THE DO'S AND DON'T'S OF POWER WASHING YOUR HOMES OUTDOOR SURFACES
Cleaning up the outside surfaces is a great way to freshen up your home. Power washing seems like a simple way to accomplish that task. But potential and pricey damage can be done by a power washer combined with inexperienced person! Read our precautionary measures before you rent a power washer, crank it up to high pressure and stick that wand 3 inches from the surface of your house.
When To Use A Power Washer
The first thing to know is what exactly a power washer - also known as a pressure washer - is good for. A power washer is intended as a cleaning, knock the dust-off kind of tool. It Is not intended to take the place of sanding, scraping or stripping.
With that in mind let's take a look at best practices for cleaning the outside of your home. Whether you have a stucco or brick home, a thorough power washing can do a nice job of knocking the years' worth of dust off of the wall and out of the nooks and crannies.
Paint or Brick Exterior
For a brick home | Patch cracks and holes in the brick or mortar and let dry before you wash the wall.
For a stucco home | Fill fine cracks with texturized caulk and let dry first.
- Cover nearby furniture and plants before spraying. Avoid spraying windows.
- Set the pressure washer to 1000 psi or less and use a 40-degree fan tip nozzle.
- Hold the wand 15-18" from the surface. Holding the wand closer is NOT better!
- Test the pressure on a small area of the house that's hidden behind a bush or other feature.
- Watch closely as you test. Do you see any flying chunks of plaster or mortar? If so, STOP! Reset pressure to lower setting and increase the distance between your wand and the wall.
- To avoid streaking, wash the wall from the bottom up, not from the top down.
- In most cases detergent is not necessary. If there is some kind of buildup, like sap from a tree, then detergent may be helpful.
Wood facias or other wood surfaces should not be power washed. Use a garden hose with a nozzle and give a quick spray to knock off dust.
NOTE: If you are power washing before painting be sure to allow all surfaces to dry completely before painting.
Exterior window screens and pulldown exterior shades loose visibility when the screen cloth gets clogged after one of our infamous dust storms.
To clean screens:
- Remove and secure window screens.
- Tie down exterior screens.
- Set the power washer at 1000 PSI or lower. Holding the wand about 15 inches away, move the wand up and down and then follow up with a back and forth movement
- Let screens dry and then wipe them down with a good UV protectant. We like Aerospace Protectant 303.
- NOTE: Always test new products on a small area to make sure you like the results.
It is a common mistake to assume that a good power washing of pavers couldn't hurt. But, Nathan Angel, of Rosie on the House Certified Oldcastle Superlite, says, "we really only like power washing in the hands of professionals on pavers since people could still etch the surface with the wand". Angel recommends against using soap on the pavers as well. He says, "a good professional power washing with hot water should eliminate the need for soap and chemicals".
For homeowners, Angel recommends the Whisper Wand as it works in a circular motion and does not etch the pavers. The Whisper Washer base covers more ground at a time than the wand of a power washer and it minimizes overspray.
Start with the 1000 PSI setting. It might seem that concrete is strong enough to stand up to a higher pressure setting, but that is not always the case. It is possible to spray the top layer right off of your concrete leaving the sand and aggregate exposed and vulnerable to disintegration. As with other surfaces, the wand of a power washer can leave streaks on concrete as well.
Home Maintenance To-Do: #PowerWash #PressureWash