Wahlen Works Blog

DIY Pressure Washing
DIY pressure washing is quite the fad. Lots of people think they can tell you how to safely use a pressure washer to clean your property. After all, you’re spraying water. How hard can it be?  Not hard at all according to HGTV and DIY Network. “The process only requires a few tools”, they say. “You can purchase a pressure washer at nearly any hardware store or rent one from a local tool rental shop”, they insist. “Erase years of wear and tear from your driveway in just a few simple steps”, they promise. Be skeptical, we advise.

It Looks Easier Than It Is

Pressure washing is one of those things that looks much easier than it actually is. Without experience or someone to show you what to do, you won’t be certain of the outcome of your first efforts with the pressure washer. When you operate a pressure washer incorrectly, you run the risk of property damage, physical injury, and environmental pollution. If you use too much pressure for too long in a small area, you will have etched concrete. If you don’t know what safety precautions to take or if you give into the temptation to take safety shortcuts, you can end up in the emergency room. Indiscriminate, unplanned washing can send pollutants into the municipal water system or your carefully tended garden.
Even people who have experience with professional power washing equipment are tired and dirty at the end of the job. When you consider the expenses of DIY pressure washing — machine rental, cleaning supplies, potential damage repair — and the amount of time the work will take, you have to consider the return on investment. It’s especially tempting for small business owners with modestly-sized properties to think that they can save some money by going the DIY route. But, wouldn’t the time you spend learning pressure washing the hard way be better spent investing in the business you own — the place where you are an expert?
At Wahlen Works, we are experts in pressure washing so we do have a dog in this hunt. We think you are going to be happier and better off if you hire us to do your pressure washing rather than doing it yourself. And we are not the only ones who urge potential novice pressure washers to be cautious. Glenn Hegge of the “Handyman Show” says, “While a power washer often is the tool of choice for driveways, decks and siding, you have heard me caution about using a power washer for certain projects, because the water pressure these units create can damage the things you are trying to make look good.”

Pressure Washing Pitfalls

We have observed five common areas where inexperienced pressure washing gets people into trouble. Each one provides a good reason not to undertake DIY power washing. 
  1. Using too much pressure. Water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi). The water pressure of a typical garden hose is about 40 psi, while a gas-powered pressure washer dispenses water at between 2000 to 2800 psi (source: consumer reports). This is enough pressure to splinter wood, dent automobiles, and etch concrete. Without experience, it’s easy to cause damage that is expensive to fix.
  1. Working inefficiently. Most 1950’s housewives would tell you that it’s best to clean top to bottom and back to front. They would probably also tell you to soak tough stains and air dry your sheets. The same principles apply to pressure washing. However, if you aren’t accustomed to this mindset, you might not think to pre-treat grease stains until they didn’t get clean the first time. 
  1. Not using the correct products. Speaking of pre-treating, do you know which solutions to use? Or which detergents to add to the water? Or that you need to add cleaning solutions to the water at all? If not, don’t feel bad. Most people don’t. This is where a professional can save time and money by doing the job right the first time. In addition, they know how to keep harmful chemicals out of the sewer system and out of your landscaping.
  1. Not using the correct equipment. There are many different types of pressure washers available for rent and for purchase. Generally speaking, electric units have a lower psi and gas units have a higher psi. Beyond that, it takes some time to research and decide which machine you need. Or you can take the word of the salesperson. All of these things take time and have a learning curve. 
  1. Failing to take proper safety precautions. If your pressure washer can etch concrete, what do you think it will do to your Nike’s? You need the right protective equipment which includes sturdy shoes, protective eyewear, and gloves. If you are using a gas powered machine you shouldn’t operate it in an enclosed space. If you are using an electric machine you need to remember that water is an excellent conductor of electricity. In other words, if you’ve never operated a pressure washer before, there’s a lot to learn. Most of it is probably in the manual, but how much of that will you realistically read?
Properly maintained hardscapes add value to your property and speak well of your business. And yet, your time is most valuable when it’s invested in what matters most to you. Instead of spending your Saturday learning how to use a pressure washer, be a DIY outdoorsman and let the facilities professionals keep your facility clean.
seal your concrete
Anyone who has ever tried to maneuver through a parking structure which is in the middle of extensive repairs knows that it’s bad for business. Drivers going opposite directions need to share the same lane when they can’t see around the corner. Dust, debris, and muddy water coat their clean cars. The noise is deafening. And they still have to pay to be there.
As bad as it is on visitors, imagine how much worse it must be for the property owner who has to shoulder the burden of the expense and apologize to customers. We’re not saying that sealing your concrete means you never have to make repairs. But we are saying that you can greatly lengthen the period of time in between repairs when you seal your concrete.

