Proper Way to Power Wash Siding
Although siding is an excellent investment, enhancing the appearance of a home, some types of siding become dull and dingy over time. Most often, a person can keep siding looking brand new by washing it with mild soap and water. However, for harder stains, spots, or dirt build-up, you may need to consider renting a power washer.
With a power washer, water and detergent is sprayed out of a special nozzle onto the home but with force. While this might sound easy, the thing to remember is that a power washer is very powerful. Therefore, if not used properly, it can actually cause significant damage to the siding. However, if used the right way, a power washer will get rid of grime, dirt, and the chalk-like residue often seen on certain types of siding.
Keep in mind that the power washer nozzle must be moved back and forth. If left on one spot too long, you could easily remove any paint, erode wood, dislodge mortar from brick siding, and even cause dents. The good thing about a power washer is that it works on all types of siding to include brick, wood, vinyl, metal, and certain types of masonry. The only siding materials a power washer should never be used on are hardboard due to moisture and stucco, which would permanently damage the material.
Typically, a power washer can be rented from your local hardware store, home improvement store, or equipment-rental company. Although the price of a power washer would vary depending on the company, size, and even geographical location, most average from $50 to $75 a day, a great price considering how fast the cleaning job would go.
You will also find that a power washer comes in a number of options for psi (pounds per square inch). The choice for this would depend largely on the type of siding material being cleaned. As an example, if you would be washing off wood, steel, or aluminum siding, we suggest you stick with 1200 to 1500 psi. However, for vinyl siding or siding that does not have a painted surface, you could up the power to 2500 to 3000 range. Keep in mind that the higher the psi the faster the cleaning job will go.
For the best results, you would need to hand scrub off any mildew prior to using the power washer. Additionally, the best and most convenient power washer is one that has the capability of mixing the detergent into the spray. As far as amount of detergent versus water, typically you would use one pound of a non-phosphate substitute for every four gallons of water.
Most importantly, do not stand too close to the home and always use both hands when using the spray nozzle. If your home siding is on a tall structure, you would do best to rent an adjustable shaft instead of climbing a ladder, which would put you too close. Finally, make sure the siding is cleaned while keeping the spray of the water away from any type of wiring or electrical device.