Power Washing: A Necessary Step Before Painting, or Waste of Time?

When considering painting the exterior of your house or business, one of the first questions that usually comes to mind is whether it should be power washed first before applying the primer and paint. When you’re already looking at spending a significant amount of money (or time if you’re going to make it a DIY project) to have the painting job completed, it can be tempting to cut corners to save some time and money on the preparation side of things. This is almost always a bad idea though, for a multitude of reasons that we will discuss below. Trying to save a few hundred dollars on prep work can end up costing you thousands of dollars down the road when your paint job needs to be redone because it’s starting to flake off and look like a mess.

Why Pressure Washing is Crucial

If you step outside and look at your house or place of business, it can appear that the siding is relatively clean and wouldn’t really benefit all that much from a good, thorough cleaning. However, as they say — looks can be deceiving. There are four main culprits that can cause paint to not adhere to the surface properly and start to flake off prematurely. These things are often hard to see from a distance and require getting up close to notice.

Chalking – If you lick your thumb and rub it over your house’s siding, you will likely see a thin, chalky residue of the same color as your siding. This chalky substance is the old paint surface that inevitably gets broken down over the years from constant exposure to sunlight. If you try painting over a chalky surface, the new paint won’t adhere nearly as well as it would to a clean surface free of chalking.
Dirt and Dust – The same problems will occur if you try to paint over dirt and dust. It might look fine at first, but over a relatively short period of time the new paint is going to start peeling off.
Mold and Mildew – If you’ve ever looked at the side of your house and seen spores with a greenish or greyish color, your siding likely has a mold or mildew problem. One of the best ways to get rid of this quickly and affordably is to have the area treated with professional grade power washing chemicals that are proven to safely remove mold and mildew. If you skip this step and just paint over the affected areas, the mold will grow and eat right through your new paint in a very short period of time.

DIY Power Washing vs Professional Power Washing

No matter what kind of siding you have, whether it be stucco, metal/aluminum, vinyl, Hardie Plank, or wood, we always recommend hiring a pro to power wash your house for best results. You can try to do it on your own, but the results will often be subpar unless you really take the time to research proper washing techniques, and can gain access to the right equipment, attachments, and cleaning chemicals. Also, if you’re washing a multi-story building, there’s always the danger of falling associated with climbing ladders to reach those areas higher up. Below are some of the benefits of hiring a professional.

Better Equipped, More Knowledgeable – Professional painters and power washers have the necessary equipment and cleaning agents to properly clean any type of siding, and more importantly they know what type of siding needs what type of cleaning chemicals, how much pressure to apply, what attachments to use, etc. The average homeowner doesn’t have this knowledge and would require a significant investment of time and energy to acquire it.
More Power – Often homeowners will try to save some money by using a garden hose to spray off their siding. Even if you use a garden hose power washing attachment on the hose, it’s simply not going to provide enough pressure to get the job done correctly. The high-pressure hoses that the professionals use can be 50 times more powerful than a regular garden hose.
Adequate Drying Time – How much time your house needs to dry after being washed is dependent on outside weather conditions, the type of siding, the manner in which it was cleaned, and many other factors. One of the primary reasons for paint failure is not allowing the surface to become completely dry before applying new paint. Professional painters know exactly when the time is right for the new paint to be applied.
Loose Paint – A good professional power washing job will remove any loose, flaking, or blistering paint from your siding to ensure a long lasting, durable finish when the new paint is applied.

When deciding to paint your home or business, don’t make the mistake of skipping out on a high-quality power washing job. Your future self will thank you. If you’re ready to get started, give us a call at 831-269-2837. Our friendly, professional painters are all well equipped with the industry best power washing tools, cleaning solutions, and training to safely and effectively power wash any surface and ensure a long lasting, durable, and visually stunning paint job.