ARTICLE FROM HOMEADVISOR.COM
Power washing can be done on almost any surface and is a great way to keep things like your driveway, siding, decks and patios looking almost brand new on a yearly basis. However, it’s a common misconception that power washing yields the same result as pressure washing or vice versa. Before you consider spending between $183 and $379 on either, be sure you know the difference between the two and how they apply to common areas of the home.
On This Page:
- Pressure Washing versus Power Washing
- Pressure Washing Costs & Considerations
- Cost to Pressure Wash a House
- Driveway Pressure Washing Prices
- Cost of Deck or Patio Pressure Washing
- Power Washing Costs & Considerations
- Siding Power Washing Rates
- Driveway Power Washing Estimates
- Deck or Patio Power Washing Guide
- Hiring Power or Pressure Washing Services
- Power Washing Hazards
Pressure Washing versus Power Washing
When determining whether to do power or pressure washing, understand they are two very different practices. If you do the wrong one, you could end up damaging your siding, deck, patio or driveway. Here are a couple differences:
- Temperature: Power washing is hot water, which allows it to get rid of stains and particularly difficult items like dirt, grime, mold, fungus and so on.
- Force of the water: Pressure washing uses the high velocity to get off dirt, dust and other items from houses, siding, decks, patio and driveways. It is especially common for masonry, because concrete, cinder block and brick tends to build up dust, dirt and grime and will need regular cleaning every year.
Pressure Washing Costs & Considerations
Pressure washers can be bought or rented and used to clean just about anything outside. They work by pressurizing water from a garden hose to 1,000 lbs. and forcing it out a spray wand. Homeowners can get an electric or gas pressure washer for occasional use and set it at 1,300 to 2,400 psi for best results. If you decide to hire a professional, these are the estimated rates you can expect to pay:
|Area to Wash||Low||High|
|Deck or Patio||$250||$500|
Should You Use an Electric or Gas Washer?
Electric Pressure Washers
Electric washers have a range of 1,300 to 1,400 psi and are best for washing cars, grills and garage floors. They can cost around $90 to $200 depending on the pressure you need. They are quiet and portable so you can quickly clean your driveways and decks. Homeowners will have to plug them in to run them, and they require a 120-140V GFCI outlet.
Gas-Powered Pressure Washers
In contrast, gas washers can deliver more than 3,000 psi and are good for cleaning siding, decks and concrete. They can be rented and bought and have accessories added onto them like chemical injectors and longer spray wands. It’s estimated they cost anywhere from $300 to $800.
How Much Does it
Average estimates: $100 to $300
Unless your house is very small, an electric washer will not be able to clean your house or siding. You will have to rent or buy a gas-powered washer, which may or may not be able to handle what’s on your siding. Problems like mildew, mold, fungus and algae, for example, cannot always be treated because it’s cold water. Often you will have to hand treat the area with a chemical solution and then wash it. If it’s just dust or dirt that needs to come off the house or siding, you should be able to wash it. It is good for removing residue when you want to paint a house or prepare it for a showing. It is effective on wood, granite, asphalt, bricks and aluminum. It will not work, and possibly harm, hardie board and vinyl. Those types of siding will need to be hand-treated with a garden hose and soap.
Average Prices for Pressure Washing Driveways
Average estimates: $80 to $200
Concrete, paver, bricks, tiles and asphalt can be cleaned quickly with a pressure washer. The high pressure will speed up the process, as long as you use a washer that has a PSI of at least 3,000. This means you should be using a gas washer and not an electric one. Do not use a pressure washer on a gravel driveway as it blow rocks away. These will also not be effective in removing stains, so be sure you use a power washer when trying to remove those made from oil or other car deposits.
How Much Does it Cost to Pressure Wash a Deck or Patio?
