Monday, December 11, 2023

Driveway cleaning: washers vs brushes

When it comes to keeping your driveway clear of mess and weathering, there’s a lot you can do to address this. Most homeowners’ minds will turn to the universal and ubiquitous solution we’ve all been marketed to with for the past decade or so, the pressure washer. Dan from The Moss Man tells all.

Pressure washers vs brushes

The advantages are many of course, the almost instant results are there for all to see with a pressure wash, but have you thought about the damage it might be doing in the long term? As roof and driveway cleaning specialists, we might have some answers for you.

Water wastage and mess

Pressure washers by their very nature are water intensive and take a lot of effort to really make an impact with, especially when cleaning driveways that are a little larger than normal. A full and thorough job will likely take the average person a few hours, dousing your surfaces with a high volume of water. This is great, as it can take up grime or oil stains that might have attached itself to your paving or bricks for years, but consider the side effects.

Typically a pressure washer throws up all kinds of grit, mud and other messy and unpleasant sludge. Because typically driveways are flat or slightly elevated, there’s a sense of simply moving dirt around when you are trying to make surfaces clean and tidy.

One area that you may have considered complete may become dirty again moments later as debris that you have dislodged simply settles again and becomes part of the mess again. This can lead to even more gallons of water being used to wash away silt-filled water and to make the area seem clear. Moss lichens, mould and algae can also be thrown up and simply make other areas like your garden furniture or your clean car dirty or stained in the process.

Brushing uses a lot less water and once an area has been cleansed, it generally only needs a light hosing afterwards, saving on water bills and the environment in one fell swoop. It also eliminates what can be excessive standing water in other areas of your driveway that can seep into your home or onto gardens.

Driveway cleaning

A pressure washer does an excellent job of cleaning tiles, bricks and driveway materials in general, but there are drawbacks to using this kind of cleaning too. Think about your brickwork, particularly your pointing.

The cement or sand that underpins your patio or driveway is there to maintain leveling, sturdiness and acts as a foundation for everything you have in place. It might not seem much, but having a pressure washer pass over these parts of your driveway, applying the same amount of pressure to those more delicate areas as it does to the grime and dirt is bound to have an effect over time.

Any disturbed sand beneath your driveway will cause imperfections over time and can lead to loose bricks, cracked slabs and an uneven surface. By brushing these with a driveway cleaner instead, you avoid this kind of issue altogether. Brushing just the areas that need cleaning and only touching the joins in between on the surface and with a sideways rather than vertical force means you get more protection and a great job finish.

Finishing is also an issue, there are instances of ‘striping’ being left behind on jobs completed with power washers. The cleaning is only as effective as where the user points it with the stream from the gun. This means you can be left cleaning in narrow lines and missing essential areas due to the less powerful flow being used.

Power washing can also work to blast away surface sediment. This essential element of your patio creates a porous surface area where new problems may start as dirt is attracted to the newly opened pores in the freshly cleaned stone.

Jet washing has its place, but using a patio cleaner that’s designed for the job in hand can mean cleaning and sealing are mutually protected.

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