Pressure Washing Siding – Not Without Risks


Pressure washing siding is a common prescription to stains and dirt from winter exposure. And it works well on hundreds of homes in Madison WI. However, aiming a high-pressure stream of water at your siding is not always the best idea. Pressure washers are used for chores ranging from washing cars to blasting paint off old wood. Misdirected they will remove a layer of concrete from your sidewalk or the stain on your deck. Directed at any soft surface, they’re likely to do more harm than good.

Pressure Washing Siding | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors & Remodeling
Like the difference from night to day, pressure washing siding can make a home look new again.

Siding appears to be a hard surface, right? It’s not as hard as you think. Especially vinyl siding. Done incorrectly, high-pressure washing can damage vinyl siding. And, since vinyl is the No. 1 choice for new and replacement siding, protecting it is important.

Before Pressure Washing Siding

Before you hook up the hose and fire up the pressure washer, review the potential risks to your home and surroundings. Your pre-wash checklist should include:

  • Inspect every inch – look for cracks and other extra wear. Now’s the time to identify areas that need extra attention. Look for bird droppings, mold, mildew and algae growth.
  • Eye protection – make sure you have eye protection. Water hitting the siding at high pressure bounces off at high pressure, too. Carrying with it dirt and debris.
  • Wear a mask – the fine spray coming off the house carries mold spores as well as dirt and debris you do not want in your lungs.
  • Overall protection – if you’re using a detergent or cleaning agent protect exposed skin. Some of these products contain bleach that is hazardous. Take time to protect nearby plants from overspray, too.

A detailed inspection ahead of time saves time and washing materials. Better to know what you’re up against before you start. Which side of the house gets more intense sun than others/ More sunlight adds its own stress to vinyl. If the surface looks “chalky” use lower pressure to avoid damage. Areas with less sun exposure hold moisture longer so that’s where mold, mildew and algae are most common.

Pay close attention to seams and where siding meets with door and window frames. Don’t overlook where utilities enter the house. These are where water under pressure is forced in. caulk or repair and gaps. You want to make the house look better, not add another problem, right?

Tips For Power Washing The House

There are pressure washers and there are high-pressure washers. If all you need it a clean house you’d don’t need the highest of high-pressure performance. Homeowner sized washers range from about 1,000 to 1,600 psi (pounds of pressure per square inch).

Pressure Washing Siding | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors & Remodeling
When you’re washing siding, take care with windows, too. Avoid hitting screens and joints with high-pressure blasts. Consider a special window-wash solution to avoid steaks.

No matter what size unit you’re using, always start with the low pressure settings and increase if you need to. The spray wand adjustment makes a difference, too. A tight, jet stream blasts off dirt, a wide fan-shaped spray rinses and cleans. Some machines have color-coded nozzles to make choosing easier.

The crews that make a living power washing structure suggest;

  • Never spray upwards – high pressure sprays at an upward angle easily force water underneath vinyl siding were it won’t dry. Water under siding leads to serious moisture problems in the future.
  • Spray from the side – avoid spraying straight onto siding. That concentrates the force and also means much more spray bouncing back right at you.
  • Remember 45-degrees – aim the spray at a 45-degree angle to the siding so dirt, debris and dirty water moves away from you.
  • Scrub – there are some stains that need old-fashioned scrubbing with a stiff-bristle brush. Like cleaning pots in the sink, scrub and rinse.
  • Rinse – before moving on to another section, rinse the wall. Dirty water from upper levels can drip down and leave a dirty film. Rinse with clean water – especially if you’ve used a washing product.

OK, the rule is ‘never spray up,’ but how do you reach the peak of the roof or the side of a two-story house? There are two quick answers: use a long ladder, and bring in a professional team. Calling on professionals is the safest, most reliable answer. Don’t spray up from the ground.

Benefits Of Pressure Washing Siding

The obvious benefit of a siding wash is restoring your home to its best, brightest appearance. Curb appeal is everything these days and a clean, scrubbed house makes homeowners feel good.

In addition, ridding the siding of dirt, debris and biological agents like algae and mold increases its lifespan. Preparing for the power washing job also gives you a chance to inspect for damage or excessive wear. Taking on the cleaning task is a way to protect your family’s most important investment. Knowing t the products surrounding your home are solid, secure and safe is worth the time and effort, right? After a typical Wisconsin winter and spring local homes are showing the effects of wind-blown dirt and grime. Ugly green stains show up on the north-facing walls where moisture hides from the warming sunshine. When you’re home needs a new, bright exterior applying a pressure washing is a great first step. If your inspection turns up damaged, aged or faded vinyl siding, we’re ready to make your home look like new.

Sims Exteriors & Remodeling has decades of experience related to siding, roofing and replacement windows in the Madison area. Call 608-825-4500, or email us when replacing or power washing siding on your Madison WI home is in your future plans.

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