Should I Pressure Wash My House Before Painting?

Restoring the exterior of your home with paint can make it look brand new again. But there are many questions that can arise before the job even begins. Have you ever asked yourself: Should I pressure wash my house before painting?

The answer is quite simple and we will talk about the two main reasons why it’s important to pressure wash below.

Yes, you absolutely should pressure wash the exterior of your house before applying paint. It’s critical to remove all of the dirt, mold, and mildew that has been sitting on the siding.

This will ensure that you are working with a clean surface and makes the finish look better. Plus, the results will last much longer.

Helps Clean the Surface

It doesn’t matter what type of project you’re about to take on, cleaning should always be the first step. Have you ever tried to wax your car before washing it? Probably not.

It would look very sloppy and the wax would end up sticking to all of the dirt sitting on your car. This same rule applies when it comes to pressure washing a house.

It’s important to create a clean working area, so the paint can bond to the surface. Even if your house looks clean, examining it up close might tell a different story.

Oftentimes mold and mildew can develop in areas that don’t see that much daylight. You will need to remove this if you want the paint to successful bond to the siding.

Spiderwebs and Fresh Paint

Other areas that might cause problems are inside corners of the exterior. This is where spiderwebs are most likely to develop. If you’ve ever painted over an area like this you know how annoying it can be.

You need to wipe down the area just painted and go over it again to fix it. The web also gets tangles in the brush so you’ll need to clean it, or get a new one.

The worst part is that you might even encounter this problem after you have visually checked the siding. That’s why it’s so important to clean the area with high amounts of water pressure first.

Pressure Washing Before Painting Produces Lasting Results

Pressure washing your house before painting will also guarantee lasting results. This benefit goes hand-in-hand with working on a clean surface, because the paint will achieve a stronger bond.

At the end of the day, why skip this crucial cleaning step in order to save some time? Spend a little longer to get the job done right. Applying high amounts of water pressure also helps remove cracking, or peeling paint from the wood.

This type of wear is normal but a pressure washer can help fix these areas of deterioration. It can also save time in the long run, as you won’t need to scrape the exterior before painting. This is most common on houses with wooden clapboards.

All Materials are Different

Houses come in all different shapes, sizes and material types. We just covered how pressure washing can help on painted clapboards, but you might have vinyl, or stucco siding instead.

It’s important to use the correct amount of water pressure depending on the material type. Generally speaking, vinyl can withstand more water pressure compared to stucco.

So, it’s important to test different nozzle attachments when you’re just starting this project. Always begin with a less aggressive nozzle to avoid causing any damage to the exterior.

How to Pressure Wash Before Painting

  1. Before starting it helps to clean your work area around the house. Move any cars that might get in your way in the garage, or on the street. It also helps to put away any lawn furniture, outdoor tools, and children’s toys. The last thing you need is for something to get in your way during the cleaning process.
  2. Next you will want to gather up the pressure washer, hoses, bleach, and other equipment. The biggest problem people encounter when washing their house is that they are lacking enough extension cords, or hoses. You don’t want to start the job only to have it cut short by needing more of the necessary tools.
  3. Begin pressure washing from the second story down. For single story homes, the same rule applies (top to bottom). This is the most efficient way of cleaning, as water will work with gravity to pull all of the dirt and grime down to the bottom. Make sure to avoid dirty water passing over areas that have already been cleaned.
  4. Don’t forget the windows. It’s common for dirt to build up in the window panes and window trim. You should wash these areas as you continue down the house. And don’t worry about the pressure washer on glass. These areas can be safely cleaned with a 40-degree, or soap attachment nozzle.
  5. Follow a consistent spray pattern as you work your way down the exterior. Avoid random and sporadic movements that will leave unwanted marks on the house. It also helps to walk with the pressure washer and don’t just stand in one place. This method will create the most even flow across all surfaces of the exterior.

When You Shouldn’t Pressure Wash

There are a handful of reasons why you might not need to pressure wash your house before painting. Houses that are in direct sunlight, exteriors with fragile materials, or newer houses that only require a touch up can skip this step.

And if your home has wooden clapboards you might only need to scrape the old paint off, before applying a new layer.

Direct Sunlight

If you live in an area with a lot of sun, pressure washing your house might not be necessary. That doesn’t mean the exterior won’t get dirty, but it probably won’t be as bad as a house with high humidity in the shade.

It’s still a good idea to inspect the siding before painting. But you’re more likely to see dust instead of mold and mildew. If you end up pressure washing a house in the sun it will require much less work, compared to a house with these problems.

Fragile Exterior

There’s nothing wrong with pressure washing stucco, as long as you have the least aggressive spray nozzle connected. Stucco is fragile material that can get damaged with too much pressure, so you’ll need to avoid using the 0-degree and 15-degree nozzles.

If you don’t have any experience in pressure washing I would avoid this process entirely. Instead, it would be better to hire a professional who specializes in soft washing. This is a process that involves using a soap detergent to clean fragile surfaces like stucco.

New Homes

New homes will rarely require pressure washing. These structures most likely will only require touch up paint in a few areas. If you do find a newer house that needs a complete paint job, there’s probably a bigger issue going on.

Sometimes using the wrong kind of paint can cause early peeling and shorten the life expectancy of the finish. Extreme temperatures can also cause the paint to wear quickly if you live in an area with high humidity. If that’s the case, try a high quality paint that will last in your specific location.

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