Average estimates: $250 to $500
Pressure washing is a great practice to perform on your patio or deck during the spring to get rid of all those leaves and dirt buildup. It’s a quick cleaning machine that saves on you having to get out the broom and spend hours outside. You can also get rid of all of that buildup without chemicals, which saves the environment and keeps any plants you might have on the deck or patio from getting sprayed with chemicals. You can use an electric washer to clean your deck or patio, which means spending less money than you would on a gas washer. Plus the low PSI of 1,500 to 2,000 will avoid your deck being etched into while still getting the dirt and grime off. Also electric washers have a chamber for you to add soap detergent, so you can put in some natural, non-toxic cleaning solution if your patio or deck needs some extra “oomph” to get clean.
pressure washing prices
Power Washing Costs & Considerations
In many situations power washing is the only way to get rid of the dirt and grime on your siding, decks and driveways. There are four pieces to this practice you should understand: adding a solution, heat, water flow and pressure. Also you don’t always have to add a cleaning solution, which can cut down on the chemicals you might get onto your landscape or home.
The price of power washing is less expensive than many other improvements you could make to the home. If this is an improvement you do before a sale, make sure you do it far ahead of the showings. If you choose to DIY, be sure you consult with a professional about how to properly operate the machine and know which additional tools to purchase.
|Area to Wash||Low||High|
|Deck or Patio||$250||$420|
A good time for power washing is when you want to increase curb appeal. It’s a good way to add value without doing extreme improvements like digging up the landscape, adding a walkway and general remodels to the landscape. It’s less expensive than hiring a landscape architect to design your front lawn and achieves an almost brand new look for your home exterior. If you decide to power wash your home exterior, it’s good to protect your doors, windows and plants from the pressure, as it could break windows and doors if you’re not careful. That’s why professionals know how to operate it properly and avoid such damages.
pressure washing prices
Typical Rates for Power Washing Siding
Average estimates: $220 to $380
Power washing is not always the best option for houses and siding. Many professional services do not recommend it. This is because many types of siding are not made to handle the incredible force or heat shot at almost point-blank range. Paint can be peeled off by the heat and force, screens destroyed, windows cracked and so on. There’s also the danger of high-pressure hot water going through doors and window seals, which will send water inside the home that can soak into furniture, flooring and walls. There also certain types of siding–hardie board and vinyl, particularly–that can be severely damaged by high-pressure water and blown off or start to grow mold afterwards. Homeowners should speak with professionals about whether or not it is the proper approach. They can inspect their siding and see if it would hold up against such pressure and heat. They might recommend pressure washing instead, or that homeowners take a more gentle approach like a garden hose and soap.
Average Estimates for Power Washing a Driveway
Average estimates: $130 to $220
Power washing concrete driveways can be the best way to get rid of stains and dirt, which will extend the life of the driveway. In cases where water alone doesn’t work, homeowners may have to add some cleaning solution to the washer to get those stains out. This might be the case with those made from oil. Power washing driveways made from brick and tile might be effective as well for getting dirt and grime out from in between slats. Homeowners should be sure they’re deeply rooted in the ground though, or else the water pressure could uproot them. Driveways made of gravel should not be washed because the rocks will easily move from the application of water pressure.
pressure washing prices
Average Prices for Power Washing a Deck or Patio
Average estimates: $250 to $420
Power washers can have pressures of 4,000 psi (pounds per square inch) to lesser pressures of maybe a few hundred and run by gas or electric. This means that professionals will probably use one with less pressure to clean a deck and maybe one with higher pressure to clean a patio. Professionals just need to avoid etching into the deck, which could lead to wood replacement or sanding down boards and re-staining them. Here are some professional recommendations when it comes to washing a deck or patio:
- Water pressure for soft wood (cedar or pine): about 500 psi to 600 psi and harder woods: no more that 1200-1500 psi.
- Use a fan tip.
- Never get closer than a foot from the deck.
- Keep a consistent distance as you sweep by moving your arm back and forth.
- Work from the house outward.
- Work with the grain.
