Pressure washing your home can be a great way to freshen the whole space early in the spring or just before fall turns to winter.
If you live in a region that tends to be dusty, it can make sense to wait until the monsoon season is over so you can clean up any spatter that has bounced back.
Depending on the material that covers your house, you’ll need different pounds per square inch, or PSI.
What Covers Most Of Your House?
If your house is covered in wooden clapboards, you need 500 PSI to fully clean the surface. If you’re just washing the clapboards, use a broader fan of water. If you need to remove loose paint, tighten the water stream. Don’t bump up the PSI to remove paint that isn’t already flaking away.
If your house is wrapped in vinyl, your PSI should be no more than 1500. Because 1500 PSI is the recommended rating for windows, you will probably want to stop cranking up the pressure at 1500.
When power washing vinyl, do consider brushing or brooming the house first to loosen up any clinging dirt.
Brick and Stone Accents and Walls
Your brick house washing project should stop at 1500 PSI to avoid damaging your windows. Before you pressure wash your brick house, take a walk around the house to look for cracks in the mortar.
You don’t want to force water between the brick skin and the wooden structure.
If you have stone accents, brick half walls and grout on your home that needs attention, be sure you test the reaction to any soaps you want to use. Limestone has a different porosity than concrete grout.
Depending on where you live, adding moisture to these surfaces may not be good for them. Consult a professional on other ways to clean any natural stone on your home.
While concrete can take up to 3000 PSI, the windows on your brick or stone home will not fair well. Like a vinyl home, you’re best off to stop at 1500 PSI and tighten down the stream of water to fully tackle any really dingy spots.
About the Windows
In addition to stopping at 1500 PSI, makes sure you fan out the nozzle to avoid causing damage to seals and weather stripping.
Additionally, if your windows and your home are older, be aware that some seals under the window may not tolerate the impact of water from the pressure washer.
If you’ve never pressure washed your home, send someone inside to check what is going on around your windows.
Of course, they may not leak during a hard rain. However, hard rains seldom push water up under the bottom sill of the window.
An interior leak is highly unlikely, but you don’t want to wait to find out that a window is leaking after you’ve soaked the walls around it.
Driveways, Sidewalks, and Brick Homes
Your sidewalk and driveway can tolerate up to 3000 PSI. Depending on what you’re trying to take off of your driveway, you may need to use a degreasing product.
Some of these need to sit on the concrete to pull it completely from the surface. Do take the time to review both instructions and risks; if you have new grass or fresh sod, you may need to live with the grease stains for a year and pressure wash off oil stains once the grass is established.
Sidewalks tend to be easier to clean; there may be dirt and a bit of mold, but you’re unlikely to suffer from greasy sidewalks. Use between 2500 and 3000 PSI and water to clean your sidewalks easily.
Your deck can handle a power wash pressure of about 1500 PSI. Most decks are either a pressure treated lumber or a naturally rot resistant hardwood.
If your deck is made of a synthetic wood product, make sure you consult the manufacturer’s recommendations before you pressure wash the boards.
For those who live in very wet regions, there may be some corrosion on deck plates and even from some of the screws.
If you’ve replaced the screws with something more weather resistant, try cleaning the wood with a bit of oxalic acid to take away the rust stain.
Carefully review the space under the deck before you pressure wash it. If you have a walkout basement with a deck above, make sure any and all furniture has been relocated; even metal furniture can be damaged by some wood cleaning chemicals.
Try to do this pressure cleaning at the start of a dry week so you can go ahead and re-seal or restain the lumber after the wood has had time to dry out.
If you’re concerned about overloading the soil under your deck with water, you can pre-wet with the pressure-washer, brush on a deck cleaner, and use the pressure washer to rinse away the cleaning product.
Do take care if your wooden sided home comes in contact with your soapy deck; you may splash some cleaner up onto the siding. Finish the deck, turn down the pressure and rinse off the vinyl siding at 1500 PSI.
A pressure washer can be a handy tool when managed properly. Aim for clean; don’t try to use a pressure washer as a scouring or sanding tool. Always test surfaces before you apply a detergent or other chemical.