Pressure washing is the process of using water (with or without additives) under high pressure to clean mold, grime, dust, mud, oil, or dirt from surfaces such as siding, sidewalks, fences, decks, patios, and driveways. Pressure washing is particularly useful for driveways as it is an efficient and fast way to clean the surface. Maintaining the surface of your driveway is very important in home maintenance in order to increase its longevity and appearance. The average cost to pressure wash driveway ranges from $180-$240 or $0.30-$0.40 per sq.ft., with the average homeowner spending around $210 to pressure wash a 600 sq.ft. driveway.
Pressure Wash a Driveway Cost
|Driveway pressure washing costs|
|National average cost||$210|
|Average range||$180 – $240|
Cost To Pressure Wash Driveway
The process of pressure washing differs between different types of surfaces. There are many different types of driveways and therefore all require a different process.
- Asphalt: For asphalt surfaces, the less pressure the better. A pre-pressure wash detergent can be applied to the surface and allowed to sit prior to pressure washing. Most companies use a ball valve with a swivel to allow for ideal pressure for rinsing rather than too much pressure from a gun.
- Concrete: Concrete driveways are very porous and therefore require a high amount of pressure to remove the grime. First, a cleaning solvent is used on the surface, then the pressure washer is used, and then a sealant is applied.
- Brick: The process of pressure washing a brick driveway is identical to that of a concrete driveway. First, the brick should be soaked with water, followed by a detergent, and then a high pressure (25 degree) nozzle used to clean the dirt and grime off the surface. A sealant can be used at the end to protect the brick.
- Gravel: For gravel driveways, a pressure washer can be used at either a low pressure closer to the surface or a stronger pressure held away from the surface. Pressure washers will help to remove mold, mildew, and any weeds growing in the gravel. It is important not to spray too close at a high pressure, which would shift the gravel.
The chart below illustrates the differences in pressure washing asphalt, concrete, brick, and gravel surfaces as well as their cost.
|Type of ground||Price (average cost for a 600 sq.ft. driveway)|
Pressure Washing Prices Per Hour
The pricing structure for pressure washing varies between companies. While some may charge per sq.ft. or per hour, others may charge a flat fee. When charging per hour, most companies charge between$50-$150 per hour. A 600 sq.ft. driveway will take about 3 hours to pressure wash.
The preparation of the surface begins with cleaning away any loose debris from the surface using a broom. If there are any stains on the surface, a degreaser can be sprayed onto the surface and scrubbed using a stiff brush.
Next, a detergent will be applied using the tip designated for washing by attaching a garden hose and detergent tube directly to the pressure washer. Once the pressure washer is turned on, it will begin to spray a stream of water and detergent onto the surface. The detergent is left to sit on the surface for approximately 5 minutes.
Once the 5 minutes is up, the pressure washer tip labeled soap will be changed to a very narrow tip (often 25 degrees). A very high-pressure stream of water is used to clean a driveway.
Once the driveway is completely dry, it is time to apply a sealant. This step is not always necessary, but it helps keep the driveway in good shape. Once the sealant is applied, the driveway should be left for 24 hours before walking/parking on it.
Pressure Washing Prices Per Square Foot
The average cost to pressure wash a driveway is $0.30-$0.40 per sq.ft. Below is a table illustrating the cost to pressure wash a driveway of different sizes. Typically the larger the driveway, the more it will cost to pressure wash it. However, in some cases, professional companies will charge a minimum fee of around $50-$80 per project for smaller driveways.
|Size of the driveway||Average cost|
Pressure Washing vs. Power Washing
Pressure washing and power washing are very similar, but with one difference: heat. Pressure washing uses a strong stream of cold water to clean surfaces, whereas power washing also has the added element of using hot water.
Power washing uses hot water to remove dirt, mold, grime, fungus, and mildew from outdoor surfaces. It also can help to remove grease stains from the driveway and kill weeds with its high temperature and water pressure.
Pressure washing uses high-pressure water to clean fences, sidewalks, decks, driveways, patios, etc. Pressure washing relies heavily on the use of high water pressure to clean. The regular temperature water does a great job at removing dirt, but does not always perform as well against dirt, mold, grime, fungus, and mildew. Pressure washing tends to take longer than power washing.
Power washing may cost slightly more than pressure washing, with power washing averaging $0.40-$0.80 per sq. ft. and pressure washing $0.30-$0.40 per sq.ft.