Tips for Hiring Power or Pressure Washing Services
While you can buy high-powered power and pressure washers at local home improvement stores, companies have the knowledge and experience of working safely with these products. They know how to target a home exterior, decks, patios and driveways without hurting doors, windows or individuals. If you consider hiring a service, this is what their business should have:
- Advanced Equipment: They should have state-of-the-art equipment, not the kind you can buy at your local home improvement store.
- Sustainable Practices: A business must follow strict EPA regulations regarding runoff water and environmentally-safe chemicals, if needed.
- Insurance: The business must carry their own insurance to pay for any damages to a home should it occur during the service.
- Efficiency: They should have the experience to do the practice quickly and efficiently so that your siding, deck or driveway needs to be washed only once a year.
When getting a quote on these services, make sure they include the price of the materials like soap and general equipment used. The price should also include labor, time and size of the area they’re going to clean. Sometimes the company will bring water and pumps instead of using your water. If they do use your water, check to make sure you won’t be charged for it. To be sure you hire the best service for your job, you should speak with at least 3 to 4 professionals in your area. In addition to having the list above, these are some of the questions to ask each of them to gauge their business:
- Are you bonded?
- Do you have worker’s compensation?
- What are your certifications?
- Can you provide references for previous power/pressure projects?
Power Washing Hazards
Because the water used is powerful and hot, it can be easy to ruin surfaces or get injured. That’s why you should probably hire a professional service because they will know what can or can’t be cleaned using this method. Here are some tips if you decide to proceed with a DIY approach:
- Look for damage in the machine like cracked hoses, broken seals or rust on the nozzle.
- Read the safety instructions!
- Wear safety goggles or a face shield.
- Don’t stand too close when spraying the area, at least five or six feet away to be safe.
- 40 degree nozzles are best for siding and decks, while a 0-degree nozzle is good for getting rid of mud and stains on driveways.
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pressure washing prices
Why is the Outside of my House Green and How Do I Clean It?
A lot of home owners have a similar question at some point in their lives, “Why is my house turning green and how do i fix it?” Chances are the green on your home is green algae, moss or mildew. The good news is it is fairly simple to clean.
Cleaning Algae from Large Areas, Like Your Entire Home
If you have a large area that needs to be clean, like your entire home, do the following:
Either rent a pressure washer with an exterior cleaning solution or hire a professional. Hiring a professional could end of saving you in the long run, especially if you have brick exterior. Bricks and especially the mortar between them can be damaged by using a power washer incorrectly and the repairs on that will be far more expensive than the cost of hiring someone to take care of it for you.
What Causes Algae, Moss and Mildew to Grow On The Side of my Home?
Areas with a lot of sun will be more likely to grow the green stuff.
If the area it is growing is constantly damp, there is your problem. Make sure there are not irrigation nozzles facing your home. Check to see if the area holds water. If it holds water, you may want to create a small trench to drain the area or install some drainage. If it is a continuous problem, you may want to invest in gutters for your roof to divert water away during storms.
Believe it or not, dirt can be the culprit even when everything else has been taken care of. Dirt is able to hold enough water to allow your algae infestation to take hold. If this is your problem, you should look into having your home power washed. A good preventative measure for this would be storm gutters for your roof. Another helpful, and cheaper, option would be mulching the beds near the problem area to prevent rain from splashing dirt onto the wall.
Plants can leave sap and living tissue on your home. Algae loves this stuff. Keep your plants properly pruned away from your home. If you are planning a new landscape bed, try and keep a good distance from your home. One mistake a lot of people make is they plant shrubs and trees a good distance from their home at the size the plant is when they put it in the ground. Unless you transplanted the shrub or tree full grown, you will have a problem with it in a few years.
Areas of your home’s exterior without proper airflow usually retain moisture. Keep plants pruned in these areas and try to place structures or decorations where they do not prevent air from moving freely in these problem areas.
Getting a good estimate
Get at least three bids. As with any project, it’s wise to get multiple bids. When you set out to find a contractor, get at least three bids to ensure you’ve done your proper homework. Spend some time researching and don’t just choose from the first five companies that show up on an Internet search. Choose a variety of small and large businesses, take recommendations from family members, neighbors and friends and make sure to get a minimum of three references from each contractor.
