Cleaning the exterior siding of your home is an important part of regular home maintenance. Over time, dirt, mildew, and grime can build up on siding, making it look dingy and worn. Pressure washing is an effective way to clean siding and restore its appearance. In this article, we’ll walk through the steps for pressure washing vinyl, wood, and other types of siding.
Assessing Your Siding
Before pressure washing, take some time to assess the current condition of your siding. Look for any areas that are cracked, peeling, or otherwise damaged. Pressure washing can remove loose paint and worsen existing problems with the siding. Make notes on areas to avoid or siding that may need patching or repainting after cleaning.
Check what type of siding you have. Common types include:
- Vinyl siding – The most popular today, vinyl is durable but can be damaged by high pressure.
- Wood siding – Requires a gentler wash, as high pressure can damage the wood.
- Fiber cement siding – More durable than wood and vinyl. Can withstand higher pressure washing.
- Brick or stone siding – Use moderate pressure and be careful around mortar joints.
- Aluminum or steel siding – Hold up very well to pressure washing.
Choose the right pressure and technique for your siding type. This will maximize cleaning while avoiding damage.
Pressure washing siding requires some specialized equipment. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pressure washer – Electric pressure washers around 1,500 psi are ideal for siding. Gas models over 2,000 psi may damage some sidings.
- Nozzle – A fan nozzle spreads out the pressure for broader cleaning. Use 40° nozzles or higher.
- Extension wand – Lets you reach up to wash second story siding. Look for wands 20 ft or longer.
- Cleaner – Use a siding cleaner safe for your type of siding. Avoid bleach solutions.
- Wide spray nozzle – For gently rinsing siding. Helps prevent streaking.
- Screens – To cover windows, vents, outlets and other openings. Prevent water getting inside.
- Drop cloths – To protect plants and surfaces from cleaning runoff.
- Scrub brush – For hand scrubbing heavily soiled areas before rinsing.
- Gloves & eye protection – For safety when pressure washing.
Prepare the Siding
Proper prep is key to safe, effective pressure washing results:
- Clean gutters & downspouts – Ensures wash water can drain away. Clogged gutters can overflow.
- Install screens – Covers windows, vents, outlets to keep overspray out.
- Sweep siding – Use a broom to clear away loose dirt and debris first.
- Remove outlet covers – Prevent water damage by taking off exterior outlet covers.
- Set up drop cloths – Protect vegetation and surfaces from cleaning runoff.
- Pre-soak stained areas – Heavily soiled spots may need soaking with cleaner first.
Taking time to properly prepare the area will make washing go smoother and prevent issues.
Pressure Wash Siding
When everything is prepped, it’s time to start power washing:
- Use cool water – Heated water can damage some sidings. Stick to tap temperature.
- Start at top & work down – Less streaking and dripping on cleaned lower sections.
- Keep tip 12-18 inches away – The ideal distance for cleaning without damage.
- Use side-to-side motion – This fan pattern provides complete coverage.
- Overlap strokes – Each pass should overlap the previous by a few inches.
- Take your time – No need to rush through. Thorough cleaning avoids streaks.
- Check for missed spots – Look over each section before moving down. Re-wash if needed.
- Apply cleaners carefully – Only on recommended surfaces. Rinse off completely.
Follow these pressure washing tips as you thoroughly clean the siding from top to bottom. Avoid applying too much pressure, which can lead to damage.
Extra Care for Sensitive Sidings
Some siding materials require extra precautions:
- Wood – Use maximum 500-800 psi. Pre-wet and work boards to avoid damage.
- Vinyl – Limit pressure to 700-1,200 psi. Use a wide-spray nozzle for gentler rinsing.
- Brick – Keep nozzle at least 18 inches away. Be careful around mortar joints.
- Fiber cement – May require light scrubbing with a soft brush for stubborn stains. Rinse thoroughly.
- Cedar shakes & shingles – Wash gently to avoid roughening the surface. Limit pressure to 500 psi.
Test sensitive sidings first before full washing. Check for damage and reduce pressure if needed. A light touch prevents harm.
As you complete washing the final sections of siding, there are a few last steps:
- Rinse everything thoroughly – Remove all cleaner residue completely.
- Check for streaks or missed spots – Re-wash if needed before things dry.
- Replace outlet covers & screens – Reverse prep steps to restore normal condition.
- Hose off vegetation – Rinse away any cleaning overspray on plants.
- Allow siding to dry completely – May take a full day before it’s ready for other work.
- Inspect for damage – Look for any cracking or other harm, and make repairs.
- Apply protectants if needed – For wood or certain other siding types, use formulated sealants.
Taking time for proper post-wash cleanup and inspection ensures the siding is looking its best.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
Even when carefully pressure washed, some problems can arise:
- Allow more overlap and gentler rinsing on a second wash.
Damaged caulk or paint
- Re-caulk any gaps. Spot touch up paint as needed.
- Increase cleaner strength. Agitate with brush before washing.
- Check for gaps around fixtures. Re-caulk as needed.
- Redo any damaged sections. Consider replacing with more durable siding.
- Allow extra time for drying. Increase airflow with fans.
Catching and fixing any problems keeps the siding looking like new longer.
Maintaining Fresh Siding
To keep your siding clean and prevent future buildup:
- Wash siding annually – Regular pressure washing helps reduce grime.
- Inspect for damage – Check for any cracked, warped or deteriorating spots. Make timely repairs.
- Prune back vegetation – Keep trees and bushes from rubbing on siding surfaces.
- Use mold inhibitors – Applying these can help slow mildew regrowth.
- Direct drainage away – Ensure downspouts and grading keep moisture from siding.
- Consider siding protectants – Breathable sealers add extra staining protection.
With proper care and regular cleaning, your siding can stay looking like new for many years. Avoiding excess moisture and damage are key to longevity.
Pressure washing is an extremely useful technique for reviving the appearance of weathered, dirty siding. By following these guidelines, you can tackle cleaning your siding safely and achieve professional-looking results. Just take your time and use the proper pressure level for the siding type. With the right preparation and method, you can spruce up the exterior of your home.
If you need professional pressure washing for your siding around Dawsonville GA and nearby areas, contact Sullins Suds Pressure Washing today!