Additional Pressure Washing Prices
Pressure washing can also be done to many other areas of your home to help keep them clean and in good shape. Most companies offer bundle deals for having multiple areas of the home cleaned at once; it might be a good opportunity to have many areas done at the same time as the driveway so you can avoid paying extra later on.
Pressure Washing Gutters Cost
Maintaining clean gutters is an important part of home maintenance. Gutters can easily clog and should be cleared of debris regularly. Using a pressure washer to clean your gutters can be a lot quicker and provide you with better results. The average cost to pressure wash gutters is approximately $60-$150 per project or $0.55-$1.50 per linear foot .
Cost To Pressure Wash a Deck
Pressure washing is a great way to revive a deck and strip the wood of dirt and grime. Typically, decks are pressure washed in preparation for painting or restaining. The average cost to pressure wash a deck ranges from $135-$250 per deck, approximately $0.40 per sq.ft. If you would like to include the handrails and stairs in the project, you can expect to pay an extra $70 per staircase and $2-3 per linear foot for the handrails .
Fence Pressure Washing Cost
Pressure washing will help to rejuvenate the look of your existing fence by removing old and faded stains from the woodwork. Pressure washing will also prepare the fence for the administration of a fresh coat of sealant or paint. The average cost to pressure wash a fence averages between $150 and $300 per project or $0.35-$0.50 per sq.ft.
Pressure Wash Roof Cost
Over time, your roof will start to develop moss and mold on the shingles that will have to be removed in order to prevent further damage. Pressure washing your roof will help to remove this buildup and will cost an average of $180-$275 per project. The type of roof can have an impact on the cost, with cedar roofs costing approximately $0.60-$0.95 per sq.ft., and composite roofs 2 $0.15-$0.35 per sq.ft. There may also be an additional cost of $0.15 per sq.ft. if your roof has a steep pitch .
Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding Rates
Cleaning your home’s siding can help to maintain its beauty and appearance over time. When it comes to maintaining or restoring that like-new look, a pressure washer can be a very good tool to have around. Pressure washing your siding can help to eliminate any dirt, grime, and mold that has developed over time. The average cost to pressure wash your home’s siding ranges from $95-$275 per project or $0.35-$0.45 per sq.ft., depending on the size of your home.
Pressure Washing Concrete Patio Cost
Pressure washing your patio is a great way to remove oil stains, grease, algae, or mold that cannot be fully removed by other methods. Pressure washing a patio can cost approximately $120-$250 per project or $0.30-$0.45 per sq.ft., depending on the size of the patio.
Pros and Cons of Pressure Washing a Driveway
The chart below illustrates the pros and cons of pressure washing a driveway.
|Removes fungus, dust, grease, etc. from the surface of the driveway to retain its consistencyIncreases the life of the driveway and discourages mold from growing on the surfaceFast and efficient cleaningRemoves debris from the cracks and gaps||Can degrade a concrete surfaceCan cause serious damage or bodily harm if in the hands of an inexperienced user|
Cost Factors of Pressure Washing a Driveway
There are different cost factors that should be taken into account, such as the material of the driveway, the size, and the shape.
The size of the driveway to be cleaned is one of the largest contributors to the cost when it comes to pressure washing. Most companies charge a base fee for a certain size and an additional cost to any square footage beyond that range.
In addition to the size, the shape of the driveway also affects the overall cost of the project. You can expect to pay a bit more for driveways that are circular in shape compared to a single-car driveway. The shape of the driveway can impact the difficulty of the job.
Lastly, the materials needed for the job can impact the cost. Materials such as surface repair products, fuel emissions solvents, and weed, mold, and/or mildew removers may be necessary to get the job done. This can add upwards of $40 to the total cost of the project.
Pressure Washing Hazards
People often tend to think that pressure washing is an easy DIY task, but they fail to recognize the potential risks and hazards involved. One of the biggest incidents is property damage. Many pressure washers have settings specific to the surface you are working on. If you use too powerful of a spray, there is the risk that you can strip away the finish and destroy your property. Another potential hazard is personal injury. Failing to use the proper protective equipment, such as footwear, glasses, and long pants, can put you at risk for broken bones or even going blind.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Sealing the Driveway
Driveway sealer can help to boost the curb appeal of your home as well as extend the life of your driveway by protecting it from the elements, spills, leaks, and cracks. Driveway sealing costs approximately $90-$120 for driveways up to 480 sq.ft., and $180-$250 for driveways 1,000 sq.ft. plus in size.
