Should You Power Wash Before Painting The Exterior Of Your House?

Apr 10, 2023

Painting your home’s exterior is an excellent way to improve its curb appeal. To achieve gorgeous, long-lasting results, there are important steps you should take – including pressure washing before you start painting. Here’s what to know, plus tips for washing and painting your house. 

Yes, You Should Power Wash Your House Before Painting


Is it really necessary to pressure wash your house before painting? Absolutely! Pressure washing the siding removes dirt and grime to reveal a clean surface that’s ready for painting. If you paint the exteriors of your home without pressure washing them first, the paint won’t adhere to the wood, vinyl, or other siding as well and the results won’t look as nice or last as long. To make your house look its best, it’s important to remove dirt and grime via power washing before you start painting. 

Power Washing vs Pressure Washing

What’s the difference between power washing and pressure washing? Both involve using water with high pressure to clean the house exterior. However, power washing uses heated water and pressure washing doesn’t. Both are great options for cleaning your home before painting it, and we use the terms interchangeably throughout this blog post.

What is Soft Washing?

Soft washing uses a pressure washing wand with nozzles that deliver low pressure rather than nozzles for high pressure. A biodegradable cleaning solution sprayed at low pressure removes dirt, moss, mold, algae, and more from exterior surfaces like wood, siding, decks, fences, and roofs. The chemicals clean your house without hurting nearby plants, and the low pressure helps prevent damage to fragile surfaces.

Soft wash and power wash are both effective at getting the exterior of your house clean and ready for paint. If you opt for power washing, it can be helpful to hire a professional so you don’t accidentally damage the siding with the high-pressure water. 

Benefits of Power Washing 

Washing your house is a crucial step in preparing your home to be painted. Power washing cleans the siding, wood, and other exterior surfaces so paint sticks to it better. This helps the paint look nicer and last longer, improving the curb appeal of your house. 

Reveal a Cleaner Surface 

If you plan on painting your house, washing it using a pressure washer before start painting will create a clean surface for the paint to stick to. Wood or vinyl siding and other materials on the outside of your house can become covered in dirt, dust, mold, mildew, and other grime. You may also have chalking, a residue that occurs as paint breaks down due to extended exposure to sunlight, or peeling paint. All of this should be removed before painting. If not, the paint won’t adhere properly to the surface, and mold and mildew can quickly ruin the new paint. 

Even if your house doesn’t look dirty, you might be surprised by how much cleaner it looks after washing with high pressure. Plus, a pressure washer makes it easier to clean hard-to-reach places that a sponge or garden hose can’t reach. 

Get Better Results 

When you pressure wash your home, you clean off the wood, siding, and other exterior surfaces that will be painted. The paint attaches to these clean surfaces much more effectively than dirty surfaces, resulting in a higher quality paint job.

Enjoy Longer-Lasting Paint

Paint that is applied to a clean surface will last much longer than paint that is applied to a dirty surface. This not only keeps your house looking nicer longer, but also increases the amount of time in between paint jobs, so you don’t have to deal with painting as frequently. 

Best Practices When Using Pressure Washers

Using a pressure washer properly is key to getting your house as clean as possible so you can achieve a high-quality paint job. It’s important to use the right equipment and the best water pressure level for the surface you’re cleaning. It’s also crucial to prep the exterior of your home before you pressure wash it, use the correct method of washing so you get the best results, and be careful while washing so you don’t damage your exterior or accidentally hurt yourself.

Prep the Area Before You Pressure Wash

Before you begin pressure washing, cover areas that may be easily damaged by high water pressure. For example, cover nearby plants and shrubs with a tarp, remove or cover light fixtures, and use duct tape to cover electrical sockets. It can also be helpful to use a garden hose or scrub brush to wash excess dirt and debris off of the home’s exterior.

Use the Right Pressure Washer Settings

Pressure washers offer varying water pressure levels and spray angles. It’s important to use the right equipment and the right settings when cleaning the exterior of your house. Houses featuring stucco, aluminum siding, or soft-grain wood usually need a lower water pressure, typically 1,200 psi to 1,500 psi. Vinyl siding can handle a stronger water pressure, typically 2,500 psi to 3,000 psi. The water pressure should be strong enough to get your house clean but not so strong that it causes damage.

Choosing the right spray angle is also important. Pressure washer nozzles range from zero-degree nozzles for heavy-duty washing to 65-degree nozzles for a wider and gentler spray. Pressure washers typically come with either interchangeable nozzles or a single nozzle that has multiple spray settings.

Pressure Wash Properly

Following best practices while pressure washing can ensure you get the exterior of your house as clean as possible. When washing your house, spray the water at a 45-degree angle. Try to spray at a right angle or slightly downward rather than upward, as spraying upward can force water into the siding boards, soak the insulation, and potentially cause water damage. When using a detergent or cleaning solution, spray the liquid from side to side, working from the bottom of the house upwards. 

While washing, avoid spraying windows, doors, vents, and electrical outlets. After you’ve pressure washed the house, let it dry completely before painting. This will likely be somewhere between 24 hours and three days.

Be Careful 

Using a pressure washer may seem simple enough, but it can be dangerous, especially if you’re inexperienced. If you use the wrong water pressure or spray nozzle, you may damage the exterior of your house. When washing, be sure to wear safety goggles, work gloves, and other protective gear to help prevent injuries. Additionally, don’t stand on a ladder while pressure washing, as the water pressure may cause you to lose your balance and fall. It’s also important to know the proper water pressure level to use when washing wood, vinyl, and other exterior materials. Damaging your property or injuring yourself can result in unexpected costs.

Tips for Painting the House Exterior

As professional painters, we know how important it is to properly paint your house so it looks great and the paint lasts for years. Here are some tips to consider when exterior painting.

Clean the Surface

You now know how important it is to power wash your house before you start painting. In addition to washing, you should repair any damages to wood, brick, or other materials on the exterior of your home before you start painting. Be sure to fill holes and cracks with epoxy filler, then sand the areas when dry to create a smooth surface. You can also use a sanding block or paint scraper to remove loose and peeling paint. If you see stains or wood knots, use a paintbrush to apply a primer to help make the stains less noticeable after painting. 

Paint the Trim

When it comes to making your home look its best, details are important. When you’re painting your house, don’t forget to paint details like the wood trim and other trim types, and shutters. This will help your house look nicer and newer. 

Hire Professionals for Washing and Exterior Painting

Washing and painting the outside of your house takes a lot of time and effort. It can also be easy to damage your house if you’re not careful. Although you can buy or rent pressure washers and do the work yourself, it’s often easier and more cost effective to hire professionals.  

Professional residential and commercial power washers know the correct water pressure, spray angles, and other methods to use when washing your house. They have the proper equipment and the skills and experience to use that equipment to clean all areas of the exterior without causing damage. The pros also know which cleaning solutions will best clear away mold, mildew, dust, dirt, and other debris.

For high-quality commercial and residential pressure washing and painting services in Columbus, contact Prim Painting. We offer pressure washing, exterior painting, interior painting, and more to improve the look and feel of your house. Call us at (614) 686-PRIM (7746) for a free estimate.