DIY: Pressure Washing!

By Johnna Rizzo      

Decks and siding can start to look dismal in the midday summer sun, where every speck of dirt is on radiant display. All that glint and glare spells out a need for a good soaking in hard to reach nooks and crannies, and pressure washing is the quick and powerful way to get gleaming. And guess what—you can DIY.

Actually, as far as curb work goes, pressure washing ranks high up in terms of fun, as close to crashing ocean waves as you’ll encounter this close to concrete. But where’s the line between safe and savvy? In other words, should you put loved ones to work or is it time to call in the pros? When used with common sense, washers are completely safe for your average backyard outdoorsman. Most are run by gas (though electric versions are also available), so if you are able to operate a lawnmower sans incident and can remember the mantra to never, ever point the thing at a person, you are likely good to go.

But this is no project for ninnies—it involves hours of hard work, and some strong arms, since these babies both pack a kickback and need consist movement so that you don’t create gauges or rips in your housing materials.

Pressure washing is a game where honesty counts, and factors into cost. A 1500 PSI unit will run you about $300, and are pretty reliable for those who are willing to log in the hours consistently to keep up appearances, but won’t make a dent in dirt that’s been building up for eons (Raise your hands if guilty, we’re not looking…). A 3000 model is what’s really going to get the grime gone, especially on your long-neglected eaves, but that level of water workhorse is going to set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of $600. If you want to rent rather than buy, hit the home improvement store. Home Depot’s tool rental department will rent a 2000 PSI pressure washer for around $50 for four hours (prices vary by location).

Not looking to DIY on this one? Professional service prices vary across the US, because environmental factors make a large difference. But to get an idea, an average two-car garage house with driveway, front and back patio would run about $185 with Acme Powerwash in Scottsdale, AZ. And this isn’t a one-shot deal. "You should powerwash at least twice a year—once before Christmas and the holidays, and another around July (monsoon season in Phoenix)," advises owner Kenneth Marciano.

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