Does pressure washing damage patios?

November 16, 2023

Pressure washing can be a great way to get things clean after a long time of them being discoloured or kept badly. It's quick and effective, and relatively easy to do. However, pressure washing some materials can cause damage to them, as the high-pressure water breaks parts away or seeps into cracks and cavities.

When it comes to a patio, you want to keep your patio slabs nice and clean so that your garden furniture doesn't look shabby. Pressure washing might be your first thought - but is it safe? With suggestions from the Uniwash Team here is what you need to know.

Is it safe to use pressure washers on your patio slabs?

Most experts will advise against using a pressure washer on your garden patio or any other paving slabs. This is because of the potential pressure washer damage that can happen when the strong stream of high-pressure water affects the integrity of the paving stones and the grout holding them together. This can cause general surface degradation, marks, and damage to the joint sand.

Typically, you'd be better off opting for a more gentle method of washing. This could be soft washing or washing by hand - either is safer for your patio stones than a pressure washer. That being said, pressure washers can be used on patios with enough care and knowledge.

How to safely use a pressure washer on your patio

Should you decide to risk getting the pressure washer out to clean your patio, here's what you need to do to keep your paving stones in one piece and keep yourself away from the costly repairs that a pressure wash can cause.

Step one: sweep the area

Using an outdoor broom, you need to sweep any debris away from your paving stones. You can collect this in a trash bag, or simply sweep it off to the side. Things like leaves, stones, etc will be thrown everywhere by your pressure washer so it is important to remove them so that they don't cause damage.

You will also want to weed during this section. If you need to apply weed killer first, apply it, sweep, then weed.

Step two: gear up

To safely use a pressure washer you need to have safety gear on. That means safety goggles, gloves and waterproof clothing to help to protect you and your clothes from water, flying fragments and chemicals.

Step three: remove everything

Anything that normally lives on your patio (i.e., patio furniture or plants) needs to go elsewhere whilst you clean your patio. Simply pop them out and over to the side to protect them from the pressure washer.

Step four: test a small patch

Using the same detergent you intend to use, find a small unnoticeable patch of concrete or patio and clean a small circle. This will allow you to see if you're going to cause damage, or if the detergent is too strong etc. It's key in making sure that you are able to clean your patio without damaging it.

Step five: set up the pressure washer

Connect your garden hose and pressure washer to a tap, turn it on and pull the trigger. Make sure that water comes through for at least 30 seconds. If it doesn't, you need to inspect the kit to make sure it's working.

Step six: start to clean your patio using your pressure washer

Starting from the top down, in a sweeping motion, clean patio slabs carefully. You will need to have your pressure less than 2,300 psi and at around a 45 degree angle so that you do not damage the paving stones with your power washer.

Step seven: leave the patio to dry

Once you've finished the jet wash, you can disconnect it from the mains and put it aside. The next step involves simply leaving your newly clean patio to dry!

What other methods are there for cleaning a patio?

If you are looking for ways to clean your patio that don't involve using a pressure washer, you're in luck. The simplest way to clean your patio without high pressure washers is to simply do it by hand. You'll still need to weed and sweep, and then simply use hot water, a sponge or broom, and detergent if you feel it is necessary to clean your patio. Fungicidal cleaning solutions and stain removers may be useful for particularly dirty or older slabs.

Alternatively, if you feel that using a tool is the only way to 'properly clean' your patio, you can always opt to soft wash it. This is a process similar to pressure washing, only the latter is higher pressure. Soft washing uses much more detergent and a much lower pressure, meaning that it is unlikely to cause visible damage or lead to water falling through the material. The mixture of lots of warm water and detergent should work to remove the majority of marks, stains and dirt on your patio surface.

Is it less risk to hire a professional?

Those who are determined to use a pressure washer on their patios may want to consider hiring professionals to wash their patio for them. Professionals will know how to use a pressure washer correctly, and will be better at cleaning concrete. They're less likely to use the wrong nozzle, or to use the machine at the wrong angle and cause damage to the surfaces, too.

The only downside is that to hire a professional, you're likely to have to pay a bit more than you would otherwise to clean your patio.


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