Sunday afternoons and my patio are made for each other. I love enjoying a day out on the patio reading my novel, relaxing with my kids and soaking in the polluted weather around. My patio is brick by choice as I feel it gives the house a classic and rich look. Unfortunately, brick has a tendency to accumulate moss, dirt and grime. Worst of all, it discolors quickly if one leaves the patio unclean for too long. My choice of cleaning power tool for brick is, you guessed it, a pressure washer.
What You Will Need
Quite obviously you need a pressure washer, something that can generate over 2000 PSI but not more than 3000 PSI. Then you need a strong detergent, something that won’t bleach but only clean. Problem with brick is that bleach can clean it well but will also discolor the red color quickly.
You have to start by first soaking the entire surface of the walkway or patio with regular water. To do this use a low pressure nozzle and water the length and breadth of the walkway. Then rinse the surface well before washing it so that it creates a nice protective layer between the brick and detergent. This is necessary as you do not want detergent getting inside the porous brick.
Once the brick surface is wet, you can start washing it. Use a lot of detergent (mild or moderate) and lots of low pressure water. This helps in getting detergent into mold and dirt loosening the particles. Also take care not to use high pressure spray as it can force detergent deep into the brick leaving ugly stain marks on the surface. The best approach therefore is to work section by section.
Applying The Detergent
Ideally you should apply the detergent after rinsing the surface once and then let it sit for at least 5 to 10 minutes. If you see any area drying up then apply water as necessary. This is vital as detergent needs water to penetrate into dirt. Otherwise it simply dries up and leaves a dirty stain of its own.
Rinsing The Surface
To remove the detergent, perform a basic rinse. This is a preliminary rinse just to remove the detergent. Once you have removed the detergent you can do a thorough cleaning. Start by covering 2 or 3 rows of brick together and migrate slowly to all areas as you apply the detergent and let it settle in. For deeply stained regions you may have to use more than one coat of detergent and multiple rinse cycles.
As the bricks dry, you will find white powdery residue covering some of the areas. This is called efflorescence and it is nothing to be alarmed about. All you need is an efflorescence remover to treat the residue. But this process needs to be performed by hand with a brush as a pressure washer only makes things worse.
All you have to do after this is to let the patio dry out.