In this blog post we will look at the three most important reasons to seal your concrete.

First, as mentioned above, sealed concrete lasts longer. The sealant keeps chemicals and water from penetrating the concrete. At Wahlen Works, we use a top of the line silane sealer which improves resistance to deicing salts, reduces dirt penetration, and will not degrade when exposed to the sun’s UV rays. This in turn reduces the risk that the rebar within the concrete will corrode. “Silane is the smallest molecular compound of commonly available penetrating sealers. Chemically, Silane forms a covalent bond within porous masonry that clots surface pores. Silane…will only wear away if the concrete surface itself wears away. Noted for very low viscosity, silane is frequently used for sealing dense concrete, such as parking decks, concrete facades, and dense brick…It can be used on parking surfaces, bridges, roadways, runways, curbs, and other concrete surfaces. (source)
Second, a sealed concrete surface is much nicer looking, which speaks well of your business. And sealed concrete retains its professional appearance longer than unsealed concrete. If you’ve ever tried to park in a location where the pavement striping is almost completely faded away or there are holes in the parking surface, you know what we mean. As a property owner who cares about the impression you make to your visitors and the community, you want to ensure that your concrete is sealed on a regular basis. 
Third, sealed concrete resists staining. In the summer stains can come from ice cream, soda pop, and melted candy. In the winter stains come from salt, sand, and melted ice. Oil, grease, and chewing gum are problems year-round. Without proper sealing, these stains can permanently mar the surface of your concrete, making it look old before it’s time. As an added bonus, sealed concrete is much easier to clean than a non-sealed surface, saving you time and money.
If your concrete surfaces haven’t been given their proper attention in awhile, start with a thorough sweep and pressure wash. After pressure washing, preserve your facilities by sealing your concrete. In addition to the long-term savings, we will ensure that you enjoy short-term savings as well by creating a package deal that meets your needs on your schedule. Give us a call today at (414) 771-0884 or request a quote online. You’ll be glad you did.
Concrete has made the modern world

The importance of concrete can’t be overstated. It is the most widely used man-made material on the planet.

A recent blog post by Bill Gates is titled, “Have You Hugged a Concrete Pillar Today?” He quotes Vaclav Smill who “argues that the most important man-made material is concrete, both in terms of the amount we produce each year and the total mass we’ve laid down. It is the foundation (literally) for the massive expansion of urban areas of the past several decades, which has been a big factor in cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half since 1990.”

What is Concrete?

According to the University of Illinois Department of Materials Science and Engineering, concrete is a composite material which is made up of a filler and a binder. The binder (cement paste) “glues” the filler together to form a synthetic conglomerate. The constituents used for the binder are cement and water, while the filler can be fine or coarse aggregate… It is important to distinguish between cement and concrete as they are not the same.”

Cement is not used on its own. When it’s mixed with fine filler you get mortar for masonry. When it’s mixed with coarse sand and gravel you get concrete. Another key piece of the equation is water. The amount of water you use determines the strength of the aggregate. “Low water to cement ratio leads to high strength but low workability. High water to cement ratio leads to low strength, but good workability.” It can be further strengthened by adding rebar – reinforcing steel bars.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Concrete is strong enough to bear the heavy load of a skyscraper without compressing. It can resist the pressure of water behind a dam. It can support thousands of cars, trucks, and busses on a bridge. There is a reason that concrete structures from the Roman Empire still exist.

