How To Power Wash Your House
Power washing your House can be done with a few home cleaning products and a rented high-pressure power washer. We will walk you through all the do’s and don’ts on how to pressure wash a house before painting or simply to clean your siding.
Get more than 15 years of free advice from our professional residential pressure washing team on knowing when is your home ready to be power washed.
Should You Power Wash Yet?
If you want to know how to pressure wash your house because you’re looking to paint it, read over this section first…
Just because the outside of your home might not look dirty and the paint is still not starting peel off, does not mean it is ready to be painted. It is very important to follow these 2 steps before proceeding to spray any coat of paint onto your house.
Pass your hand through the siding, walls, and any painted surface you are trying to clean. To keep your hands from getting all covered in chalk, we recommend wearing any pair of gardening gloves.
If in the process of doing this you see a powdery feel residue, then you have chalking that needs some pressurizing. Pressure cleaning the surface will scour it off and leave a clean siding (surface) for that new fresh coat of paint.
Do a quick inspection of the exterior surfaces of your residential property you are looking to power wash. (Siding, driveway, and walls)
What you are looking to find is any rotten wooden boards which may need some re-nailing. You do not want water leaking through your house’s siding while you are pressure washing your home. Make sure to mask and repair any cracks or openings in your home’s facade.
BENEFITS OF USING A PRESSURE WASHER
Using a pressure washer cuts straight to the point, not needing to use a cleanser detergent. (TSP or non-phosphate substitute). These cleaning solutions are needed when washing your home by hand.
Depending on which pressure washer you own( or rent ) it can push out up to 5,000 PSI of water pressure. That is enough power to slice your skin open if you are not careful.
Pressure cleaning excels at blowing away any dirt, mold & mildew, and chalking (this comes from deteriorated oil and latex from the paint used on your house)
So if you find any of these elements on your property, rub the paint surface to check for chalking, if it doesn’t chalk then the power washing is optional. Now, we offer our paint preparation services because all professional painters will not paint over old paint because there is a chance the paint will not adhere well to the houses surfaces.
Adding bleach to it quickly identifies mildew; it looks like a dirty blackened area. If the black spots go away when you add the bleach, then you have a mildew problem. Pressure washing vinyl siding with bleach in most cases makes the mildew and algae go away for good. Just make sure you first scrub the affected area with a mixture of 9 to 1 water & bleach. This will serve as a test, if the bleach does not do anything to the black spots, then you simply have dirt. Use a pressure washer to wash away all the dirt and grime.
No. Pressure washing vinyl siding mildew will not stop it from growing back. It is good to wash the majority of it off, but the mildew will grow back in no time.
ATTENTION: Even though this high-pressure washes will scour off loose and old paint, we do not suggest using it as a paint removal tool. You run a chance that the pressure washer will gouge the wood siding or even worst, knock the mortar from between bricks. If you’re interested in power washing brick to remove paint, learn how to pressure wash a brick house correctly.
Many inexperienced homeowners feel it will save them time but in reality, it won’t. You will still have to manually scrape off the additional remaining paint, not saving you much time.
CAUTION: If your house was built anytime before 1978 you could have exterior paint on it that contains lead. Paint containing lead was banned after 1978 and all new construction used water-based or latex paint. Make sure to get a sample of it tested before trying to power wash your house. Pressure washing is not the method to use for paint preparation of a home with lead-based paint. We strongly suggest you contact Miami-Dade Health Department for instructions on how to safely handle the removal of the paint.
Best surfaces to use pressure washing are on vinyl, wood, masonry, and aluminum siding.
It is not recommended by anyone of our team to use on hardboard siding. Hardboard is the most vulnerable surface to the water pressure. More so than wood, it can easily be gouged and very difficult to repair.
Picking the Best Nozzles to Clean
In case you were not aware, commercial pressure washers come with different nozzles that are placed at the end of your water spray gun. If you are familiar with a garden hose nozzle, it is kind of the same concept.
These nozzles create different spray patterns to your guns wand. Depending on the degree of nozzle you add to the wand the pressure will create the water to come out with different widths. Attach a 15 or 25-degree nozzle for any typical paint cleaning and preparation.
Always test the nozzle on a small area to make sure you added the right nozzle so you are not covering too many square feet of pressure washing at once. Either one of these angle nozzles should clean all the dirt or chalk build-up you might have while leaving the siding undamaged. Pass a clean rag to make sure you got all the chalk. If there is still some residue left on the surface, try a nozzle tip with a narrower pattern.
