Asphalt is one of the top two paving options in the world and for good reason – asphalt is strong, affordable, and looks great. A beautiful and shiny new blacktop can increase curb appeal and make your property look great, but what does a homeowner need to do to keep that appearance up?
Clean, beautiful asphalt that lasts multiple decades won’t happen unless you take care of minor chores, like cleaning and sealcoating your asphalt. There are a few different options for cleaning asphalt but what about the pressure washer in your garage? Can you pressure wash asphalt?
Can You Pressure Wash Asphalt?
Yes, you can pressure wash asphalt but before you wheel out your washer and crank it up, you need to take certain steps for the most thorough job that won’t harm your asphalt.
How to Pressure Wash Asphalt Driveway
Let’s learn if pressure washing asphalt is a good idea, alternatives to pressure washing, and other steps to keep your asphalt shiny and strong.
Clear the Asphalt
Your first job is to clear your asphalt in preparation for pressure washing. Remove furniture, planters, and any other fixture near your driveway before sweeping everything off with a push broom or leaf blower. The more debris you move off, the better the asphalt will take to cleaning.
Check for Issues
Walk your asphalt and check for issues like pitting, pockmarks, gouges, and cracks. Circle these with chalk and try to stay away when pressure washing. The force of pressure washing can worsen current problems. If possible, aim to get these issues fixed by an asphalt contractor prior to pressure washing.
Use DIY methods like kitty litter or asphalt-appropriate degreaser to remove oil and other stains from the driveway. Even a strong pressure wash will have a tough time eliminating oil stains without pre-treatment and could damage your asphalt if you water pressure is concentrated in one spot for too long.
Start Pressure Washing
When your driveway is clean and oil stains are treated it’s time to use your pressure washer. Start the pressure washer on a low setting and work methodically from one side of the driveway to the other. If your driveway is sloped begin on the high side and work your way to the low end to avoid blasting dirt and debris over previously cleaned spots.
Warning: Asphalt is strong but not invincible. Turn your pressure washer setting to the lowest setting that still cleans dirt and grime for your asphalt. High settings could cause damage or make existing problems worse. Avoid keeping in one spot for too long.
Can Pressure Washing Damage My Concrete Driveway?
Pressure washing can be an effective way to clean your concrete driveway, but it must be done carefully to avoid potential damage. Here are some considerations:
Using a pressure washer with too high a pressure level can damage the surface of your concrete. It’s best to use a pressure washer with adjustable pressure settings and start with a lower pressure to avoid any harm.
Use a wide-angle nozzle or a surface cleaner attachment rather than a narrow, high-pressure nozzle. This helps distribute the pressure evenly and minimizes the risk of surface damage.
Use appropriate concrete cleaners or detergents to help break down stains and dirt, reducing the reliance on high-pressure washing.
Keep a safe distance between the pressure washer nozzle and the concrete surface. Start farther away and gradually move closer until you find the right distance that effectively cleans without causing damage.
What Can I Do If I Damage My Concrete?
If you accidentally damage your concrete parking lot, there are several steps you can take depending on the extent of the damage:
For small cracks, you can fill them with a concrete crack filler or patching compound. Clean the area, apply the filler, and smooth it out. Follow the product instructions for the best results.
Larger holes or depressions may require more extensive repairs. You may need to cut out the damaged area, fill it with fresh concrete, and level it properly. This process may require professional assistance.
For surface stains, consider using concrete cleaning agents or pressure washing. Stubborn stains may require more specialized stain removers.
To prevent future damage, engage in regular maintenance, such as sealing your concrete every few years to protect it from moisture and stains.
Consult a Professional:
If you’re uncertain about the extent of the damage or the repair process, it’s advisable to consult with a professional concrete contractor. They can assess the damage and provide guidance on the best course of action.
How Often to Pressure Wash and Reseal Driveway
Many homeowners choose asphalt thanks to its beauty and great value, but that asphalt needs to be maintained to look and perform its best for years. For most homeowners this means a thorough cleaning and reseal every 1-2 years. If possible, talk to the original asphalt installer to determine how often you should clean and reseal your asphalt.
Is it Good to Use Power Washing Asphalt?
Homeowners can use a pressure washer to clean their asphalt but should always use caution to not damage the asphalt and should always reseal after a thorough cleaning. If the homeowner can take care of cleaning and sealing every one to two years, your asphalt will reward you with strength and a gorgeous jet-black shine for years to come.
Alternatives to Pressure Washing Asphalt
Pressure washers make quick and thorough work of cleaning a driveway but not everyone has a pressure washer available. If you’re lacking the power of a pressure washer you can still clean your asphalt but it will take longer.
- Large bucket
- Push brush
- Asphalt-appropriate cleaner – available at your local home improvement store
Like pressure washing, you’re encouraged to work methodically from one area to the other and uphill to downhill. Follow the directions for the cleaning solution and get prepared to sweat while you scrub up months of caked on dirt.
After you’ve finished scrubbing, work down the driveway again with a garden hose and spray off the excess dirt and grime. It’s going to take more time and sweat but a proper cleaning is how you get your asphalt ready for the next step.
Resealing asphalt, not cleaning, is the most important step to keep your asphalt durable and beautiful for many years. Sealing asphalt provides a fresh new protective layer on top of asphalt that will not only look great but protect your asphalt from common issues like fading and gouges.
Don’t hit yourself if you’ve put in a lot of elbow grease to clean your driveway, as that’s the first step for a proper reseal. After you clean your driveway, let it dry out completely (12-24 hours) before applying sealcoat.
Homeowners can clean and reseal their driveway by themselves, but it’s recommended you leave resealing asphalt to a professional. A professional can inspect your asphalt, fix any issues that could harm resealing, then apply sealcoat with a professional hand to make your asphalt look brand new.
If you choose to reseal yourself read over the instructions carefully and be sure to purchase a product that is only intended for asphalt.