Concrete can also deteriorate. In places like Wisconsin, where the temperatures drop below freezing every year, water from snow and rain can penetrate its surface. The water expands about 9% in volume as it freezes. When it melts during warmer weather it causes the material to weaken over time. Concrete also deteriorates when exposed to certain chemicals such as acids which are present in spills, or salts and alkalis which are used to treat driving surfaces in winter.

At Wahlen Works, we know concrete. We understand it’s properties and we know how to preserve it. The surface needs regular washing to remove acids, salts, and alkalis. It needs to be sealed once every five years or so. We are ready to bring our expertise to your unique property challenges and save you money over the long-term.

Concrete Trivia

  • The first concrete street in America was built in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1891.
  • The heaviest concrete structure in the world today is the Three Gorges Dam in China, which opened in 2003. It weighs 144,309,356,753.51 pounds. 
  • In 1819, the first known parking garage was built for the Hotel La Salle in Chicago. 
  • The Pantheon in Rome has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. 
  • In the modern world, only water is used more than concrete.
Spring cleaning for parking structures and garages

Spring has officially arrived! One of the first things we recommend you do is go outside and take a look at your parking structures and garages. Are they gray and dusty? Is there an unpleasant accumulation of sand and salt? Have the markings on the pavement faded? Has trash been blown into the corners? If so it’s time for spring cleaning. If the debris and chemicals and sand aren’t disposed of properly, you risk damaged concrete and clogged drains.

Your concrete needs regular cleaning and preventative maintenance to prolong the life of the surface and save money on expensive repairs. But it especially needs a deep clean after one of our long midwestern winters. Located in the middle of the “Winter Facts” page on the Wisconsin DOT website is a list of some the materials they use to treat roads for snow and ice: calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, salt brine. Property owners should remove and dispose of pollutants properly for structural preservation. This maintenance also maintains an aesthetically pleasing appearance and prevents environmental damage. Engaging in prompt clean-up will also reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians who might slip on accumulated dry sand.

Spring Cleaning List

The spring cleaning list for parking structures and garages includes:

  1. A thorough sweeping to remove trash, sand, salt, and any leftover leaves from last fall.
  2. Pre-treating stains from oil spills, beverage spills, and other dirt deposits.
  3. Professional power washing with a high pressure nozzle to deep clean the paved surface and lift out all of the dirt.
  4. Re-marking of faded parking stall lines, pedestrian walkways, and directional arrows.
  5. Concrete sealing to protect your surfaces from water, chemicals, and traffic wear-and-tear.

Once each of the items above is checked off, it’s time to think about ongoing maintenance. Some facilities, such as hospitals, have a high volume of traffic and high turnover in the parking areas. Dirt and debris accumulate much faster than in a structure, such as an apartment, that doesn’t see as many vehicles entering and exiting. A high volume facility may require monthly sweeping while a low volume facility may only need two to three maintenance sweeps a year.

Spring Cleaning Service Package

Spring is a great time to consider a complete service package for your property. Service packages include sweeping, power washing, pavement striping, concrete sealing, and ongoing maintenance. This type of package offers the greatest value to the business owner. At Wahlen Works the cost is significantly less than if the services were purchased separately. We can create contracts for time periods between one to five years so that you can plan and budget accordingly. Longer term contracts lock in current pricing and save the headache of having to address the same issue year after year.

Don’t hire a novice. Our knowledge of equipment, processes, and chemicals will ensure that your parking facility maintains a clean, professional appearance at all times. We provide our services on your schedule so that your business isn’t disrupted and we guarantee outstanding results. Contact us today to schedule an appointment that fits with your schedule. https://www.wahlenworks.com/estimate/

new parking lot striping

If you’re a Milwaukee commercial property owner, a parking lot with freshly painted, clearly marked lines is almost as good as the smell of a brand new automobile. But that freshly painted look is hard to remember after a long winter of snow and snowplows, when your pavement striping is as faded as a ten-year old car. In addition to the pleasure of a new-looking lot, your customers’ convenience and safety depend on the clarity and visibility that a professionally striped parking lot provides.

