Can Pressure Washing Damage Siding? - Your Guide

August 30, 2023

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Homeowners often wonder, can pressure washing damage siding? This is an excellent question, as poor-quality power washing risks damaging a variety of outdoor building materials. This includes even the most durable metal siding!

The quick answer is yes, pressure washing can damage siding when performed with too high PSI or with the wrong tools. Also, the wrong tools and techniques can risk damaging nearby electrical fixtures, concrete, and the like. On the other hand, high-quality power washing offers many benefits for a property and reduces the likelihood of damage.

If you’re still interested in pressure washing your home’s siding, be sure to read the following information first. Some preparedness can help avoid costly damage to siding and other materials and surfaces.

Additionally, it’s helpful to understand why you might invest in a professional power washing contractor. They can ensure safe yet thorough cleaning for your home. This includes washing the siding, roof, concrete, and other areas as well.

can pressure washing damage siding

Can Pressure Washing Damage Siding? In Some Cases, Yes!

Yes, pressure washing can potentially damage siding if not done correctly. If the pressure washer is set to a very high pressure, it can force water and debris into gaps and seams of the siding. This risks water infiltration, mold growth, or other issues.

Holding the pressure washer nozzle too close to the siding can lead to the forceful removal of paint and coating. In some cases, pressure washing can remove the top layer of the siding material itself.

Some types of siding, such as wood, vinyl, or fiber cement, are more sensitive to pressure washing. Delicate or deteriorating materials might become damaged or even break under the pressure.

Siding types and recommended PSI

Some types of siding are more sensitive and require lower pressure:

  • Wood siding is easily damaged by high pressure. The surface can develop grooves, splintering, raised grain, and other marks from the water pressure. A maximum of 500 PSI is recommended for wood.
  • Vinyl siding is durable but still requires caution. Seams and edges can separate if water is forced behind them. No higher than 1200 PSI is suggested for vinyl.
  • Fiber cement siding is brittle and prone to chipping on the edges when pressure washed. Keep the nozzle at least 1 foot away and use less than 2000 PSI.
  • Brick is very durable but old, deteriorating brick may have cracks, gaps, or loose mortar that can be impacted by high pressure. Keep PSI under 2000 and avoid directing water into crevices.
  • Stucco is a delicate surface that depends on paint for protection. Too much pressure risks removing this protective coating. Limit PSI to under 1000 for stucco surfaces.

In general, limit pressure and keep the nozzle at a safe distance from the siding, especially for delicate or deteriorating materials. Test a small area first and adjust pressure as needed. This helps ensure the siding is cleaned without damage.

pressure washing stucco siding

Does Pressure Washing Always Damage Siding?

While there are risks to siding during pressure washing, a professional ensures a safe, damage-free clean. They do this by using the right tools for the job and ensuring proper washing techniques. For example, they will adjust the pressure of the washer to a setting suitable for the siding material. In many cases, wood siding might require lower pressure than vinyl.

Also, a professional will keep a proper distance between the nozzle and the siding. A recommended distance is usually around 12 to 24 inches. However, they will use their expertise to determine the best choice for your home. This depends on the siding material, dirt levels, and the like.

Additionally, pros know to use a wider spray pattern nozzle when pressure washing a house. This helps to distribute the pressure more evenly across the surface. It also makes quicker work of larger areas such as exterior walls. They will also hold the nozzle at an angle rather than straight at the siding to reduce the risk of forcing water behind it.

Should You Pressure Wash Siding?

While DIY pressure washing can damage siding, professional power washing offers many benefits:

  • Pressure washing is a fast and effective way to remove dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and other debris that can accumulate on siding over time.
  • Cleaning the siding can greatly improve the appearance of your home's exterior, making it look fresher and more well-maintained.
  • Regular pressure washing can help extend the lifespan of your siding by preventing the buildup of contaminants that can contribute to deterioration.
  • By removing mold, mildew, and other organic growth, you can help prevent potential health hazards and structural issues that can arise from prolonged exposure to moisture.
  • If you're planning to paint or stain your siding, pressure washing can provide a clean surface that ensures better adhesion and a more uniform finish.
  • Compared to manual scrubbing or other cleaning methods, pressure washing can save you time and physical effort.
  • Pressure washing often requires less cleaning agents, making it an environmentally friendlier cleaning option compared to using a lot of chemicals.
  • Pressure washing allows you to clean high or hard-to-reach areas without needing to use ladders or scaffolding, which can enhance safety and convenience.
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance, including pressure washing, can help maintain the value of your property over time.
  • Pressure washing can effectively remove deeply embedded dirt and stains that might be difficult to clean with other methods.

To maximize these advantages while minimizing the risks, it's important to follow proper pressure washing techniques. This includes adjusting the pressure level to the type of siding you have and maintaining a safe distance from the surface, as said.

Pressure washing vinyl siding tips

Yes, vinyl siding can potentially be damaged by pressure washing if proper precautions are not taken. Some tips to avoid damaging vinyl siding include:

  • Use no more than 1200 PSI pressure
  • Keep the nozzle at least 1 foot away from the siding
  • Avoid directing water into seams and edges
  • Use a wide-spray nozzle rather than a narrow high-pressure jet
  • Rinse at an angle rather than directly at the surface
  • Test a small hidden area first before washing the rest

Following these guidelines will allow vinyl siding to be cleaned safely without damaging the surface. But too much pressure or holding the nozzle too close can still cause problems like peeling paint or separated seams in vinyl.

a contractor cleaning siding

How Often Should You Pressure Wash Siding?

The frequency of pressure washing siding depends on the climate, environment, and condition of the siding itself. These tips can help you determine how often you should pressure wash your siding:

  • In most cases, pressure washing your siding once a year or every couple of years is a good rule of thumb. This schedule helps prevent the buildup of dirt, grime, mold, and mildew.
  • If you live in a humid climate or an area prone to mold and mildew growth, you might need to pressure wash more frequently. More cleaning helps prevent these contaminants from becoming deeply ingrained in the siding.
  • Is your home located near a busy road, construction site, or industrial area? If so, you might need to clean your siding more often due to the higher accumulation of dirt and pollutants.
  • Regularly inspect your siding for signs of dirt buildup, mold, mildew, or other contaminants. If you notice these issues, it's time to schedule a pressure washing.

Remember that while pressure washing can be beneficial, too-frequent pressure washing can potentially damage siding. Always use appropriate pressure levels and techniques to avoid damaging the material. Additionally, if you're pressure washing in preparation for painting or other work, allow the siding to dry thoroughly before proceeding with your next project.

A Quick Word From Our Crew

Clearwater Pressure Washing & Roof Cleaning is happy to explain, can pressure washing damage siding? Hopefully we’ve cleared up this question for you! Also, if you’re in the area, call our Clearwater pressure washing contractors for a FREE quote. We’ll explain your pressure washing options and ensure expert care for your property.

 

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