Call suppliers to determine material costs. Part of the contractor’s estimate involves the cost of materials. However, most contractors include an outline of the materials cost for a full accounting of the project. Since some contractors can get carried away with marking up prices, you might want to call the suppliers yourself to determine how much the materials cost without the mark-up. This will help you figure out if the contractor’s mark-up is reasonable. Be leery of really low prices. Everyone wants a discount. That can be a good thing, but the price for materials isn’t going to vary wildly enough to make up for a bad job.
Consider the time taken to deliver the estimate. If a contractor tells you that he or she will have the estimate by next Tuesday, but doesn’t actually get it to you until Friday, this is likely a reflection of his or her work on the job as well. If you want to find a contractor who sticks to his or her word, consider whether or not they did everything they said they would in regard to the estimate. Doing so is a good way to evaluate the future of your project and prevent any possible setbacks due to bad work ethic.
Don’t hire a contractor who’ll take the money and run; do your due diligence when hiring. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)
Questions to ask
There’s so much to think about in hiring any contractor, especially for a major project. Be sure to follow these tips to find a contractor who fits best with your own thinking:
• Does your contractor have a headquarters? Homeowners should want their contractors to operate from a permanent place of business. If the contractor is not permanently established, how can you be confident that they will complete the work or be in business tomorrow should there be any problems?
• Is this company insured, and is the coverage adequate? When you find a contractor you think you want to hire, make sure that employer has workers’ compensation and general liability insurance in case of accidents on the job. Ask for copies of these policies and keep them on file.
• Is the company in good standing with a trade association?
• How long has the company been in business? You might want to be leery of a contractor promising to be an overnight success. A long-time, well-established contractor is likely to be a safer bet. Considering the length of time a contractor has been in business is a good indicator of their ability; however, there are many contractors who claim years of experience. Protect yourself by asking for proof of business length.
• What is the contractor’s record on complaint resolution? Make sure to get references, and review past work.
• Does the company provide sufficient details for the project being performed?
• Make sure everything is in writing. The contract is one of the best ways to prevent problems before you begin. The contract protects you and the contractor by including everything you have both agreed upon. Get all promises in writing, and spell out exactly what the contractor will and will not do. When receiving the contract, make sure all concerns are addressed to avoid a miscommunication. Do not accept vague proposals or prices written down on the back of a business card.
• Do your homework. Whether you are in need of a new roof, repairs, maintenance, gutters or skylights, it is important to do your research.
The best way to prevent a bad experience when you’re trying to find a contractor is to know the warning signs. If you take a proactive approach to hiring and researching all potential candidates, your chances of a negative experience should be reduced significantly. Use the following tips to help you spot problematic contractors and resolve any issues if they should arise:
• Avoid door-to-door solicitors and those who only accept cash payments, offer discounts for finding customers or pressure you to make a quick decision.
• Verify the business is licensed to operate in your area, and check to see whether it has a local address. Besides the fact that it makes it easy to reach the contractor, it also shows that the company has established itself and it provides more legitimacy. You should definitely avoid contractors who only want to give you a telephone number.
• Ask the contractor for multiple references from past customers and check them. Visit the job sites if possible and speak to the homeowners. A contractor who doesn’t want to provide any references should be avoided.
What is a contract?
People sign contracts for many services, often without even reading them. Every time you sign a credit card receipt, or check a box agreeing to the terms of service on a website, you are legally binding your name to a contract.
Contracts can be lengthy, especially when it’s a major remodeling job run by a general contractor, and they’re written in legal jargon that is difficult to understand. In most cases, the contract was crafted by a lawyer whose job was to protect the company or person named in the contract, yet most people are quick to sign a contract without even reading it.
Working with contractors
After you hire a contractor and sign a contract, it’s important to understand what to expect during the course of a project. Honest contractors depend on satisfied customers, but sometimes, especially during complex projects, homeowners and contractors need to find ways to work together to solve unexpected