So how do you get that “new car feel” for your old parking lot?

First, you want to ask yourself a few questions. “Does the traffic flow make sense to my visitors?” “Is the space used as efficiently as it could be? Am I compliant with all applicable regulations?” “Do I have enough upright signage for stopping, yielding, and pedestrian crossing?” “Can pedestrian walkways be clearly seen?” If the answer to any of the above questions is no, it’s time to restore your parking lot pavement to it’s original showroom look.

Fresh pavement striping will provide you with clearly marked parking stalls and bright, durable marking. This means professional quality, crisp lines measured precisely and painted to the required thickness. It includes pedestrian walking spaces, directional driving arrows, entrance and exit signs, handicapped parking spaces, loading and unloading areas, and unmistakable fire lane areas. In some instances, such as handicapped spaces and fire lanes, there must also be both marking on the pavement and on upright signs. 

Whether it is brand new asphalt, freshly seal coated concrete, or existing lines that need to be re-painted, we do it all. We have the equipment and personnel to complete the work in your off hours so we do not interrupt your operations. Restoring your Milwaukee parking lot to it’s original shine has never been easier. 

For a complete parking lot remodel, ask about including our power washing and concrete sealing services along with your pavement striping job. You’ll be proud of your property once again. 

Eco-Friendly Process

According to Greg Neiderer, Principal and Director of Restoration for Walker Consultants, a leading parking consultant in the United States, “Some parking facility owners and operators believe that as long as their structures continue to serve the public, few maintenance-related tasks need to be performed. Nothing could be further from the truth.” In a case study of three Pennsylvania garages, Neiderer shows that the one with the most comprehensive maintenance history had the lowest cost per space per year.

Proper parking structure maintenance reduces premature deterioration and future operating costs. An important part of this ongoing maintenance is the cleaning and washing of concrete surfaces. Concrete is a porous surface that can absorb oil and other liquids like a sponge. Chloride contamination caused by deicing salt contributes to deterioration of the concrete as well. These substances need to be removed regularly. Professional pressure washing produces a deep, uniform clean that is both cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing. 

At Wahlen Works we specialize in full-service commercial pressure washing for businesses that have high standards of property maintenance and cleanliness. We accomplish this with a thorough, detailed four-step cleaning process that consistently provides superior pressure washing results.

  • First, we thoroughly go over the entire facility with pre-treating chemicals which are all biodegradable. We treat oil spots, beverage stains, and other dirt deposits. 
  • Second, we apply phosphate free, professional grade detergents to the entire surface of the garage. 
  • Third, we detail every square inch with a high pressure nozzle, providing a deep clean to lift out all of the dirt. In contrast to the surface cleaning used by some other companies, this is a close application to blast all the dirt out.  
  • Fourth, we drain the waste water. We use polypropylene filters over the drains which pull oil from the water and prevent debris from washing into the sewage system. At the end, we pick up everything and dispose of it properly. If your property requires waste water recovery, we provide that service at this time. 

When you hire Wahlen Works, you are investing in the longevity and appearance of your property. In addition to reducing overall operating costs, your facility will look better and make a better impression on visitors. Contact us today to get a quote on pressure washing services for your parking structure.

parking lot striping machine

Caring for your parking lot or garage is a huge component of building maintenance. As mentioned in a previous post, it influences the first impression your customer has when they arrive at your facility. At Wahlen, we have over 40 years of experience keeping parking lots and garages in tip top shape and recommend the following schedule.

As often as needed:

The first step to keeping a lot or garage clean is to ensure the pavement is kept free of debris. Whether you manage a lot or garage, we recommend you have your pavement swept as often as you feel the need to. If you manage a lot, we definitely recommend doing a sweep after the leaves have fallen in the fall, before the first snowfall, and after winter once the snow has melted. While we love the changing colors of fall, once fallen leaves begin to deteriorate they can make your lot appear dirty. Similarly, a sweep and clean before winter can help ensure fallen snow doesn’t get dirty from what’s beneath it. Once the final snow melts, hidden debris may be revealed, so it’s another great time to call Wahlen and get your lot ready for summer.

