Outdoor living is a summer treat. Making the best of it begins at home on the patio, deck or favorite porch swing. Let’s begin by clearing the way for a spring cleaning.
Every year we get calls from customers who right off the bat want to pressure wash the outdoor living space. Before we recommend pressure washing the area to be washed should be inspected. A pressure washer delivers a great force of water and a hard spray can damage bricks and break out loose mortar joints. It can also damage the fibers in a wood deck.
The outdoor living space should be inspected to see if anything needs to be repaired. The first step is to tidy up any loose or missing mortar, splintered wood, and loose or missing brick. If you are a diy home handyman then make whatever repairs are necessary. For missing brick it may be difficult to find an exact match.
Once the repairs are made then the patio can be washed or cleaned. In our company we use an oxygen-based bleach. This is not the laundry type of chlorine bleach. Oxygen-based bleach is usually a powder or a concentrate and designed to be mixed with water. They’re environmentally safe for outdoor use and won’t harm vegetation and foliage.
Ideally choose a day that is not hot and in direct sunlight. Otherwise you will find the solution dries too quickly before you can scrub the surface. If the solution sits and dries out it may leave a white residue behind. If you have a large area to clean, you can do it in sections. A bucket with the solution and a stiff push broom works well. Work across the patio in sections until complete.
Rinse the solution off with clean water. If you have a pressure washer the rinse can be done with the washer set to low pressure. Use a wide spray tip. Be sure you rinse off all the solution, and allow the patio to dry completely, usually overnight.
The final step is to apply a sealer. The type of sealer you use will depend on the surface. When we are sealing a wood surface such as a deck we use Sherwin-Williams deck cleaner and sealer. For concrete and brick there are many products to choose from. Some may alter the color of the surface. To determine the best product for your surface it is a good idea to take a digital picture of your surface to a brick or concrete supplier. The sales rep can offer a variety of products based on the color, age and condition of your area.
You want to use a sealer that’s specifically formulated for use on exterior masonry and/or concrete surfaces, and you can get them at home centers, paint stores, hardware stores and other retailers.
The application of the sealer will either be a brush, pump style garden sprayer, or a paint roller. If you use a sprayer be careful of overspray on exterior siding and other non-patio surfaces. For decks on upper floors the sealer will drip between the cracks and may damage or discolor any surface below. You should carefully read the instructions on clean-up and warning labels before proceeding.
Apply the sealer on a day when the temperatures are within the recommended range. If it’s too cold, it won’t dry; and if it’s too hot, it’ll dry too fast. You also need to apply it at a time when it has sufficient time to dry before any rain comes — usually within a couple of hours. Complete application and drying instructions are on the can, and will vary between manufacturers.