Q: What kind of companies can I hire to pressure wash a home and a wood deck? Are there any risks with power washing?
Alan M., River Vale, N.J.
A: Pressure washing is great for removing dirt, stains and mold from the exterior of homes, as well as wood decks and brick or stone patios.
If you don’t want to go the DIY route, you can hire a pressure washing business to do the job. Some cleaning, decking and landscaping companies also offer this service.
▪ The key to DIY: Don’t overdo it. If you decide to pressure wash your home or deck yourself, a pressure washer rental is typically $40 to $75 a day, depending on where you live.
If you’re looking to buy a residential electric pressure washer, expect to pay $70 to $200. Gas pressure washers typically have more power than electric models and can range from $300 to $1,000. Powerful commercial pressure washers start at around $1,000.
For pressure washers, power is gauged in pounds per square inch, and many pressure washers are capable of as much as 3,000 psi — more than enough to punch holes in siding, erode cement, damage wood decks and cause serious injury.
Don’t go overboard if you’re pressure washing a house or deck — start with the lowest setting and work your way up if you find yourself facing stubborn stains.
▪ Take safety precautions. Never point a pressure washer at people or pets, and be sure to wear protective glasses, as well as gloves, boots and long sleeves while operating one.
If it’s windy, pay attention to which way the wind is blowing to keep water and debris from spraying back at you.
If you’re pressure washing your house, start at the top and work your way down, avoiding electrical outlets, windows and screens. Know your surroundings and be cautious using a pressure washer around overhead wires, electrical panels and exterior lights.
▪ When to hire a pressure washer. While you may be able to tackle smaller pressure-washing jobs like a one-story home or deck, for big jobs, it’s usually best to call in a professional. They have the right equipment for hard-to-reach areas and the experience to do so without falling. They also know how to clean specific areas, such as the roof, without causing damage.
▪ Professional pressure washing cost. The cost to have your house pressure washed depends on where you live, the size of your home, and how much dirt and mold needs to be removed. In 2014, Angie’s List members reported spending an average of $338 on professional pressure washing.
Deck cleaning alone typically costs between $0.25 and $1.50 per square foot. The price is often higher for multi-level decks, and some companies charge extra to clean deck railings and stairs.
If you’re having your deck pressure washed, consider having it sealed or stained as well, to protect the wood and extend its life. Hiring a professional to clean and seal your deck can cost from $1 to $5 per square foot, for a total $320 to $1,600, depending on the size of your deck.
Power washing businesses are generally not required to be licensed, so before hiring a contractor, take time to read customer reviews and ask for references. Note: If a power washer will work in an area with plants or other items that could be damaged, ask what kind of cleaning solution will be used and whether it could damage plants or soil.
Angie Hicks is founder of www.AngiesList.com, provider of consumer reviews and services. Send questions to email@example.com