Window cleaning can be easy with the help of a pressure washer. The wand allows you to reach up to second-story windows without the use of a ladder. Professionals will charge approximately $185-$400 per project to pressure wash windows, all depending on the number of windows and level of difficulty.
Additional Considerations and Costs
Maintaining a driveway can help to enhance its appearance and preserve it over time. How often you need to perform heavier-duty maintenance tasks really all depends on weather exposure and the amount of vehicle traffic. Removing stains as soon as possible and avoiding using materials that might scrape or scratch the surface are critical to enhancing your driveway’s lifespan.
While you do have the option of purchasing or renting a high-powered pressure washer at many local home improvement stores, there are many pros and cons to completing this as a DIY project vs. hiring a professional pressure washing service. Although it may be cheaper to rent/buy the machine itself, the professionals have a greater knowledge of the job and can prevent many issues that are likely to arise from inexperience. A few issues with DIY is that you have to be aware of the different PSI (pressure levels) for different surfaces. Doing it yourself may result in damage to the surface. Secondly, you may not be aware of which areas to avoid pressure washing. Thirdly, the nozzles–pressure washers come with several different nozzles to choose from depending on the job. You could damage a surface if you select the wrong nozzle. Lastly, it is a huge safety concern. Many people are injured using pressure washers incorrectly. Proper protective clothing such as boots, gloves, and eyewear must be used.
If you feel comfortable and opt to do it yourself, there are many kits that are available for purchase online to get the job done right and video tutorials outlining the steps.
There are many different types of pressure washers for home use:
Cold Water Pressure Washers are the most commonly used and the most affordable. They work great for cleaning off your siding, deck, and other structures.
Hot Water Power Washers are great for use on oil, grease, and grime. They use really hot water and it makes it easier to clean things.
Electric Pressure Washers are the most common type that you will see at people’s homes. They are lightweight and very convenient to use and are great for any normal home pressure washing projects.
Gas-Powered Pressure Washers are very powerful washers and help get big jobs done quickly and effectively. Unlike electric power washers, gas power washers do not need to be plugged in so you can bring it wherever you want.
Make sure to get a free price quote from more than one company before choosing the one you want to hire for the project. This is extremely important to make sure that you are getting a fair price for the scope of work. It is also important to make sure that they follow EPA regulations and are insured with the appropriate
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers have come a long way. Over the last ten years the quality has increased as prices have become more affordable. The cleaning ability of a pressure washer is great, removing dirt, grime, and algae quickly, efficiently and effectively. A pressure washer can greatly increase your ability to maintain and clean your property and equipment giving it greater value. If your time is valuable, a pressure washer could be a good investment, but if you get the wrong machine, you will be frustrated and you could waste a lot of time and money.
The goal of this buying guide is to help you understand what a pressure washer does and what you need to look for when deciding to purchase one. If you’re ready to start shopping, check out the pressure washers at kmstools.com. Or keep reading to learn more about the following:
- How a Pressure Washer Works
- Pressure Washer Pumps
- Direct Drive or Belt Drive
- Gas or Electric
- Pressure Washer Accessories
- Choosing the Right Pressure Washer
How a Pressure Washer Works
A pressure washer is actually a fairly simple piece of equipment. A motor or engine turns a pump, pushing water through an orifice (tip). The water accelerates as it goes through the small hole, much like a river flows faster in a narrow gorge, and that fast-moving water is very useful for blasting dirt and grime. The math is quite simple. Each time the pump turns over, a specific volume of water is pushed through the tip. The more water you push through the tip, the more pressure is developed, and therefore more power is required. The higher the pressure, the faster the water moves, and the harder it hits the dirt, removing it from the surface you want to clean.
What to Consider
The two most important considerations when buying a pressure washer are size, which determines how long it takes to do the job or how many jobs you can do in a day; and life expectancy, which determines how many hours of work you can do per dollar spent during the life of the machine.
Here are some basic ratings:
Horse Power (HP)
This is how much power the engine or motor produces. This rating is important because it directly relates to how much pressure and volume the pump can produce.
Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)
The pressure generated by a pressure washer is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. Pressure contributes to the cleaning force.
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
The water volume produced by a pressure washer is measured in gallons per minute or GPM. Volume also contributes to the cleaning force.
Cleaning Power Units (CPU)
Cleaning Power Units quantifies a pressure washer’s cleaning ability. To determine CPU, multiply GPM x PSI. The greater the CPU, the greater the ability the machine has for cleaning deeply and effectively.