** Stay away from the zero degrees nozzle because it is too powerful and any inexperienced individual will quickly damage any wood, stucco, or similar surface. Leave those heavy-duty jobs to a professional pressure cleaning service.
FUN FACT: If you do not secure the nozzle tip correctly onto the spray gun, you might just shoot it through your home’s window!
FEW TECHNIQUES TO PRESSURE WASHING
If it is your first time behind a pressure washing spray gun, we recommend you practice first by pressure washing your driveway. You must be comfortable with the wand and understand the power behind the PSI of the high-pressure washer you are using.
Luckily for you, if you have a concrete driveway you cannot do much harm to it, other than blow some black stains away. So practice all the spray patterns and techniques we will go over in the next few paragraphs.
The first tip on handling the spray gun is to use both hands so your arms do not fatigue and you have more control over where you are spraying water.
More useful tips:
- Do not aim and shoot the water directly at cracks or opening, especially when aiming upwards. When you are cleaning the underside of the roof (under soffits) you can easily get some water into it.
- Try to always point the wand downwards angle, only point upwards when in a controlled manner. It is hard to see past the water when you point it upwards so you might be straying the wrong area on your home.
- Try not to use a pressure washer while standing up on a ladder. Believe it or not, the high-pressure will throw you back a bit and can make you loose your balance if not use to pressure washing around the house.
- Never wet lights or outlets you might have around the exterior walls, with that amount of pressure you can cause water to create a short circuit or burn them out.
WARNING: The wand on your power washer is pure metal and is recommended you keep it at least 6 feet away from any electrical wires located around your property. You are septic to getting shocked if you touch directly, or in some extreme cases by static build up.
- When stripping paint off wood be careful to not gouge it. This will cause you to need to patch up the wood and that is a very difficult tedious task that will take away a lot of time from your afternoon.
- Let your house dry with at least 5 to 7 days of good South Florida sun before painting your house. Water gets into the pours
Tools and Supplies Needed
Key to success and time efficiency on this DIY project is to make sure you have the needed tools and materials at hand. Besides the obvious tools needed (pressure washer & garden hose), below is a short list of recommended tools and supplies.
- Household bucket or large stovetop pot
- Extension power cord
- Clean rags & old clothes
- Paint Scraper or spatula
- Safety Gear (eye protection, ear muffs, sturdy ladder, rope)
ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO KEEP IN MIND
- Pressure washer soap
- Bleach – Alternative: homemade vinyl siding cleaning solution
With 2 and 3 story housing, some areas might not be too high to reach with your pressure washer (even if you add an extension to your wand). Grab the same scrubber brush you used to scrub the mildew and some power wash house soap.
Use our pressure washer soap recipe to make your solution or buy a commercial grade detergent. Check out the best vinyl siding cleaner reviews.
Like mister Miyagi would say, “wax on wax off”. Get the hang of the wand by washing small low areas of your home. (siding, driveway, sidewalks, decks, etc.) Use both hands on the wand to make steady strokes from side to side. Don’t go too fast so you the water pressure can do its job and get the dirt and mildew out along with any chalking you might have.
To find the most optimal cleaning distance, start by putting your wand 2 feet from the surface area you are cleaning. Washing housing is all a case by case and you might need to get closer or further away depending on the surface you are working on. DO NOT hold the nozzle too close to wood or delicate surfaces in a particular spot for sustained amount of time. We know gouging is inevitable if trying to remove paint from your home’s exterior, but the less area you need to patch up with wood putty, the less headache you will have to deal with to be able to repaint.
Rule of thumb: Work in downward angles to avoid pushing water under any siding or boards.
Start at the top of the siding of your housing and work your way down. This will not only help you avoid getting water into the vents on your roof but also cause the grime to slide downwards towards the grass. For anyone in Miami, remove your window screens so you do not ripe them open and allow mosquitos into your living area.
If you are clumsy or not frequently active we suggest you put an adjustable extension to your wand, 6 to 12 foot extension is sufficed. It is a safer option to getting up on a ladder, although it might get your muscles working a bit more.
The amount of pressure coming from any commercial pressure washers will drive water into the grooves and holes in a window, potentially cracking the glass. Point the stream of water at an angle and at a further distance when cleaning windows.
Pressure cleaning is the first step to getting most of the loose paint removed, but scraping is a necessity. There is no way around that if you want to acquire a clean surface area before you paint.
We hope this DIY on how to power wash your house was helpful. If you have any other questions or feel like this might be a task you can’t finish, reach out to us and we will get you a quote within minutes most of the time. If the job is not too complicated we can price you over the phone, if not we will send one of our techs out to the job site free of charge.