When it comes to cleaning flat surfaces that have seen years of dirt build-up, there’s no better way to do it than with a pressure washer. But as anyone who’s rented a pressure washer to clean their patio pavers or driveway can agree, you can’t just grab the machine, turn it on, spray down the surface, then call it a day. Doing so can take hours because it’s not the best method…
So, what is the best method for power washing your patio pavers and other flat surfaces?
For the best method, skip ahead to using a surface cleaner!
But first, here’s what not to do (and why):
If you rent a power washer from your local equipment shop or buy a machine from a big-box store like Home Depot, you’ll be stuck using a wand for power cleaning your surfaces.
It’s a horribly inefficient method; one that can lead to hours upon hours of frustration for homeowners who thought cleaning their patio or front walkway would be easy with pressure washer…
Each year, I receive dozens of calls from these homeowners and when I show up at their home, most of the surfaces look like zebras (watch the video above to learn more). I feel bad because it’s not their fault! Most patio paver cleaning videos online make cleaning large surfaces look easy! But problems start to creep up when you using inefficient methods…
Wands are the worst way to clean dirty flat surfaces for a numbers of reason… because of how small the nozzle is and how the fact you need to control the entire device by hand.
Pressure washing surfaces with a wand takes a long time because you need to keep the nozzle an even distance from the surface at all times. Doing so takes incredible patience and can really put a strain on your muscles if you’re cleaning large surfaces. And my guess is that you likely have a large surface to be cleaned if you’re reading this article!
Taking longer isn’t the only reason using a wand to pressure wash surfaces is inefficient.
Even if you were able to keep your patience throughout hours of trying to wash a large surface, you’d still most likely experience what’s called zebra-striping. Zebra striping happens when some areas are cleaned with lots of pressure, while others are cleaned with less pressure. Take a look:
You see, the further you hold the wand from the surface, the less pressure will hit it. This means less clean. And if you hold the wand as close to the surface as possible, you’ll get an almost perfect clean… But again, this will take lots of time.
Enter; surface cleaner!
Using a surface cleaner to clean up your stone or brick patio pavers is the #1 method for overall efficiency. It takes much less time and produces a completely even clean.
These machines are almost impossible to rent from local shops and can be extremely expensive to purchase outright, but most professional power washing companies will have a high-quality surface cleaner as part of their arsenal.
A surface cleaner is very similar to a walk-behind floor polisher, but instead of polish pads you have a 2-3 rotating arms that spin while shooting out high-pressure water. The more pressure that’s needed for cleaning, the faster the arms will spin. Most cleanings can be completed with the arms rotating between 1500-1800 rotations per minute.
The main reason surface cleaners are more efficient in cleaning stone, granite, and other flat surfaces is because the arms below provide a level, consistent clean. Unlike with the use of a standard power washing wand, you don’t need to worry about any height variance as you’re washing large surfaces.
Goodbye zebra striping!
Again, because consistency and speed of the rotating arms, you certainly won’t have to worry about zebra stripes when cleaning your patio pavers with a surface cleaner.
Give your local residential power washing company a shout to see if they have one in their truck. Cleaning surfaces on your property is an underrated way to add curb appeal to your home!
Massachusetts native Nathan Owens founded Now Powerwash in 2010. He's a proud father, United States Army veteran, and registered nurse. When he's not hard at work for Now Powerwash, you can find him saving lives in the Anna Jacques Hospital emergency room in Newburyport, MA.