Twice a year:

We recommend pressure washing twice a year for more than just aesthetic reasons. A proper pressure washing will help preserve the concrete surface by removing contaminants such as oil, beverage spills, and most import, salt. If left to sit on a concrete surface, salt can penetrate the concrete, resulting in pitted surfaces and rusted rebar. When the steel rebar begins to corrode, the structural integrity of the concrete becomes compromised , resulting in cracked, uneven surfaces, and weakened concrete. Pressure washing on a regular basis can delay this process for years, preserving the investment that you’ve made in the concrete surface.

Every other year:

In addition to keeping your lot or garage clean, it’s your responsibility to keep it safe for the drivers who will be parking in it. Ensuring you have clear and vibrant striping helps prevent confusion and keep drivers as well as pedestrians safe. Clear identification of handicapped parking stalls are also necessary requirements of the American with Disabilities Act. Not only does proper striping keep folks safe, it adds to the overall appearance of your building.

Every three years:

In addition to cleaning and striping, a well-maintained concrete lot or parking garage is sealed every 3-5 years. Concrete sealing is another measure of protection to help ensure your investment lasts as long as possible. Keeping up with your parking lot or garage maintenance schedule can be a lot of work, but that’s where Wahlen comes in. Wahlen Works offers sweeping, pressure washing, striping, and sealing services and we take on coordinating these efforts so you don’t have to. Contact us today to learn what we can do for you.

clean parking structure

When a customer approaches your business, their first stop is often your parking lot or garage and the outside structure of your building. Like it or not, appearances matter. When public and private spaces aren’t clean, visitors can get the impression that a place is neglected. Seeing that the outside of a business is neglected may give visitors the impression that the owner neglects other aspects of their business as well. A neglected space can even be interpreted as an unsafe space, and this isn’t a completely baseless assumption by visitors. A recent study done in England found that poor levels of cleanliness are often associated with increases in other low-level crime and social disorder. As a business owner, you don’t want these subconscious thoughts to run through the minds of your customers. At Wahlen Works, we specialize in helping businesses give the best first impression to their customers.

Pavement Marking

From the moment that a customer drives into your parking lot or structure, they should be able to easily determine where to park. Keeping up on your pavement marking and parking lot striping can help reduce the tiny amount of stress drivers may feel when looking for a parking spot.

Pressure Washing

When customers step out of their car, you want to ensure that they’re not stepping on dirty or stained pavement. Again uncleanliness can be associated with neglect in the consumer’s mind. So you want to show that you take care of your business, like you’ll take care of whatever need they may have. Regularly pressure washing your parking facility is one small way to show that you care.

Concrete Sealing

Lastly, maintenance is everything. If you have a concrete structure or concrete pavement, concrete sealing is one way to help ensure the pavement lasts and your pressure washing jobs last longer, as a quality sealant can help prevent staining. When you own a business, it’s important to think about think about the customer’s experience from the moment they pull up to the moment they leave. If you need help making sure that first impression is a great one, contact us today!

New Website Launch

milwaukee pressure washing and concrete sealing

Wahlen Works has launched an all-new website! The company has released the new site in celebration of the complete rebrand of Wahlen Corp. Wahlen Works offer a variety of services focused around pressure washing, pavement marking, and concrete sealing throughout the Southeastern Wisconsin area. The project has been in long anticipation. Wahlen Corp. contracted local creative agency Concept Envy Advertising to complete the online transformation. The new website includes a complete redesign from head to toe. Customers can now easily find service-related content and gather the necessary information for upcoming projects, the latest Wahlen news, blog content, and upcoming events. The new web presence also provides useful features including an online chat, interactive live social feeds, and contact forms. To check out the new website and learn more about Wahlen Works head over to https://wahlenworks.com





(414) 771-0884