Cleaning solutions multiply the cleaning power of a pressure washer. Using the right ones can leave your surfaces looking pristine. But, because brick is a porous material, the wrong solution can erode your hardscaping. Several companies manufacture masonry-safe cleaning products to use in conjunction with your pressure washer.
At home, a solution of boric acid and water or dish detergent and baking soda is ideal for interior bricks needing a refresh. Avoid harsh cleaners because they can lead to discoloration and damage.
Don’t clean with a wire brush or other steel cleaning products
You might be tempted to use a wire brush on your brick walls to get the hardest stains out. But scrubbing your brick surfaces with metal bristles can damage the surface instead. Similarly, metal cleaning tools can damage the brick face and may require complete resurfacing.
Orbital sanders and other power tools also cause damage to the delicate surface of your walls and hardscape. Instead, use a sponge or brush to get out your frustration!
How to properly pressure wash a brick surface
Done properly, pressure washing is an efficient and effective cleaning solution for masonry. Following the right steps can result in a smooth and nearly effortless experience.
1. Prepare your brick for pressure washing
Before you begin pressure washing your brick surfaces, you’ll want to inspect them for any damage. At least a week beforehand, check for any cracks or missing mortar and make repairs. One week is enough time for your masonry repairs to cure before your cleaning begins fully.
Water under pressure can seep into cracks and get behind the bricks. Repairing damage ahead of time prevents mold and erosion.
2. Choose a safe cleaning solution
Do some research before choosing the right cleaning solution for your brick. You’ll want to choose based on the location (indoor or outdoor), type of stain, and whether it’s meant to be used in a pressure washer. Not all detergents are rated to be used in these machines, and using the wrong one can result in a clog or damage to the components.
3. Soak your brick in water
Bricks are porous and absorb dirt and grime easily. Soak your brick surfaces thoroughly to bring these elements to the surface. You can use a low-pressure setting to help remove any dirt or debris. Additionally, soaking creates a protective barrier between your masonry and the cleaning solution.
4. Apply your chosen cleaning solution
Once you’ve saturated the bricks, apply the appropriate cleaning solution using a low-pressure setting on your power washer. Go from bottom to top for walls or end to end for walkways, making sure that you’ve covered the entire surface. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how long the solution needs to sit before proceeding.
5. Pressure wash the surface & solution
After several minutes, rinse the bricks using a low-pressure nozzle. While you can work with higher pressure here, we don’t recommend going over 800 PSI during this step. Use horizontal strokes to ensure you’ve rinsed all the surface areas where you applied the detergent.
If you notice spots that didn’t get cleaned during this step, mark them so you can go back and spend a little more time on them.
6. Final rinse of your brick surface
Use your garden hose to give your brick surface a final rinse. Don’t leave any cleaning solution residue behind, as it can damage bricks if left on too long. Once the brick is dry, address the areas you marked that weren’t cleaned during the previous steps. You can use a sponge or soft-bristled brush to spot-clean these stubborn stains.
Other frequently asked questions about pressure washing brick
While we know our process is thorough, you likely still have a few questions about pressure washing your brick walls. Here are the answers to some of the most common!
Can you pressure wash brick without a cleaning solution?
The simple answer here is yes, but there’s more to the story. Pressure washing without a cleaning solution will only attack the surface dirt. It won’t remove stubborn stains that the chemical components of cleaners are designed to remove.
If you don’t want to use a manufactured product, several DIY solutions can be applied by hand. Boric acid and water or baking soda, dish detergent, and water are both effective solutions.
Should you hire a professional to pressure wash brick?
Hiring a professional to pressure wash your brick surfaces is a good investment. They’re skilled, insured, and have the equipment to do the job right the first time. Experienced pros won’t damage your bricks with the wrong cleaning solutions or destroy surfaces with the wrong setting on the pressure washer.
Only use fully insured contractors to protect yourself in the event of damage.
How often should brick be pressure washed?
Most experts recommend pressure washing brick every one to three years to maintain its appearance and prevent damage. You’ll need to clean your bricks more often if you live in a high-traffic area with many atmospheric pollutants.
Premier Pro Wash & Seal are Tampa’s trusted pressure-washing experts!
When your brick surfaces start looking dingy and tired, Premier Pro Wash & Seal can help! Our team is one of Tampa’s most trusted pressure-washing experts. With years of experience in the industry, our licensed and insured team will leave your surfaces and walls looking brand new.
Check out our website to schedule your free consultation today!