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POWER WASHING vs. SOFT WASHING

Jim Chesmore; JC Power Wash, Soft Wash & Roof Cleaning LLC


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 Curb appeal is the first thing people notice when driving into a new neighborhood. Colorful roofs, clean siding, bright white gutters and clean walkways compliment each other to enhance the warmth of the community.This article will focus on the best way to clean your siding, power wash or soft wash.

To better understand the cleaning process you need to know what contaminants you will be cleaning and the many different types of siding materials.
 
Contaminants on siding are both organic and inorganic:
 
  • Organic consist of mold, algae, fungus, moss, lichen, bird droppings, spiders and their webs, etc... Some people and children may have unhealthy reactions to these substances
  • Inorganic materials consist of wind blown dirt, dust, road grime, sea breeze (salt & sand), etc...
 
There is a wide variety of siding materials. The most popular are vinyl, aluminum, dryvit, EIFS, stucco, wood, brick and stone or any combination of materials. Some are porous (EIFS, stucco, dryvit, etc...) while others are nonporous (vinyl, aluminum, etc...) and each require a different cleaning solution. For this article we will just call them porous and nonporous.
 
For many years pressure washing has been the only choice for cleaning siding. The local handyman or maintenance personnel would set up ladders and scaffolding to reach the high areas and proceed to use high pressure to blast off any contaminants.
 
The biggest problem with high pressure is it will damage all siding materials in a variety of ways. High pressure will:
 
  • Force water behind the siding such as vinyl, aluminum and wood. This is an expensive problem to have because now you need to repair or replace the damaged siding plus make sure the underling surface is dry and free from mold.
  • Cut and gouge almost any surface including concrete & remove glazing from bricks - Removing the glazing will make the brick look terrible and allow water inside which will cause the brick to deteriorate very quickly. Repair/replacement is very expensive.
  • Break window seals - You know this has happened when the windows fog up. Repair/replacement is expensive.
  • Damage screens - The screens can be cut up, pushed out, bent and have the coating removed in areas leaving them looking like they have unnatural lines and marks. Very time consuming and costly to repair/replace.
  • Blow apart softer materials such as dryvit, EIFS and stucco - These types of siding materials tend to be brittle, high pressure washing will crack and chip away at them. Many times the crack will be hairline and not be noticed for months or even years later. In that time, water will get behind the material causing mold. Over time the mold will “bleed” though creating a permanent stain. In the winter it will freeze and expand, enlarging the cracks and causing more damage. These repairs are very expensive.
  • Scar aluminum siding - High pressure will remove paint and oxidation leaving the color blotchy looking and uneven. It also has a tendency to dent or even cut aluminum. To the best of my knowledge, this siding is no longer being produced. This makes replacement impossible and repairs unsightly due to using other materials and trying to get the colors and shapes to blend in with the older aluminum.
  • Ladders and or scaffolding - With high pressure cleaning you will also need ladders, extension poles and or scaffolding to reach the high areas. High areas are defined as higher than 10 feet. These are needed to keep the tip of the gun close to the surface to “blast” off the contaminants. Ladders can damage siding, break windows, slide and hurt residents and the list goes on. It is also very time consuming to maneuver these items around the work site which will add to over all expenses.
  • Sidewalks, breezeways, dumpster pads - With the proper equipment and experience these surfaces can be cleaned with high pressure but not totally cleaned.
 
High pressure has been used for years and years in the past and is still in use today. Many companies have been around for 20+ years doing it this way but their employees most likely change from year to year which leaves very few, if any, experienced personnel in the field.
 
So, what is Soft Washing?
 
Soft Wash is using very low pressure, similar to a garden hose, to apply algaecides and a cleaning solution to lift the dirt away from the surface. The pressure is so low you can spray your hand without fear of getting hurt.
 
A high volume, low pressure rinse is used to remove all excess material. This will insure the surface is free from all organic and inorganic materials for the longest time. Low pressure along with specialized equipment and accessories, provide the necessary combination which allows washing up to 3 and 4 stories without the use of extension poles, ladders or scaffolding. Watch videos here (Please link “watch videos here” to http://www.jcsoftwash.com/video.html ).
 
Without the need for high pressure, ladders or scaffolding, a job that takes months to be power washed can be soft washed in a matter of weeks. More importantly, it will leave the property with the highest level of cleanliness possible. This will save time onsite, less inconvenience to
residents and save money for the community. Since no high pressure is used, the process is quickly and easily passed on to new employees.
 
Due to the garden hose level of pressure being used, Soft Washing is safe for all siding materials.
  • Nonporous siding will clean up quickly and without high pressure.
  • The cleaning solution will will get into every nook and cranny to provide the deepest, most detailed clean for porous materials.
 
For both, no ladders, scaffolding or extension poles will NOT be needed. This will save time onsite, less inconvenience for residents and save money for the community. Sidewalks and concrete collect the same contaminants listed above plus tire marks from mowers, grass stains, rust and oil stains, ground in stains from foot traffic and more. These all present a terrible eyesore to the property. Dirty sidewalks are also a safety concern, the concrete gets slippery when wet due to moss or other fungi on the surface.
 
A soft wash solution and slightly higher pressure for concrete, will make the walkway safe again by getting deep into the pores to kill and remove all fungi and other organic materials. Applying another solution after the wash will help to slow down the return of the organic materials.
 
Exterior cleaning is a job for specialists with professional equipment, proper insurance and experience to handle the challenges involved with cleaning siding and concrete. Clean communities will attract more residents and demand higher property values. To save time and money on your next exterior cleaning project you need to consider the soft washing process.
 
Jim Chesmore; JC Power Wash, Soft Wash & Roof Cleaning LLC; 609-412-3033;

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