Why Pressure Cleaning Pavers Isn’t a DIY Project
Check out our FAQs here:
Patio and driveway pavers get dirty over time and grow black mold, moss and weeds. Most paver owners think to hire a pressure washing company to clean them or run out to the local hardware store and rent a pressure washer and try to pressure wash the pavers themselves. Pressure washing concrete pavers, especially newer ones, can easily damage the surface finish and we strongly suggest not pressure washing unless you are highly experienced and have the right equipment to pressure wash pavers.
In most cases, to get pavers clean with a pressure washer it requires using a jet style tip. This amount of pressure will easily damage the surface. Using a fan tip typically will not damage, but likely won’t achieve the level of clean you’re after.
Concrete pavers are made from a concrete mixture of small aggregates all the way down to fines. Concrete paver manufacturers have created ways to get the surface of the paver smoother by getting the fines up to the top. It’s easy for a high-psi pressure washer and an inexperienced operator to remove these fines from the surface exposing the smaller aggregates in the paver. These fines in the paver are also what hold a lot of the color in the surface of the paver. The small aggregates don’t absorb color nearly as much, so without the fines you’ll basically be left with whatever color the small aggregate is.
Can Pressure Washing Damage Concrete or Pavers?
Cleaning your hardscapes is a fast, easy way to immediately increase your home’s curb appeal or improve outdoor living areas without spending a lot of money. You will notice an even more significant difference if your concrete, bricks or paving stones are dirty from years of neglect or if they have mold or algae growing on them.
Pressure washing is a popular way to clean hardscapes, and you can clean concrete, paving stones or bricks with a power washer. This is a convenient option using equipment that is widely available for purchase or that can be easily rented at tool rental yards or larger home improvement centers. There are no skills required to figure out how to turn on a pressure washer, aim and pull the trigger, so the fact that just about anyone can use them increases their appeal for tough cleaning jobs.
However, while the basics of power washing can be quickly and easily learned, using this powerful machine effectively without causing damage to yourself, someone else or your property is another thing entirely. Pressure washing horror stories include stripping paint off of houses, ripping off siding and shingles, damaging wood decks, destroying car paint jobs and even causing serious injuries.
The problem is not with pressure washing, itself; the problem is that inexperienced folks using a pressure washer can easily choose the wrong nozzle, use higher pressure than warranted or simply not understand how powerful a pressurized stream of water can be.
When using a power washer to clean concrete, bricks or paving stones, it is possible to cause significant, visible damage, which is usually in the form of pitting, lines or general surface degradation. You can also damage the mortar between bricks and disperse the joint sand between paving stones. In the case of concrete, slabs installed less than one year ago are more likely to be damaged than older slabs.
This damage is often caused by choosing the wrong nozzle, using higher pressure than necessary, holding the wand too close to the surface of the hardscape or directing the spray at the same place for too long.