By Teri Olcott
It’s great to have a garage to park your car in. A garage protects both you and the car from the elements, but depending on where you live, the floor can take quite a beating. Oil stains, ground in dirt, tar, and other road debris are the price we pay for having a clean car. Getting a garage floor clean again can seem like a challenge, but not if have the help of a pressure washer. Don’t own a pressure washer? You can buy one or you can rent one depending on how often you think you will use it. There are different kinds of pressure washers and choosing the wrong one for the job may be a waste of time and money. The following information will help you get that garage floor looking new again.
Pressure Washer vs. Power Washer: What’s the Difference?
When it comes to pressure washing a bare concrete floor, there are two types of washers you can choose. Both operate in the same way, but a power washer has a unit that heats up the water where a pressure washer does not. A power washer is heavier and more expensive to buy or rent than a pressure washer and is only needed if you have a lot of large oil and grease stains. For everyday road dirt and a few small oil stains, a cold-water pressure washer will do the job. You will be pretreating the oil stains anyway and can always use hot water on just the stained area if needed.
How to Choose a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers are either gas powered or electric. As the name suggests, the machine is designed to shoot out water at great pressure which easily removes dirt and debris from a concrete garage floor. The water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. In addition to PSI, you will also want to pay attention to the water flow rate of the machine which is measured in gallons per minute or GPM. What kind of pressure washer should you rent or buy to clean your concrete garage floor? For an unpainted, concrete floor, a gas-powered pressure washer with a rating of 3,000 PSI and 3 GPM or more will get the job done. Anything less than that will result in added time and may not remove ground in dirt or old oil stains. The decision to rent or buy will come down to how often you will use the pressure washer. The average rental cost is around $50 a day depending on where you live. Buying a pressure washer can range from $200 to $500.
Pretreating Your Garage Floor Before Cleaning
Before you begin spraying high-pressure water all over your garage floor, you need to get your garage as empty as possible. This may require a bit of garage decluttering to remove anything that can be damaged by water. Once the garage is empty, sweep it thoroughly to remove any loose surface dirt and debris. If you have walls that can’t get wet, such as finished drywall, and electrical outlets, tape plastic drop cloths to the lower half of the walls. Now wet down the floor with a garden hose. Pretreat any oil or grease stains with a strong degreaser. You may want to scrub the stain with a stiff brush to make sure the degreaser penetrates the stain. Let the stain soak for 20 minutes without drying out. If it does start to dry out, add a little water and scrub it again.
If your pressure washer has a separate reservoir for general de-greasing, you can de-grease the rest of the garage floor while you wait for the stubborn stains to dissolve. Fill the reservoir per the pressure washer user manual instructions and use the low-pressure tip with the cleaning wand. Your pressure washer should come with several tips. Start up the washer and spray the degreasing solution onto the rest of the garage floor. You can purchase any type of concrete and driveway cleaner at your local hardware store. If your pressure washer does not have a de-greasing reservoir, mix up a bucket of the degreasing solution and spread it around the garage floor with a mop. Let it sit for 20 minutes without drying out. You can spray water with the garden hose as needed.
Safety Tips for Using a Pressure Washer
Whether you rent or buy a pressure washer, read the user manual before you turn it on. Failure to start up or shut down the pressure washer correctly can result in damage to the washer which can be costly if renting.
The water that comes out of the spraying tip is very powerful and can take the skin off your fingers or feet. Always wear shoes when pressure washing. Old work boots or rubber boots work best as your feet will get wet. Never spray the top of your shoes or point the spraying wand at you or anyone else. It’s not like a garden hose.
Never use your hand to check the pressure of the water. It will hurt your hand. Never change spray nozzles while the water is spraying. Shut the water off to change nozzles. It’s always a good idea to wear eye protection when working with a pressure washer as small rocks and other objects can spray back into your eyes.
Don’t use a pressure washer on a painted garage floor. The pressure of the water will remove the paint and sealer.
Pressure Spraying Your Garage Floor
After the degreaser has had time to do its job, it’s now time for the fun to begin. Hook up the garden hose to the pressure washer per the user manual directions. Select the 15-degree spray nozzle. If the floor isn’t too dirty, you can use the 25-degree spray nozzle. 25 degrees will cover a larger area but will have less pressure. You may need to experiment with different nozzles to see which works best for removing dirt. Keep the tip about a foot from the floor while spraying. Keep the wand moving and try not to spray one spot for any length of time. Make several passes over dirty areas. Spraying one spot for too long can damage the concrete. Pay special attention to any oily area that you pretreated. Work in a pattern to completely clean the entire floor. Most people start at the back and work their way to the door. Once the floor is clean, use a garden hose to hose down your driveway to remove any dirt that has been forced out by the pressure washer.
Using a pressure washer to clean your garage floor isn’t difficult. Make sure you choose the correct pressure washer for the job and pretreat and de-grease the floor thoroughly before you start. The end result should be a shiny clean floor that you can be proud to park your car on.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com