After only a year, my brand new garage floor was looking worse for the wear. It needed a good cleaning.
I wanted to buy a pressure washer but because I had an epoxy paint, I had to do a little research beforehand.
Can you pressure wash a garage floor? Yes, but it might not be necessary. For untreated or painted floors, it’s safe to pressure wash your garage floor using at least a 25 degree nozzle. If you have a high-end epoxy floor, pressure washing isn’t recommended. Usually, cleaning an epoxy coating with a mop or medium bristle brush is sufficient.
Before you run out and buy a pressure washer like I did, it’s important to look at what kind of garage floor you have. Then we’re going to discuss some pressure washer basics so you can get the best results possible in the shortest amount of time.
Power washer vs pressure washer
But first. here’s quick fact that I learned in my research: pressure washers and power washers are different things.
Like most people, I just assumed that they were just different names to call the same thing, but they’re not. There’s one big difference and it all comes down to the temperature of the water.
A pressure washer uses cold water and a power washer uses hot water. Because of the difference in water temperature, the power washer has to be constructed differently than a pressure washer.
Unfortunately, you can’t just hook a hot water hose up to a pressure washer. It’s very likely going to damage the washer.
Power washers are used to clean exterior concrete where there’s a large amount of caked on organic matter (dirt, bird poop, grass stains, etc.).
In general, unless your garage is covered with caked on grease and dirt, pressure washing with a cleaning solution like Simple Green should take care of most everything.
If you DO have grease or oil spills on your garage, you should take care of them first. Check out my article on how to clean grease up off your garage floor for more details.
What kind of garage floor do you have?
This is going to be embarrassing, but I need to make sure we’re on the same page.
I thought I had an epoxy floor.
I was wrong.
My contractor said he would throw in an epoxy coating for free. I was thrilled! What I got was an epoxy paint which is VERY DIFFERENT.
An epoxy coating is around $7 per square foot, which is around $2500 for a typical two-car garage. It’s extremely durable, takes multiple days to complete and typically has a high-gloss sheen to it.
Epoxy paint on the other hand is under $100 and you can but it at Lowe’s or Home Depot and finish it in an afternoon. It offers a little more protection than a regular acrylic paint, but it’s…well..it’s paint.
Don’t expect it to protect your floor.
Alternately, you could have bare concrete with no finish whatsoever, or you could have a garage tile like Swisstrax or RaceDeck.
Can you pressure wash epoxy floors?
Most people think epoxy floors are just a paint with a protective coating, and that’s just not the case.
A true epoxy floor isn’t a paint at all. The epoxy is created by combining an epoxide resin with a polyamine hardener. Putting the two compounds together cause a chemical reaction that cures (hardens) the coating.
Once fully hardened, the coating is pretty much bulletproof. Think of it like a clear-coat for your garage floor.
Can you pressure wash an epoxy coated floor? Yes, but you probably won’t need to. The curing process when you make the epoxy floor not only makes it resistant to damage, but it also makes it extremely easy to clean up. A simple mop or medium-bristle brush should remove almost anything.
Can You Pressure Wash Garage Tiles like Swisstrax or RaceDeck?
High quality injected-mold plastic tiles are extremely durable. In fact, they’re likely to stand up better to pressure washing than your concrete floor will.
Garage tiles are molded from a single piece of plastic. That plastic is the same color the whole way through. That means there’s no paint that can chip or flake off during pressure washing.
As long as you don’t hammer them with a 0 degree nozzle, they can stand up to almost anything.
Really, the only concern is to have adequate drainage underneath the tiles themselves.
If you have plastic garage tiles like the ones from Swisstrax or RaceDeck, you probably don’t need to pressure wash them, but it’s good to know that they can stand up to the pressure (pun intended).
What do the different pressure washer nozzles mean?
I’ve made some passing references to a 15 degree nozzle and a 0 degree nozzle. Let me go into a little more detail on that now because choosing the right nozzle pattern can make cleaning your floor go much faster. Choosing the wrong nozzle can actually damage it.
The numbers on the nozzles correspond to the degree of width of their pattern. For example, a 15 degree nozzle sprays the water out of the washer so that it spreads out 15 degrees.
The higher the number, the wider the pattern and the less force behind each droplet of water.
A word of caution about the red 0 degree nozzle: It’s a laser beam made of water.
It may sound cool to just opt for this nozzle right off the bat, but you’re likely to cut into your concrete floor while you’re trying to clean it.
Always start off with the lowest pressure nozzle and see if that does the job first.
Electric vs. gas pressure washers
If you’re a homeowner, I highly recommend buying an electric pressure washer.
I’ll leave the specific recommendations to someone else since I’ve only used the one electric model I bought and one gas-powered pressure washer that I rented.
Here are some general comments on the two types of pressure washers.
Gas powered pressure washers
The gas powered model is undeniably more powerful, but it’s also a pain in the ***. It’s noisy, expensive to buy and expensive to operate. You have to worry about gasoline leaking on your driveway or lawn, and storing gasoline and oil in your garage is unsafe, especially if you have children.
Gas powered pressure washers start around the $350-$400 range for a 3000 PSI model, but can go up quickly from there.
Electric pressure washers
Electric pressure washers on the other hand are half the cost (or less), cheaper to maintain and safe around children and your home. They are without a doubt less powerful. The least powerful gas powered pressure washer is usually stronger than a high-end electric pressure washer.
You can find electric pressure washers for under $100 for a 1500 PSI model and they usually top out around $300 for a 2300 PSI model.
How much power do you need?
I’m all about more power (insert Tim Allen grunt here). But do you really need it?
For general cleaning around the house, you only need between 2000-3000 PSI. Cleaning your car only requires between 1500-2000 PSI.
Because my electric pressure washer is so portable and easy to use, I’ve found so many uses for it after I bought it.
It’s a quick job to bring it out to clean my garage floor, porch, driveway pavers, or even clean off my car during Florida’s lovebug season.
Cleaning your garage floor doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. With an electric pressure washer (and the right nozzle), you can make it a regular process that takes half an hour instead of an entire afternoon.