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laptopman 07-16-2006 09:25 PM

Pressure Washing Vinyl Siding
first post here in this forum but not unfamiliar with forums in general. so, i've done a bit of searching here and didn't see anything posted about this subject. i have an 8 year old home that my wife and i have lived in now for a little over a year. it's mostly white, that's the vinyl part and brick on the bottom. it's been suggested to me by my in-laws that i pressure wash the vinyl to get it looking new again. my problems are these: 1) i've heard horror stories of people blasting right through the vinyl because, like me they never used a pressure washer before and made matters worse. 2) what soap and water solution do you use? 3) can't it stain the brick? 4) what if water gets under the vinyl? will anything get ruined?

now maybe it sounds like i don't know what i'm doing altogether and maybe it doesn't. i'm a former aircraft mechanic. i like to know what i'm getting into before i do a job so it's done right the first time with the least amount of headaches. it's my understanding there are different tips for this particular pressure washer i might be using, which belongs to my in-laws, and as long as i don't use a high output tip everything will be ok. i hope so and if anyone has anything they'd like to share on this or better yet an easier way to do this, other than paying a contractor to come and do it, please enlighten me. i'm wide open for suggestions!

nice place y'all have here too by the way!

glennjanie 07-17-2006 12:38 AM

Hello and Welcome to the forum Laptopman:
Yes a pressure washer can cut through vinyl siding; it needs to be sprayed at an angle with a wide band tip. Observe the direction of the lap at joints and spray in that direction (you shouldn't spray into a joint). Water is not good behind the siding. I'm sure there are siding cleaners at the big box stores. I know one who cleans it with Windex-Outdoors. If there is any black fungus on it a bleach mixture would take care of that; one cup per gallon. For just cleaning dirt and occasional moss off, nothing would beat tsp (tri-sodium- phosphate, available from a paint store).
Now for the brick, nothing I have mentioned will hurt your brick; only if there is something on the siding that would stain the brick on the way down. You could cover the brick with polyethelene if its a concern. Let us know how it turns out!

asbestos 07-17-2006 03:08 AM

Any number of chems will work on vinyl siding. let the chemical do the work. The whole thing is distance, keep the tip back away from the house. watch out for windows. I would wet the brick first, so that any dirty water does not soak in. try a small area first and see what happens.

laptopman 07-17-2006 05:25 PM

i appreciate the replies. i'll take everything into consideration and let ya know how it turns out Sunday or monday.

manhattan42 07-21-2006 07:24 AM

Key to pressure washing vinyl siding is to use a low psi pressure washer.

A small electric model between 1300 and 1700psi is all you need. Anything above that will be too strong and can either cut right through the vinyl or blow it right off the house.

You also do not want to stand below and aim up against the siding. Vinyl siding has weep holes along the bottom of each panel. Spraying up will cause the water to be forced up through these weep holes and behind the siding.

When spraying vinyl, one needs to keep the wand at about eye level and aimed slightly down to avoid water penetration. This means you will need to climb a ladder for the high portions of your house.

Although pressure washing will remove dirt, it will not make your vinyl look new again. Vinyl fades in sunlight and depending on it's quality can actually 'chalk' a bit like aluminum. Pressure washing vinyl can actually leave it looking worse because the 'chalk' cannot be removed uniformly.

Test a small section before doing the entire house.

As others have said, vinyl siding cleaners are available from most home improvement stores.

That said, you can get as good, if not better results, but simply hand washing the vinyl with a large mop on an extension handle.

laptopman 07-21-2006 03:17 PM


Originally Posted by manhattan42
That said, you can get as good, if not better results, but simply hand washing the vinyl with a large mop on an extension handle.

....and rinse with a typical garden hose i gather? i think i'd rather do this than go all the way across town, borrow a truck, pressure washer, other equipment, and have to go to a store still to buy the soap. i've thought about doing this as opposed to pressure washing but my thinking was pressure washing would be easier cause there would be less climbing and i'd only have to go over it once. now that you've made the point about the weep holes, which i had forgotten about, it doesn't seem easier. mop, long handle, and garden hose. seems like the way to go. just don't spray int lap joints the wrong way and cover my brick. appreciate the insight manhattan42.

MTCquality 08-12-2006 07:34 AM

For anyone that has not washed there vinyl siding yet, I have a dirty little industry secret. When you mix your solution into the water put just a little bit of WD40 (adjust volume for job size) in it and test an inconspicuous area. Be sure you rinse the house well and dont get to close, the pressure alone will cause the vinyl to turn white, like it would if you creased it. Big box stores siding does not have color all the way through it either so be especially careful if you dont have a premium panel on your home at least a .042 or higher. If you dont have this information check your warranty papers on the house or if it is an older house call and ask your contractor or siding company. Hope this helps.

P.S. As far as water behind the siding, dont worry good siding is designed to trap and run the water away from the house. the weep holes are there for that and the bottom locks hold what is left and it evaporates with normal sun exposure.



rerod 08-19-2006 05:34 PM

surfactants (soaps) can degrade your house wrap. I plan on cleaning by hand to keep the soaps on the vinyl only.

I found the below here. html

There was speculation that surfactants (soaps) could make housewraps more water permeable. And we found this to be true. Surfactants, which break down the surface tension of water, making it flow more easily, are present in soaps and oils that can be found on the surface of construction materials and hands of installers. This may be significant since people regularly powerwash their homes, perhaps making them more likely to leak. Also, cedar and other wood sidings contain water soluble extractives that are thought to act as surfactants. Paints and stucco have surfactants as part of their formulation too. So surfactants seemed like an interesting thing to investigate.

We ran a series of hydro tests using soapy water and then another series using a cedar-extractive solution. We limited our tests to Tyvek, R-Wrap and Felt, since these were the winners of the first round of clean-water tests. Tyvek and R-Wrap lost about 10% of the soapy water column in 2 hours. Felt seemed unaffected by soap, still loosing 30% of its water. Tyvek and R-Wrap lost about 3% of the cedar-extractive mix in 2-hours, while Felt again lost 30%. It does appear that soaps and extractives do have at least some affect on the water resistance of housewraps.

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