Power washing (also called pressure washing) is defined as using a machine, wand and water to spray surfaces with high pressured H2O and sometimes chemicals to clean areas.
This is an imperative first step when preparing to paint or stain any part of a home. If a proper cleaning is not completed prior to painting, the new paint won’t stick to the surface and the new paint usually will peel off in big chunks and/or small flakes.
Power Washing Overview
Power washing cleans and prepares surfaces that will be painted by removing dirt, mold, mildew, pollutants, pollen and dust. Power washing also removes most chalking that may have taken place. Chalking is the naturally occurring breakdown of the paints skin surface from sunlight ultraviolet rays.
Using the right pressure washing machine will ensure the perfect preparation for exterior painting projects. The right amount of pressure will clean any surface, including wood, without causing damage. Also, using the proper nozzle will keep the appropriate angle and fan trajectory of water for each different surface. Experienced painting and power washing contractors will be able to prevent wand marks (or etching of the surface), which can be caused by too much pressure applied at the wrong angle.
Power Washing the Exterior
Often, a homes exterior will have dirt, mold, mildew, pollutants, pollen and dust; these all need to be removed prior to applying 2 coats of quality paint.
Cobwebs will be naturally present in the corners of many homes; most cobwebs and wasp nests will be washed away during the power wash, but some may stick and it is the job of a good painter to remove them by hand before later applying paint.
Paint chips will literally fly off the home while being power washed; however, a power wash will not remove all chips or peeling. Using too much pressure or applying pressure too close to the surface may result in unnecessary damage. The removed paint chips on the ground can be removed by hand once dry, by the painter. Also, a good painter will walk around your property to clean up any paint chips that may have landed around the homes yard, roof, landscaping and mulch beds during the power wash.
Stains are a tricky thing to try and power wash away. Simply put, power washing will not remove all stains around the home. Some stains are actually discolorations from years of weathering and will still be around even after a good power wash. After the proper preparation and two coats of fresh paint, the house will look great and fresh with any lingering stains covered and forgotten.
Power Washing Decks and Fences
Decks and fences are often prime candidates for power washing; and both stand to benefit from the cleaning. Decks can be power washed with bleach or deck brightener to penetrate the wood fibers. This will wash away old stain and brighten up grey wood fibers caused by foot traffic, sun and sitting rain water. Fences often have mildew on the surface that is caused by being a soft wood, and being so close to the ground and vegetation. Power washing will help remove these types of mildews and rejuvenate the look of any wood.
Some of the most common and best chemicals to use while washing the exterior of a home is water, bleach and tri-sodium phosphate. Other specialty chemicals do exist, but for the average project preparation, this will get the job done right. Many of the chemicals are organic which prevents harm to plants, lawns, flowers, and landscaping. The bleach is so heavily diluted with water; that the power wash should be like a spring rain storm to the shrubs and landscaping.
The time it takes for a home to dry after a power wash varies greatly on the humidity, rain and temperature. Usually, most homes can be painted within one day after power washing; although, the person who quotes the painting project, should walk the homeowner through a time table for the project.
Power Washing without Painting
For relatively low cost, a home’s exterior can be power washed to easily remove dirt and mildew. This cleaning will actually extend the life of an exterior paint job. Often, customers think their home needs a new coat of paint, when a simple power wash will give them the same desired result and add life to the current paint job. An honest and experienced painting contractor will inform the homeowner of this mistake instead of having them spend money on unnecessary work.
Power washing should always be included with a turnkey painting price quote. Any painter who does not instinctively want to power wash a home prior to painting, is not taking the necessary steps to ensure the paint sticks and lasts a long time.
Receiving the proper preparation and power wash (pressure wash) prior to an exterior paint job is essential to the life of the paint job. The information outlined above is a great reference to maintaining the look of the exterior. The process should be simple with the choice of an informed, professional, residential paint contractor.