Pressure washing offers a great way to quickly blast dirt and grime from exterior surfaces, such as your house, driveways and decks. This process can quickly and efficiently freshen up a surface.

Pressure washing basically uses a water pump and electric or gasoline motor to power a high-pressure hose and sprayer to generate an extremely powerful spray. In some cases, detergents or other chemicals are used to enhance the effect.

Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with “power washing,” but they’re not quite the same thing. They use very similar equipment, but tools that power wash a home heat the water to loosen up dirt or grease.

However, you should take great care with both. Pressure washing and power washing are potent tools that are best used by the hands of professionals.

Pressure washing costs

The cost to pressure wash or power wash a home varies based on size. For a smaller home, you’ll pay around $100 for this job. Larger homes could go as high as $380.

You can use pressure washing on other exterior surfaces such as decks or driveways. You’ll pay between $80 and $200 to pressure wash a driveway. Pressure washing a deck or patio will cost between $250 and $500. Professionals report that you’ll pay about $2 per square foot on a deck.

Hiring a power washing service

When you hire for this work, make sure they’re up to date on EPA regulations regarding runoff water and environmentally safe chemicals. The EPA can hold a property owner responsible if cleaning chemicals are allowed to discharge into the drainage system.

Ask if they have experience with your type of house. Some power washers add chemicals to the spray to clean more effectively. You want to be sure they know which chemicals to use and in what quantity for your specific job. Some companies use biodegradable solutions that won’t damage plants or soil and don’t leave behind a residue. The specialized chemical knowledge is one big reason it’s wise to hire a pro rather than do it yourself.

Verify that they carry their own insurance to cover any damage to your home that may occur.

Most professionals suggest you avoid power washing siding. Siding is particularly vulnerable to damage, and the vents in most siding can allow water to get caught in between the siding and the home, causing wood rot. This is a case where it’s best to rely on a professional who has the expertise to use the right pressure settings and can identify if your siding is easily damaged.

Ask for an itemized bill. This should include the costs of materials, soap, equipment and a breakdown of labor based on time to complete the job and size of the area cleaned. If the company will use water from your home rather than bring their own, make sure you’re not being charged for it.

If your house’s exterior contains lead paint, the work needs to be done by an EPA-certified specialist who can safely wash the exterior without contaminating the nearby area.

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