Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding – Clean Siding With a Power Washer
Vinyl siding is a useful, resilient and durable building material. According to the US census bureau vinyl siding has been the leading exterior cladding since 1995. And no wonder, vinyl siding looks great, protects the building and is easy to install.
The vinyl siding institute has some very interesting articles on the benefits of vinyl siding. Let’s have a quick look at what they say. Vinyl siding benefits include:
Vinyl siding can withstand winds of at least 110 MPH.
Designed to withstand sunshine and rain.
Manufactured to resist impact damage.
- Heat resistant
Built to avoid shrinkage due to hot weather and direct sunlight.
With insulated vinyl siding products, your home will have extra energy-efficiency.
- Minimise damp penetration
By providing continuous moisture drainage, less moisture can penetrate your home.
- 99.5% UV protection
The UV-resistant layer provides almost total protection against UV rays. Keeping the colour of your siding crisp and sharp.
- Large selection of colours
With 400 certified colours, tested for colour retention, using scientific testing and comparison to ensure against colour fade.
The benefits of vinyl siding are clear for all to see, but it can become dirty and stained. Sadly air pollution, bird and insect mess, dirt and dust, mould and mildew can all detract from the colour and look of your vinyl siding. So it will need to be cleaned.
Does Pressure Washing Damage Vinyl Siding?
The direct answer is, yes pressure washing can damage vinyl siding, but only if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you doubt your abilities, then call in an expert, the average cost for hiring a power washing service is $270 with most homeowners spending between $218 and $310. If, however, you’re feeling confident, and want to save $300 then read on to learn the safe way to pressure wash vinyl siding.
When Shouldn’t You Pressure Wash Vinyl Siding?
There are certain conditions when you should not pressure wash your home’s vinyl siding. If your home was:
- Built pre-1970
If it has panels at the base of the house that looks like concrete, there’s a good chance they could be asbestos. Don’t disturb it at all until you get it checked out by an expert. Inhaling asbestos can cause serious lung damage and respiratory problems.
- Built pre-1978
If the house was built before 1978 and hasn’t been renovated, the exterior siding could contain lead paint. Using a pressure washer, or sander could cause danger to yourself and the environment. Again get it checked out by an expert before touching it.
Before Pressure Washing Your Vinyl Siding Do This First
Before you get the pressure washer all fired up and get blasting there are a few safety measures to deal with first. Most are common sense, but some might just surprise you. We can’t stress enough, all are necessary. Before pressure washing your vinyl siding you should always:
- Check siding for damage
Look for any cracks or tears in the siding and make good before applying any water to the area. Failure to do so could lead to serious damage and problems with damp.
- Protect yourself
Pressure washers are powerful tools. They can shred skin at fairly low pressure (1,160 PSi) always wear gloves, goggles, boots or closed-toe shoes, long sleeves and long trousers and a face mask.
- Cover electrical equipment
Any fuses, A/C units, power sockets, vents, intruder lights, alarm systems, or anything electrical should be covered with plastic sheeting to prevent water damage.
- Remove trip hazards
Your full concentration is going to be needed while power washing the siding, so remove any tools, toys, garden furniture, pot plants etc, so you don’t trip and do damage to yourself or your property.
- Protect any plants
Plants that cannot be moved because they are growing in the ground, should be covered with old cloths or plastic sheeting to protect them from blast damage. Also give the ground a thorough soaking before starting with the power washer, to dilute any detergent spillage or runoff.
- Be aware of children or pets
The power of that water force could seriously injure a child or a pet keep them under control, and be aware of where they are.
- Use the lowest pressure possible
By starting with low pressure you will get a feel for the machine, and not damage the siding in the process.
- Cover windows and doors
Protect any windows or doors in the vicinity by covering with plastic sheeting secured with builders tape.
Now we’ve dealt with the safety aspects, let’s get on with power washing.
Power Washer Or Pressure Washer?
We’re not going to go into too much detail here, just a quick run down to highlight the differences between the 2. Power washers use hot water, pressure washers use cold. Power washers tend to be more powerful than pressure washers. Most power washers are petrol or diesel (gas) operated, pressure washers tend to be powered by electricity. Pressure washers tend to weigh less and be less noisy too.
For washing vinyl siding, which is fairly delicate and easy to damage, an electric pressure washer is the safest option. Let’s look at how to wash the siding now.
How To Pressure Wash A Vinyl Siding
Having just given you all those warnings on the dangers of pressure washers, all of which are relevant, it’s now time to tell you not to be intimidated by the pressure washer. A few points to remember to keep the siding damage-free first. Always:
- Start with the lowest pressure possible
Sometimes low pressure is all you need, if you do need to increase the pressure slightly try moving closer to the siding this will increase the pressure. Equally to decrease the pressure just step back from the siding. Never use more than 1600 PSi on vinyl siding-1300 PSi should be sufficient.
- Insert a low power nozzle
Start by wetting the siding using the 40-degree (white) nozzle and if you need to increase (which is unlikely) go no higher than the 25-degree (green) nozzle.
- Hand wash stubborn stains
Before pressure washing if you notice mould or mildew stains mix a solution of bleach and water 10 to 1, 1 cup of bleach to 10 cups of water and scrub lightly with a hand brush. Allow this to soak into the mould for around 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.
- Use the correct detergent
Most pressure washer manufacturers have their own range of detergents designed to work in their machines. Choose the correct one for vinyl sidings and ensure it’s compatible with your pressure washer.
- Keep the water moving
Never concentrate on one area. Keep the nozzle moving constantly to avoid damaging the siding.
- Aim at an angle
The trick to never damaging a surface is to keep the water from hitting the surface head-on. Always adopt at least a 30-degree angle from the upright.
How To Clean Siding With A Pressure Washer In 6 Easy Steps
Follow our step by step guide to safely and easily clean your vinyl siding.
- Inspect the siding
Check for and repair any damage to the siding.
- Treat any mould
Using the bleach solution (above) deal with any stubborn mould and mildew stains.
- Apply detergent
Using the detergent (black) nozzle apply the detergent to the siding. Work in sections, we find 5 foot sections are easy to handle. Be sure to cover all surfaces.
- Allow the detergent to work
Give the detergent 10 to 15 minutes to really soak into that dirt and grime. Be sure to not let any area dry out during this time. That might mean reapplying in some areas.
- Disconnect the detergent hose
Remove the detergent nozzle and replace with the 40-degree (white) nozzle, detach the detergent hose, spray at the ground to remove all detergent from the system. Stand back to decrease the pressure
- Rinse thoroughly
Be sure to remove all of the detergent and debris from the siding, moving the nozzle constantly and spraying at an angle. Start at the top of the siding, but be careful not to spray at any vents, the eaves, windows, and electrical fittings. Work down to the bottom. Remember not to apply too much pressure and never concentrate on just one area.
If you are working on a two-storey house you might need an extending lance attachment or maybe a more powerful machine. But take care with using more power, vinyl isn’t the strongest material and can easily get damaged.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use a power washer on vinyl siding as long as you are careful not to damage it by using too high pressure.
Power washing is not bad for siding if it’s done correctly.
The correct PSi for vinyl siding is between 1300 and 1600 PSi.