How To Pressure Wash Brick Properly

Brick has always been a popular choice in construction.  It’s beautiful and has a classic look that appears timeless.  However, to maintain such an appearance, one needs to properly clean it.  

From brick buildings to brick pavers, in time dirt and grime build up from exposure to the elements.  Mold, mildew, and algae might also grow on brick depending on the setting and environment.

If you have anything that’s brick on the exterior of your home, you need to set aside time to clean it.  Most people will clean brick with a scrub and some soap. It’s tedious work that could take hours and maybe even days.  Do you really have the time for that kind of project?

There’s an easier and faster way to clean brick and that’s to pressure wash it.  The combination of water, pressure, and detergent will effectively remove all the gunk and whatever buildup accumulates on brick.  Restore brick walls, pavers, chimneys, patios and decks to their original elegant charm in short time.

Pressure washing brick is almost as straightforward as it sounds, but there are definitely some things you should keep in mind in order to complete the task properly.  If you’re not careful, you can damage brick with a pressure washer if the water pressure is set too high. I’ll share with you the general steps you need to take when pressure washing brick, as well as bring to light tips that will help the process be smoother.

Steps For Pressure Washing Brick

Step 1:

Patch holes or cracks in any brick that you find.  Brick ages when it’s exposed to the elements, and so in time will deteriorate or break.  You can’t stop this from happening. What you don’t want is water getting deep into the brick or into the wall behind it, whether it be from the rain or from the pressure washer.  Mold can grow in these dark areas. So take care of this issue first and fix the damaged brick or even the mortar.

Step 2:

Wait a week for the fixes to the brick and mortar to dry.

Step 3:

Clear away or cover nearby plants and vegetation.  Close all doors and windows. Set aside outdoor furniture to an appropriate distance so you have some clearance to move around with the pressure washer.

Step 4:

Wet the brick surface with a hose or a pressure washer that has a low pressure nozzle attached.  A black or white color-coded pressure washer nozzle will suffice. You want the brick saturated just enough so that the detergent that will be applied does not soak into the porous material that brick is made out of.

Step 5:

Set the pressure washer to 2000 PSI or less, and use a pressure washer nozzle with a 40-degree fan tip.  Most manufacturers have this nozzle color-coded with white.

Step 6:

Test the pressure produced by the pressure washer spray on a small and inconspicuous area of the brick surface.  Do this to make sure that the pressure isn’t too high that it damages the break. Some good suggestions could be behind a bush or freestanding structure such has a shed.  If all is good, continue with the selected pressure setting and nozzle.

Step 7:

Add detergent to the pressure washer.  There are multi-purpose cleaning solutions designed for pressure washers.  You can check to see if the surfaces cleaned include brick and mortar materials.

Step 8:

Begin spraying the brick surface.  Stand about a foot away from the spot you are cleaning.  If you’re pressure washing a brick wall, be sure to start from the bottom and work your way up to prevent streaking.  Work with small sections, moving the pressure washer wand left and right while creating horizontal strokes.

Similarly, follow the same back and forth spray pattern for brick pavers, walkways and driveways, or anything that’s flat.  You can make several passes if there are areas that are extremely dirty. Or you can use a rotary nozzle or scrubber for deep stains.  

Be sure to rewet any sections that become dry.  A key to pressure washing brick is low pressure and lots of detergent soap.  You’ll want to let the cleaning solution get into the porous brick and mortar material, but you don’t want to use too much pressure rinsing or else the detergent will get too deep into the same porous material.

Step 9:

Wait 5-10 minutes after washing for the detergent to do its job.

Step 10:

Rinse detergent off of the brick surface.  For brick walls, start from the top and work your way to the bottom, using strokes that go back and forth horizontally.

Step 11:

Wait for the brick to dry.

Step 12:

Check for efflorescence.  This is a white powdery substance that appears after cleaning masonry, such as brick, stone, concrete, and mortar.  What happens is when the masonry substrates get wet and then dry out from evaporation, salt deposits rise to the surface.  You’ll need to scrub these salt deposits away. Rewetting the brick surface won’t help. Or you can apply a chemical/acidic efflorescence remover and then rinse off with a regular garden hose.

What Nozzles To Use For Pressure Washing Brick?

Pressure washer nozzles are color-coded to make it easier to spot and differentiate their functions.  For brick surfaces I recommend using only the black and white nozzles. You don’t need to worry about all the other colored nozzles for this project

Like I mentioned earlier, start off with the black nozzle, which puts out low water pressure and has a wide 65-degree fan spray.  The wide spray and the large nozzle opening helps reduce the pressure build up, as opposed to a nozzle that has a narrow spray and small opening, which contributes to a focused and powerfully concentrated spray.  Black nozzles are often used for soaping because of the coverage they provide.

A white nozzle is also a suitable selection, especially for the rinsing part of the process.  With an approximately 40-degree fan spray and smaller nozzle opening, there’s less coverage and more pressure coming out.  That’s perfect for getting the soap detergent out.

Check the price of these nozzles on Amazon.

What PSI Needed For Pressure Washing Brick?

PSI is the acronym for pounds per square inch.  The higher the PSI the more force the water will be projected out from the pressure washer.

Brick and mortar can be damaged if a pressure washer’s PSI is too high.  A good garden hose might put out a PSI between 40 and 80. Most household pressure washing projects require no more than 2000 PSI, which a lot of consumer grade electric pressure washers can do.

There are websites and YouTube videos that have people using 3000 PSI pressure washers on brick.  I think this is quite excessive. Why risk damaging your brick surface when 1000 PSI will suffice?  Plus, are you really going to shell out more money for the ability to go up past 3000 PSI when you don’t really need it?  It’s going to cost you and you’re probably going to have to go with a gas powered pressure washer to get up to a PSI that high.  Also, there’s more maintenance for a gas powered pressure washer.

How Often Should I Pressure Wash Brick?

The answer to this question really depends.  If I were to answer this question, I would say in general once a year.  You’ll be able to tell when your brick surfaces need a good cleaning. They’ll look different.  Put a finger to them and you’ll notice a difference.

For those living in climates where the weather can be cold and harsh, especially during the winter time, you might want to consider pressure washing your brick surfaces twice, once before the snow comes and once after.

If you live in warmer climates, mold and mildew can build up, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for these growths.  Maybe shoot once a year after the storms have passed. Like in Florida, wind from storms may pick up dirt and leaves and throw them against your brick surfaces.

Whatever the time you decide to pressure wash your home exterior, consider doing it when the weather is sunny and the temperature is favorable to cleaning outdoors.

Summary

Pressure washers can be a great solution for those looking to clean brick surfaces.  They’ll save you time and money if you use them properly. Use pressure washers to get rid of dirty and unclean build up that has tarnished your beloved brick home, wall, walkway and patio.  It’ll also remove any health hazards from mold and mildew that builds up. You won’t regret the choice of going with a pressure washer.

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