Read these 16 Concrete Cleaning Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Pressure Washers tips and hundreds of other topics.
Adding a sandblasting attachment to a pressure washer can be very effective. However, how well wet sandblasting works also depends on the application that you are using it for. For instance, if you have a pressure washer capable of pumping out 4 GPM at 3,000 PSI, your unit will use 250 pounds of abrasive if used continuously for an hour. It has about half the effectiveness of a commercial sandblaster. However, sandblasting with a pressure washer is ideal in small building jobs where you already have a unit available. Environmental jobs may require you to wet sandblast. Building restoration projects in historical structures may also use wet sandblasting in lieu of chemical cleaning.
Use attachments to make concrete surface cleaning even easier. To speed up the process, use a turbo nozzle to cut through dirty areas much faster. If you're using this attachment, take care to keep your nozzle in constant motion as you go to make sure you don't create any unevenly cleaned areas. Another option is to use the floor brush attachment. Sweeping this accessory across your concrete floor will cut down on cleaning time and help you cut through grease, dirt, and grime.
To do concrete surface cleaning, get the appropriate chemical concrete surface cleaner for the job and start by setting your pressure washer on low. Apply the detergent to the concrete surface and start working section by section. If you are working with concrete flooring, make sure you work with the slope to allow for drainage of water runoff. As with other types of surfaces, allow your detergent to sit for five to ten minutes before you get ready to rinse. Set your nozzle to high pressure and use a 40" spray tip for optimal conditions. Test a small area first when you're rinsing and then move section by section to remove the detergent. For heavily soiled areas, you may need to make several passes. Before you know it, you'll be done with the job!
Soda blasting is a technique used with a pressure washer sandblaster where a more environmentally friendly method is required. Baking soda is the cleaning agent of choice rather than a material like sand because cleanup is not required with this material, except around landscaping areas. You would see this technique used most often in cleaning monuments and statues.
If you plan on doing any concrete surface cleaning, before you even start, make sure you prepare the surface for cleaning. It will make your job a whole lot easier in the long run. Here's what you need to do:
• Clear any obstacles from the cleaning area.
• Dampen nearby vegetation and cover to protect from damage.
• Make sure any exposed electrical wires or outlets are covered.
• Clear out any loose objects or debris.
The surface of a concrete parking lot requires additional care along painted areas to maintain the appearance. When using a pressure washer for concrete surface cleaning, make sure you cover areas where parking stall lines and directional markings must remain. For areas that will have touch ups, use either a zero degree tip or a rotating nozzle to clean up old areas prior to laying down new paint. For general areas, use a fifteen degree tip for cleaning and a zero degree tip or rotating brush to remove stubborn areas containing gum or tar.
If you're looking for a pressure washer for concrete surface cleaning, there are a range of products available that will do that job well. For most residential applications where you're cleaning your driveway or a similar surface, you can use an electric model with at least 1,000 PSI of water cleaning power or a gas powered model with at least 2,000 PSI of water cleaning power. Opt for an electrical model if you plan to do some cleaning indoors and if electrical access is not an issue. If you plan to do most of your cleaning outdoors and mobility is an issue. you can get a gas model.
Cleaning concrete with a power washer is a straightforward process. Water alone will do a good job of cleaning concrete, but if you need to remove grease or oil most pressure washers have an attachment to add pressure washing chemicals. Check the manufacturers recommendation as to what is the best pressure washer cleaning solution for your particular application. Acid-based cleaners work by chemical reaction on the surface. Use them only if strictly necessary (such as to remove graffiti) and use an acid neutralizer afterwards.
When you are ready to begin:
* Test the pressure spray on a small area to get used to the action.
* Adjust the spray to a small fan rather than a straight jet. Hold the nozzle about six to ten inches from the surface.
* Work in a steady manner, it should take about three to five minutes to clean three to four square feet.
* Take your time. Clean one section at a time before moving to the next. If you follow a random pattern you may find uneven streaks after the concrete dries.
You'll be surprised at how much better your surface looks after your are done pressure washing!
Add a sandblaster attachment to your pressure washer and you'll be capable of an extended range of tasks. Practical applications for this sandblaster attachment include removing graffiti, paint, grease, and rust. You can choose from a range of light duty, medium duty, or heavy duty attachments, depending on what your needs are. For an effective cleaning agent, use the sandblaster with dry silica sand, baking soda, or river sand.
Your pressure washer isn't just for spraying surfaces with water. With the right attachments, you can also use it as a sandblaster. You'll need to start with a unit that has a minimum of 3000 PSI of water pressure. Add a sandblasting attachment and you can transform your pressure washer into a whole new tool. Next on your list, get an ideal abrasive like a crushed glass abrasive, which contains no hazardous materials and is lightweight.
With concrete surface cleaning, you should use a 40" spray pattern for optimal cleaning results. The distance that you keep your nozzle will vary based on the cleaning power of your pressure washer. If you have a unit that is running at less than 2,000 PSI, keep your nozzle distance a foot or closer to the surface. For pressure washers running at 2,000-3,000 PSI, one to two feet is a good distance. For a powerful pressure washer, capable of more than 3,000 PSI, allow for about two feet of distance.
You've got your sandblaster attachment set up on your pressure washer and your abrasive ready to go. Now what? To get good results, keep your wand slanted at a low angle to the surface that you'll be blasting. Test a small area of the surface to get a feel for the results you're looking to achieve. Once you're ready to cover the remaining area, move at a steady and quick pace until you find the appropriate speed that works. Keep your nozzle about 18"-24" away from the sandblast surface as an ideal distance.
If you are washing a large flat concrete area, moving the pressure washer wand over the entire surface would be too time consuming. You may want to look into a flat wheel mounted power washer.
An entry level model is inexpensive and results in enormous time savings. They are easy to use, since you walk behind it like a powered lawn mower. For large flat concrete surface cleaners like parking lots, warehouses and tennis courts, among other applications, these flat surface concrete cleaners do the job faster and therefore can turn into savings in labor costs.
Most electric power washers with a rating of a minimum 3000 psi and a flow rate of 4 gallons per minute should be effective to be used as concrete cleaners.
However, if you need to power wash hard contaminants like paint or thick vehicle skid marks, you will need a high pressure washer with a higher rating.
If your concrete is laid in a large flat area such as a warehouse, parking area or a tennis court, there are flat cart mounted power washers that resemble a lawn mower and make the job easier. The hot water pressure washers are more expensive and heavier than the cold-water type but they are excellent to remove oil and grease and to work in colder weather.
You may also want to consider a trailer mounted pressure washer depending on the size of your job.
A pressure washer should be handled with care, as any other power tool in your shop. Always wear protective eyeware and clothing. Never leave the pressure washer running unattended. Remove any lose debris or small objects from the area before pressure washing as they could become airborne under the pressure from the jet. Never point the power washer at a person or animal.
If used according to the manufacturers instructions, power washing systems are ideal for keeping concrete surfaces looking like new.
Most concrete surfaces are suitable for pressure washing. Avoid, however, any stenciled or imprinted areas as the pressure of the spray can wash off the design. You will get great results power washing pavers and stone but you should be careful on laminar sandstone as the more powerful washers could scrape off the thin layers.
When in doubt about whether your particular surface is able to withstand the water pressure from your high pressure power washing equipment, it is a good idea to test a small area beforehand. Chose a section that is not very visible and see how that reacts to the spray.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|