Often consumers are so focused on the PSI rating of the machine, they do not consider the CPU. For example, a pressure washer may have a rating of 2,800 PSI and 2 GPM, giving it a CPU of 5,600. Another pressure washer is rated for 2,400 PSI and 4 GPM. That’s a CPU rating of 9,600. In this example the lower PSI machine has more than 40% greater cleaning power than the higher PSI machine. The result is that the 2,400 PSI machine will be able to clean an area 40% faster than the 2,800 PSI machine.
Now consider this: A garden hose typically provides 6 GPM at 10 PSI giving it 60 CPU. With a standard spray nozzle attached to the garden hose you can get around 5 GPM at about 40 PSI generating 200 CPU. We all have seen the difference of how much more effective a simple spray nozzle is at cleaning dirt off surfaces. Trying to clean your driveway with your garden hose spray nozzle generating 200 CPU is fairly ineffective. However, if we take a mid-range pressure washer rated at 2.0 GPM and 2,500 PSI (5,000 CPU), the CPU rating represents a staggering 25 times increase over a typical garden hose spray nozzle.
A commercial pressure washer rated at 4 GPM and 4,000 PSI is an incredible 16,000 CPU. It is not difficult to see the difference in efficiency. However, this is all true within a range. If you have extremely high pressure and low volume, you can cut steel or concrete (water jet cutter), and if you have extremely high volume and low pressure, you have a river. Neither of these would be very good for cleaning your house or driveway.
Pressure Washer Pumps
This is the part of the pressure washer that receives water from your hose, and pumps it through a tip at high pressure. There are several common types of pumps that you will see in commercial and home-owner type machines. All pressure washer pumps have pistons and valves similar to a gas engine or an air compressor. On some pumps the pistons are driven by a plate on an angle (wobble plate), and in other cases the pistons are driven by a crankshaft. Crankshaft driven pumps are generally built better and will last longer.
Pressure washer pumps are equipped with bypass valves, so that when you let go of the trigger, or when the tip gets plugged, the water will bypass and go back to the inlet side of the pump. If left in this mode for longer than the manufacturer recommends, the water will get hot and cause damage to the pump. On a gas-powered pressure washer, the pump includes a thermal relief valve that dumps hot water into the bypass loop. Most bypass valves are adjustable so you can dial down the pressure when cleaning sensitive materials
Low-cost pressure washers have pumps with very low life expectancies—some as low as 60 – 100 hours. When buying a pressure washer, make sure you find out the life expectancy of the pump. If the information is unavailable, stay clear because it is very likely that the manufacturer does not want you to know how low it is.
Another very important factor to consider is parts availability. KMS Tools was a warranty/service centre for some low end brands, however lack of parts availability and unreliability of these machines were such a problem that we decided to no longer provide this service.
Before buying your machine, ask where you can get parts if you need them. KMS is often referred to by other retailers as a source for parts and repairs for numerous brands that are pretty much disposable. If you are buying a new machine for $200.00 or less, expect it to be a disposable machine that might last you only one season, and be prepared to spend a lot of time to get the job done.
Direct Drive or Belt Drive
The drive describes how the motor is connected to the pump. Direct-drive systems are most common. The pump is bolted directly to the motor or engine with a shaft coupler. Compared to a belt-drive system, direct drive requires fewer parts and space, resulting in a more compact design. Direct drive is also considerably more economical than an equivalently rated belt-drive machine.
Belt-drive systems are typically seen on industrial platforms. The pump on a belt-drive unit turns at a much slower speed. The belt absorbs vibration that would wear out a unit faster. Since the pump turns at a lower speed all the pistons and valves in the pump are larger. All this adds up to a cooler running machine that will last considerably longer than an equivalent direct drive version. However, there is slightly more maintenance and considerably more dollars involved (10 – 30% more). If you are using your pressure washer on the job, then you want to consider buying a belt-drive machine. However, an equivalent direct-drive machine will have the same performance for a lot less money.
Gas Engine or Electric Motor
On a pressure washer, the engine or motor powers the pump. The more powerful the engine or motor (rated in HP), the greater the PSI and GPM the pump produces. Gas engines are typically designed to last between 300 and 3,000 hours. The motors on electric pressure washers usually last longer than the pumps.
