Is the Paint On Your House Starting to Show Its Age?
The paint on the house we bought last year was dirty, chalky, and faded. The stucco had some hairline cracks that needed sealing. It just needed a good, old-fashioned facelift. We decided to hire Pro Tool Reviews contributor and Painter extraordinaire Jeff Kennedy and his crew. In the mix, he promised to teach us how to maintain your house paint with a pressure washer.
For several days, the guys cleaned, sealed, and painted our home and the result was stunning. Of course, I want the paint to maintain that new look. Jeff suggested that I gently pressure wash my house annually with a mild detergent to keep it looking as young as possible. I recently used the Simpson Megashot 3200 PSI Pressure Washer and Surface Cleaner to scrub my pavers and driveway and it’s also the right tool for cleaning our home’s exterior.
Table of Contents
Why You Need to Maintain Your House Paint with a Pressure Washer
The sun, dust/dirt, wind, rain and sprinkler water, mold and mildew, and snow/sleet – all conspirators against your house paint. But knowing the crud that you’re up against is only half the battle. You need to survey your home to ensure you can complete the job safely – for both yourself and your property (and don’t be afraid to call a Pro):
- Is it possible that the paint job is so old that it contains lead? No bueno – don’t pressure wash lead paint. This job’s for the Pros.
- Look for any cracks or peeling paint and repair these areas first.
- Be sure to cover any vents or electrical outlets.
- Know where your electrical service approaches and enters the house – be sure you’ll stay far away from it with both the water and the wand.
- If you have more than one story to clean, consider an extension wand – pressure washing on a ladder is a recipe for a trip to the ER.
- Choose the appropriate detergent for your home’s exterior surface.
A Few Important Notes from Simpson
- Rinsing off your plants first may keep them from absorbing anything harmful in the detergent
- Some detergents are concentrated and must be diluted first – be sure to read the label
- Don’t let detergents dry on your house and avoid using them in direct sunlight
Author’s Note: I’m going to use some diluted dish soap (without extra detergents) which will not only keep my plants out of harm’s way but may have the added benefit of driving away pests.
Prep Your Pressure Washer for the Task
Hook up your pressure washer just as you would if you’d be cleaning a driveway or sidewalk, consulting the manual if necessary. Also, here’s a friendly reminder to check the engine oil level. Then make the special preparations for this job:
- Select the soap tip and insert it into the wand. Pressure washer tips are made with a spectrum of orifice sizes that constrain the water fan they emit. As you might imagine, as the orifices become smaller, the fan becomes more concentrated and the pressure (and danger to people and property) much higher. Common tips are 0°, 15°, 25°, 40°, and Soap.
- Attach the siphon hose to the pressure washer and put the filter end into the appropriate detergent
Continue to Maintain Your House Paint with a Pressure Washer
Not only do you want to break out the pressure washer and use it to maintain your house paint. You want to get this into your annual schedule to keep that house paint looking great for as long as possible. Let it go for several years and you may end up creating a whole lot of work for yourself.
The steps to using a pressure washer to maintain the paint on your home aren’t complicated:
- Fire up your pressure washer and spray your home from low to high
- The folks at Simpson are certainly the experts, and to rinse they recommend inserting a slightly more aggressive tip. I’d give the soap tip another chance with the siphon removed from the detergent so clean water flows through first. You may need a more aggressive tip on heavy dirt, but you must be very careful. In any event, rinse from high to low.
- Enjoy your shiny home!