Did I ruin my driveway? How do I fix this?

I am new to pressure washing and yesterday went out and bought a new pressure washer and went to work on my driveway. The difference was immediate and amazing on my 6 year old driveway. Unfortunately, later in the day after everything dried I was able to see the damage I believe I did to my driveway… It appears that I blasted away a top layer of the concrete in some areas and left lines etched in some spots. I was using a 3100 PSI 2.5 GPM Black Max Pressure Washer. (See pics of damage). In researching after the incident I now know that I should have used a surface cleaner attachment (I was using the 40 degree white nozzle directly). I have now ordered the attachment and am wondering if I should go back over the section of the driveway to drive to “even out” the damage?

Any other suggestions on how I can fix this?? Any help or insights are greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, you did ruin your driveway. You removed the top creme layer. It can even happen when using a surface cleaner and especially if the driveway isn’t very old. Pressure washing isn’t all about using as much pressure as possible. You have to select the proper nozzles to reduce pressure. With exterior cleaning you rely more on cleaning chemicals and detergents rather than pressure.

You can try and go over it with the surface cleaner with hopes it will even it out. You’ll be removing more of the creme layer though. There are ways to resurface concrete but can get kind of pricey. A turbo nozzle might also help to even it out some. It’ll likely still be somewhat noticeable though.

Before washing your house research “soft washing” on here. You want to use extremely low pressure on your siding. The water should be coming out of the wand with a little more force than a garden hose. Spray on a bleach/soap solution. Let dwell 10 minutes. Then rinse with low pressure. Brick can handle some pressure though if needed.

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This may seem like a dumb question, but can I use “less” pressure with my 3100 PSI machine? I thought the pressure was set by the washer I purchased… I was using the white 40 degree tip which I thought was the lowest pressure option. When I get my surface cleaner (should arrive today), do I need to do anything special to minimize the pressure? Thinking I will try to go over the etched area with it to see if I get any improvement.

You adjust pressure by nozzle selection. You can use a nozzle chart to figure out what nozzle you need. As far as the surface cleaner I’m not sure if the one you ordered will have nozzles that can be changed out since it’s probably a homeowner unit. The surface cleaners that most of us on here use do. We either refuse a job to wash newer concrete, soft wash it, or drop the psi by installing nozzles with larger orifices.

If the surface cleaner doesn’t even things out you can try muratic acid. Definitely do a test spots though. The longer you let it sit before rinsing the more it’s going to eat away at the surface. I would think it would help to even things out.

Here’s a nozzle chart. Start at the top row at the psi you’re wanting. Follow that column down until your get to the gpm of your machine which is 2.5 gpm. Then follow that row to the left to the nozzle size needed. That number is just the orifice size. When you go and look at nozzles there will be 2 other numbers at the beginning depending on the degree pattern. For example. 1504 That would be a 15 degree nozzle with a 4 orifice. That would give you about 1500 psi with your 2.5 gpm machine.


@marinegrunt Thanks for taking the time out of your Sunday morning to help a guy out! I will give you suggestions a try.

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Call a professional.

Given the my current situation, what kind of professional would you recommend? Did you mean I should have called a professional to begin with (which is a less helpful suggestion) or are there professionals I can call now to fix my issue? Would I call a pressure washing company, or at this point do you mean I should just call a concrete company? Any idea what the ballpark cost to just have it resurfaced might run?

I’d live with the damage before I spent 4 or 5k busting it up and repouring. Sell or give away the machine you have and save up and buy quality equipment if you plan on going into the business

You absolutely should’ve called a professional to clean your driveway but you’re way past that now. You will need to call a concrete company to fix the damage you caused. I have never damaged concrete so I have no clue how much it would cost to repair. Good luck with it. Next time call a professional and save your money.

You can adjust the pressure you put out with the wand by using tips and by moving the wand closer and further away from the concrete. With a surface cleaner, to properly adjust the pressure, change the tips.

For me it was less about trying to save money by doing it myself, and more about being self sufficient and taking pride in being able to maintain my own home. In this case, my learning may end up being more expensive than I initially expected, but ultimately I still want to learn the skill to be able to do it myself. Thanks for your reply though.


Good luck with it :+1:

A business/life built on deceit and lies usually fails, or at least it should.


In looking at your photo, it seems you really bore down right on top of it and scored the top layer of the concrete. I don’t know how dirty it was originally so it’s hard to say if that level of pressure was necessary. (It took it off fast, didn’t it?) :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m also wondering if your concrete top layer, (the cream,) wasn’t somewhat soft, because it typically won’t do that unless you use the 0 tip and really dig in.

I don’t think you did wrong by getting your unit and doing it yourself, (because nobody calls a pro every time he needs a screw turned.) But you ran into an unfortunate situation that really bit you.

The drive isn’t "ruined " in that it is still functional and serves it’s purpose. Your house’s curb appeal is damaged, and you will see that top layer erode more quickly, but I doubt it needs replacing. (And if you do try to resurface it via more pressure, it won’t restore the original look. It will just even out the roughness.)

I would say an industrial resurfacer that grinds off the top layer would be you only true solution if its current state is unbearable. That’s a lot of money, (and still won’t look perfect or like new,) but would even it out and put on its best face.

Happy homeowning.

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To clarify, pressure is adjusted by the nozzle orifice size, or bore if you will. Think 410 vs 12 ga shotgun. The bigger the orifice size, the less pressure will come out.

I like about 2400psi for concrete, that’s just me though.

If you weren’t suggesting, why bring it up. Truly disappointed.

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Post treat it with a new layer of concrete


If he is just a homeowner and not wanting to do pressure washing as a job and just wants to fix his driveway, get a cheap Lowe’s cleaner and blend it :man_shrugging:

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That is my thought. I actually ordered a cheap (~$60) surface cleaner and am hoping I can just blend it out a bit by going over it again to at least make it look more uniform. Surface cleaner should be here tomorrow and I will give it a try and let everyone know how it turned out.

Come on man… I’m sure this forum has taught you tons as it has me. Let’s not put any poor information or suggestions out there. Giving out information should be left to the real professionals.

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