Electric motors are very low maintenance and fairly quiet. There is also no exhaust so they can be operated indoors or in poorly ventilated areas. A typical electric pressure washer that is 115 Volt and 15 Amps will be fairly light duty because it is built for the low-price market. The motor is not strong enough to generate much pressure or volume. While electric pressure washers are compact and usually portable, most jobs take longer with a light-duty electric pressure washer.
HP is rated differently on electric motors compared to gas engines. A typical low-price electric pressure washer is rated around 1 to 1-1/2 HP and would be equivalent to a 3 HP gas pressure washer. (Electric motor HP has to be doubled to equal gas engine HP.)
Heavy-duty electric pressure washers are available for applications where power is available and portability isn’t a factor, and exhaust from a gas engine would be a problem.
Gas pressure washers are larger and heavier and mounted on a cart with wheels. Some are better balanced and easier to maneuver. Gas engines can produce more power and are a lot more mobile as they do not need to be plugged in to an electric power source. Since gas engines can be more powerful, the pump can generate considerably more PSI and GPM so that they can clean faster and deeper than any 115 Volt rated electric pressure washer could. However they do take a little more maintenance and cost more to operate. They must be used in well-ventilated areas because of the emission of carbon-monoxide fumes.
Pressure Washer Accessories
Without accessories, your pressure washer is fairly useless. It would be like having a drill without any drill bits.
Pressure Washer Hoses
You probably want a 50 ft length hose. If you go shorter, you will have to keep moving your machine. Make sure you get a quality hose with the proper PSI rating to match your machine. A poor quality hose will break down faster, is more susceptible to leaks and kinks, and will usually be less flexible and harder to work with.
Pressure Washer Wands and Tips
The wand includes a handle with a trigger valve, and different lengths and angles of wands are available for different applications. You can change the spray pattern by changing the tip at the end of the wand. Most pressure washers come with a selection of tips—from a very narrow spray to generate higher force at the tip for deeper cleaning to a wider spray that has less force but covers more area. Most tip sets also include a low pressure tip for applying cleaning solutions.
In addition to tips, other, very useful attachments are available:
A dirt blaster or rotary nozzle attaches to the end of your wand. It has a very narrow spray that spins in a circular motion very rapidly. Dirt blasters are effective because they can quickly clean hard surfaces very well and, when used properly, avoids the tiger striping effect on your driveway that happens with conventional spray tips.
For cleaning out-of-reach areas, look for an extension wand that’s adjustable up to 24 feet in some cases. Extension and telescoping wands are beneficial if you need to reach up high. They can save you from trying to pressure wash while standing on a ladder.
A gutter cleaner is a simple hooked extension that affixes to the end of your wand. It lets you get into your gutters to clean them out.
A Whirl-A-Way is an accessory that looks a little like a lawn mower and has two rotating nozzles inside. They are available in sizes from 12” to 24” and excel at cleaning large flat areas.
Hot Water Pressure Washers
Hot water pressure washers are commercial machines with built-in water heaters. The cleaning effect of the machines is considerably better than a cold water machine with comparable PSI and GPM because hot water simply cleans more effectively than cold water. Hot water pressure washers break down and remove dirt and grime faster than cold water pressure washers, and often eliminate the need for expensive chemicals. Do not feed hot water into a normal cold water pressure washer pump. The heat will damage seals and o-rings.
Detergents can greatly increase the speed of cleaning and help remove tough stains. Most pressure washers come equipped with a venturi tube that will draw in the detergent from a bottle or pail and add it to the water stream. The detergent should be first applied with a low pressure spray, given some time to do its work to break down the dirt, and then washed off with a normal high pressure spray.
Choosing the Right Pressure Washer
When it comes right down to it, you need to buy a pressure washer that fits your application. There are many different types of pressure washers—from very low-end machines to extremely powerful industrial machines. Before you buy a machine you need to sit down and ask yourself these questions:
- “How will I use a pressure washer?”
- “How often will I use a pressure washer?”
If you are a home owner, you will probably use a pressure washer less than 50 hours per year. In this case getting a machine rated for 500 hours will last you up to 10 years if properly maintained. However, if you are using it on the job, you will want something rated for 2,000 hours or more. If time is important to you, buy as big a pressure washer as you can justify. A 13 HP gas pressure washer will clean your driveway about 10 times faster than a small electric unit. It will also last longer because it doesn’t have to run nearly as long to do the job. Finally, plan in advance what attachments you will want in the future and make sure that the pressure washer you buy has enough power to support them.