If you’re lucky enough to own a brick home, you know how great classic design and colorful brickwork is. The different shades and quality of brick make a home unique and beautiful.
Brick homes have always been in high demand, and they continue to be a staple of home building and development projects around the country. America’s love for brick has spurred entire industries dedicated to reclaiming and refinishing old brick.
Now home builders and buyers can own a piece of history. Companies sell bricks reclaimed from Chicago and other historical cities around the country.
Brick homes and brick buildings are very durable. However, over the years, dirt and grime can darken a brick exterior. That’s fine if you like the look of aging brick, but sometimes it’s great to clean off your brick and restore it to its original color.
To properly clean brick and reveal it’s brighter colors, you’re going to need a pressure washer. More specifically, you’ll need a pressure washer with the right psi to get the job done. Psi refers to the strength of a pressure washer.
If the psi is too low, it won’t be strong enough to power off the coat of grime that’s darkening your brickwork. On the other hand, if the psi is too high, it could damage your brick and cause erosion.
Getting the psi right isn’t hard but takes attention to detail and a basic understanding of pressure washers.
The Ideal Pressure Washer PSI for Brick – Pressure Washer Basics
Brick and concrete are preferred exterior surfaces because they are durable and last a long time. However, low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance. A pressure washer is required to keep your brick looking fantastic. Pressure washers can be purchased at a home improvement store or they can be rented for temporary use.
When you’re using a pressure washer to clean brick, you need to make sure you have an appropriate nozzle attached to the head of the washer. There are a lot of different pressure washer nozzle tips designed for different jobs. For brick, choose the widest nozzle possible.
You want the water stream to spread well enough to cover a decent area. If the water stream is too focused, it will hit the brick too strongly and damage your house.
Hot or Cold Pressure Washer?
Another thing you have to think about is whether to use a hot or cold pressure washer. Cold pressure washers are much more common. They’re less expensive and generally easy to use. They’re effective at getting the most job done, so most people are very happy using them.
Hot pressure washers, however, are great for specific jobs where there is grease or strong grime buildup on brick surfaces. With a hot water pressure washer on the right psi setting for brick, it can melt and wash away stubborn grease or stains.
You can also use hot pressure washers all year in cold climates. When it’s freezing outside, cold pressure washers are not an option.
What’s the Best PSI for Washing Brick?
For brick, you’ll want a pressure washer that works at a range of 500-2000 psi. Psi stands for pounds per square inch. At the right psi, the water stream is strong enough to remove algae, dirt, and color shadowing from your brickwork without damaging the brick.
Most professional hard surface cleaners like the ranged pressure washers because they can adjust strength gradually to find the appropriate pressure. For very difficult jobs, you can find industrial pressure washers that can get up to 3000 psi.
There’s no sense using a very strong psi when a lower setting will work. You may end up hurting the brick instead of only cleaning it. The water pressure needs to be high enough to get into the pores of the brick and drive out any dirt lingering inside.
You’ll end up with a brighter shade of brick that will make your house or building look brand new again. With the right settings, your bricks will be just as bright as the day you bought them.
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
GPM refers to how much water is flowing through the pressure washer. The psi does a great job breaking up dirt and grime on brick surfaces. The GPM though is responsible for feeding enough water through the washer to wash the debris away.
You’ll want something in the 3 GPM range to get enough water flow for brick cleaning. GPM will also help drive dirt away from the brick and control the flow of runoff while you’re cleaning.
The Right Pressure Washer Technique
The power at which pressure washers shoot water out can make them dangerous. You need to operate them correctly to avoid damaging your brick. It’s also possible to get injured if you’re careless. With the right psi setting for brick and the proper technique, though, you can get your brick cleaned quickly and looking great.
As you start, hold the nozzle around 12 inches from the brick surface. Turn the water on and use slow, straight sweeping motions to clean. Moving around randomly or too quickly can cause streaking in your bricks that are hard or impossible to get rid of. Do your best to direct the dirty runoff water away from the brick so it doesn’t make its way back into the porous surface.
You can repeat the cleaning multiple times. Keep using the pressure washer as long as the color of the brick keeps getting lighter. Once no more dirt or grime is coming off, then your work is done. Use a broom to sweep the area clean.
When Pressure Washing Large Areas
Sometimes, you’ll need to clean a large brick surface. Using the typical pressure washer narrow nozzle will take a lot of time. With a rotating sweeping attachment, though, you can cover larger areas much faster. It will help you avoid fatigue from holding up the pressure washer nozzle for a long time.
Some pressure washers also have specialized attachments for other purposes, so if you’re buying or renting, take a look at what options are available.