Did you recently buy an older home with a natural stone wall around either a patio or the yard? Time and the elements can make once beautiful stone start to look grimy and discolored. But if the wall hasn't suffered any structural damage, fixing the cosmetic issues can give you the look of a brand new wall with a minimal investment of time and money.
Cleaning severe dirt buildup off a natural stone wall can seem like a lofty task due to the fact that you do need to use caution to avoid damaging the wall while also not going so easy on the dirt that it will never come off. There are a few key tips for cleaning that can help you eliminate the dirt buildup, save yourself some time and hassle, and not risk any damage to the wall.
Invest in a Pressure Washer – and Practice
Pressure washing, also called power washing, can make the cleaning process far faster and more efficient. You will need to purchase a pressure washer at the hardware store. If you are new to pressure washing, take some time out to carefully read the user's manual. You can then perform a practice run on a sturdy concrete walkway to test using different settings.
Once you become used to the settings, use the pressure washer to perform a patch test on the natural stone wall. You want to start using the lowest pressure setting and choose a section of the wall that's less visible, such as an area near the ground on the rear of the wall. Aim the pressure washer at that area and see what happens.
If the dirt loosens immediately, then you are in for an easy afternoon of simply pressure washing your wall clean. Longstanding dirt buildups might not be as cooperative, however. You can test increasing the pressure, but be careful to watch for signs that you are actually etching or damaging the stone rather than simply removing the dirt.
If the pressure washing alone isn't accomplishing much, you will need to do some hand scrubbing before making another attempt with the washer.
Hand Scrubbing is Still Important
Use a stiff wire brush and your own elbow grease to try and loosen up the stuck-on dirt. If your wall is too tall to reach from the ground, bring in a ladder or simply use a long broom that has a stiff head on the end to reach the higher places.
If you want to use a chemical cleaner, hand scrubbing is the stage to bring that into play. There are chemical cleaners you can use in the pressure washer if you are comfortable using the unit, but pressure washing newbies might be better off applying the chemical cleaner carefully by hand.
Use Chemicals Responsibly
If you do use a cleaning chemical, make sure you use protective eye and mouth gear to keep yourself safe. Cover any nearby plants or landscaping with tarp to prevent any damage to your greenery. Follow the package directions on the cleaner carefully and rinse off thoroughly with a hose when the cleaner has stayed on for the recommended time.
Rinse the wall a couple of times if you plan to still follow up with some pressure washing. You want to make sure the chemicals are clear before you apply pressure to the wall, as the pressure can make the chemicals splash onto unintended places. For more information or assistance with pressure washing, contact a company like Pressure Washing by Projects Restoration.