Q: I recently had my house painted, and now I want to clean my driveway to spruce up the front of the house a bit. Since we park our cars in the garage I really don’t have oil stains to worry about. Any ideas?
A: It sounds like a pressure washer is the ticket for you. It provides a fast way of getting rid of the surface dirt, it’s easy to use, and it makes you feel like a man as you ruthlessly blast away dirt while the device spits and hisses.
One day as I was opening the tailgate of my truck, a can of paint fell out and as it hit the ground in slow motion, the top popped off and paint started to run down the driveway. I quickly dabbed up as much of it as I could, and then I switched to wet rags and scrubbed the concrete for all it was worth.
Luckily, I got all of the paint up, but in my scrubbing motion, I really cleaned that portion of the concrete. I wasn’t about to scrub the rest of the driveway to get it to match, so I rented a pressure washer.
Pressure washing, or power washing, can make quick work of cleaning projects. For concrete that has oil stains, start by scrubbing with a degreaser and elbow grease, then break out the pressure washer.
You can also try TSP (trisodium phosphate), which works fairly well. You can mix TSP with talcum powder to form a paste and then cover the stain with the paste until it dries. Then scrape up the paste and scrub. The TSP is a cleaner and the talcum powder acts as a sponge in absorbing the filth.
You can buy commercial products that will help lessen stains and oil spots as they dry. You won’t totally get rid of the stain, but treating and scrubbing it will diminish its appearance.
You can rent a 3,000- to 4,000-psi pressure washer from a rental yard for about $100 for a half day. That is plenty of time for a driveway, especially with a powerful machine in your hands.
One of the dangers with a high-pressure spray, however, is that it might blow out loose or weak areas in the driveway, so pay close attention while you work and wear safety goggles.
Some machines have a feature that allows you to mix detergent in the line as it pumps out water. It’s your choice to add detergent to the spray or you can apply it to the driveway and then spray it off — just make sure whatever detergent you add is environmentally safe. But this step just creates more work, and that’s the last thing you want to do on your weekend. Most people use just straight water to blow and go.
Using the machine is a matter of connecting the hoses correctly. The garden hose connects to the inlet, and the sprayer hose connects to the outlet.
Fire up the machine, and you are ready to spray. The sprayer wand will usually have an adjustable tip, but it might come with different sized tips so you can get different concentrations of water.
Start at the top of your driveway and, using a wide angle spray, hold it at a 45-degree angle about a foot from the driveway surface. Spray an area and see if it produces the finish you want. If not, adjust the spray pattern for more blasting power in difficult areas.
You might have to go over some areas multiple times. Always remember to direct the spray down and away from your body.
Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project: Pressure washing
Cost: Under $100
Time: 2-4 hours