Pressure washing house exteriors conjures up varying opinions. It can be an excellent tool for certain surfaces but can do more harm than good to a home’s exterior. Houses can withstand a variety of weather conditions, but they were not designed to have high-pressurized water shot at them.
It takes little water pressure to inflict aesthetic damage to wood, such as lines and gouges, and furring of the grain as well as cracking, chipping, and splintering. It’s not only wood surfaces that are vulnerable, high-pressure water can cause window seals to break and brick mortar to loosen.
If you’re pressure washing your house solely for cleaning and not to prepare for painting, extreme care must be taken to avoid removing any paint. Beyond that, the finish may develop marring and areas of variable sheen. This will be an unsightly appearance that will remain until the house is repainted.
Even more concerning is the damage that may not be immediately apparent. Water can get up into your soffits or seep behind your siding. Anywhere a house has gaps is a potential entry point for high-pressure water to work its way in, Once it’s in the wall cavity it can be difficult for it to evaporate.
The siding below is made up of stained cedar shingles. This example of very soft wood can easily be damaged with a pressure washer set too high or brought too close.
How To Clean James Hardie Siding And Related Products?
Just like wood, the finish on Hardie Board siding can end up with marring and all kinds of irregularities from pressure washing. Furthermore, the company itself does not recommend pressure washing its products. Their website has suggested methods for cleaning Hardie Board siding. It states not to use a pressure washer, but only the low pressure of a garden hose and a soft to medium (non-metal) bristle brush as the best way to remove dirt and debris.
Never Pressure Wash A House That Has Lead Paint
It’s never a good idea to pressure wash a house that has lead paint, even if it’s buried deep in past layers. You don’t want to run the risk of lead paint chips getting spread throughout your yard and contaminating the soil. It will continue to pose a threat to your family and any future owners.
What Is The Best DIY Way To Clean A House Exterior?
If you’re doing it yourself, the best approach to cleaning a house exterior is with the use of an extension pole fitted with a medium stiffness scrub brush and a garden hose with a spray nozzle. Don’t use any kind of course brushes or scouring sponges. While it will take more time than a pressure washer, it’s a more effective way of cleaning and is much safer.
Water and the agitation of a scrub brush may be all you need for routine cleaning maintenance of dust and dirt. Extensive residue can be taken care of with a mild dishwashing soap or an all-purpose cleaner diluted in warm water. Avoid any abrasive cleaners.
If mold or mildew are present there are mildew-specific cleaners available. Thoroughly read the instructions for use, some products can be harmful to your plants and grass. Wetting the landscape around your house may be required before use. If you have pets check that the product is safe to use.
Hire A Professional House Cleaning Company To Get The Job Done Effectively And Efficiently
If cleaning your own house seems like too daunting of a task you can hire a professional house cleaning company. The majority of these businesses have a low-pressure washing system, otherwise known as a “soft wash”. They use low-pressure extension wands to apply a cleaning solution from a truck-mounted tank. The debris and dirt are scrubbed before being rinsed away. In some cases, they may employ the proper management of a low psi pressure washer. Reputable companies will ensure water does not get behind your siding.
Pressure Washing Does Not Kill Mold, Mildew And Algae
Pressure washing alone does not kill mold, mildew, and algae. It just detaches it from the house and spreads it around the surface where it can regrow. Furthermore, with areas of accumulated mold or mildew, there is a tendency to increase the pressure or get closer to the surface. This increases the chance of inflicting damage to the house exterior. To kill spores the surface needs to have an appropriate cleaner applied and be agitated before rinsing.
What Surfaces Are Appropriate For Pressure Washing?
Pressure washing can be an effective cleaning tool when used at lower pressures to clean decking and at medium to high pressure for patios, pavers, sidewalks, and driveways. When cleaning these kinds of surfaces, caution must still be exercised. Decking can be harmed with too much pressure and concrete and asphalt can suffer from pitting and surface degradation, as well as having pieces blasted away, particularly at the edges and seams.
Care needs to be taken when pressure washing driveways, patios, and sidewalks near the house. Bits of debris or rocks can get shot at it and cause paint chipping. How do we know this? We’ve been the paint company that’s been hired by the homeowners to fix the damage, usually an overhead garage door. The bill was picked up by the pressure washing company of course.
Is It A Good Idea To Pressure Wash A House To Prepare It For Painting?
Pressure washing is a common method of preparing a house for painting. The goal of trying to blast off loose paint is where a lot of damage can occur. It’s certainly an effective method of paint removal, but it’s a fine line between that and causing damage to the surface. If water gets in behind the siding and then the house is painted and caulked shortly thereafter, it could further seal in the moisture.
If any type of surface on your property is being pressure washed make sure the individual doing it is experienced and knows how to handle the machine. The pressure washer is only as effective as the person using it. An unskilled person can easily cause a lot of damage.