Newly installed cedar siding is aesthetic to look at. It makes your house look more expensive than it is. However, as time passes, its natural color fades away. Thus, frequent cleaning of cedar siding is needed to maintain its original appearance.
Cedar siding is more challenging to clean than concrete walls because wood is a very sensitive material. Many homeowners who clean their cedar siding for the first time, manage to remove the dirt from the surface but they also damage the woods. Why? Because they clean it the wrong way.
Is It Okay to Pressure Wash Cedar Siding?
You can pressure wash your cedar siding without breaking the wood if the process is done correctly, and if a suitable cleaning solution is used. Using this cleaning method is very effective and will remove the dirt faster than manually brushing the walls.
Soft Washing vs Hard Washing Cedar Siding
Many people believe that using a pressure washer in the highest setting will make the job easier and faster. Well, that isn’t the case in cleaning cedar siding. This type of exterior wall contains softwood that can break up if you applied too much pressure when washing it.
Hard washing a cedar siding is not ideal because cedar siding has a sensitive wood structure. Soft washing your cedar siding is recommended by using a pressure washer with low psi or adjusting a pressure washer to 1800 psi or below.
Factors To Consider Before Pressure Washing Your Cedar Siding
There are many considerations to determine what cleaning agent to use and what method of pressure washing will work on your cedar siding. Different types of wood walls need different approaches in cleaning them.
- Type of wood. If your cedar siding is made from typical softwoods, use 1800 psi or below. If your wall is made out of hardwood, you can use up to 3000 psi. Softer woods might be easier to clean but they are also more prone to breakage.
- Shake cedar siding. If you have this type of wall, it might require more time and effort to clean it because it is prone to mold and mildew accumulation.
- Type of pressure washer. Make sure to use the lowest setting of your pressure washer. If you own a pressure washer with only one setting, consider stepping back for about two to three feet and try spraying at a higher angle to reduce the water pressure applied on the cedar siding.
How to Pressure Wash Cedar Siding
Make sure to follow these steps to avoid damaging your cedar siding and other nearby properties.
- House preparation. Close the windows and doors, and make sure that there are no electrical devices that might be damaged throughout the process. Cover any area that you don’t want to get wet. Make sure to over hydrate your vegetation to avoid the risk of killing your plants because of the chemical solution that you will be using. Also, check your water source and connect it to the pressure washer properly.
- Try out the pressure washer. If this is your first time cleaning your cedar siding, start on the lowest setting of your pressure washer and try it out on a small section of the wall. Increase the pressure if necessary but not more than the recommended pressure for soft and hardwood because this will damage your wood walls.
- Pre-wet your cedar siding. You can either splash water on the surface or continue watering your walls with the lowest psi of your pressure washer.
- Apply the liquid cleaning solution. You can use sodium hydroxide, oxygen bleach, laundry detergent, or any solution specifically made for cleaning wooden surfaces that can remove algae, moss, and mildew. Note that you can’t use regular household bleach that contains chlorine. This type of bleach solution can break the structure of the wood.
- Wait for the solution to set. Leave the cedar siding for about 15 minutes for softwoods or 25 minutes for hardwoods. The dwell time depends on your intuition. Don’t wait for too long because it will dry the wood and cause oxidation. You will notice this effect if you rub your hand on the cedar siding and you witness a white dusty substance on your hand afterward. The waiting time also depends on your location. If your environment is hot, reduce the recommended dwell time by half.
- Rinse. In a low-pressure setting, wash the cedar siding from the upper portion of the wall downwards. You might want to spray more on the side reams or the surface with hard stains. Pressure washing it twice is ideal if all the molds and mildew are not yet removed.
- Redo steps 4 to 6 on other days if necessary. Some dirt is harder to remove especially on the hardwood. Reconsider changing your cleaning solution and dwell time until you reach the desired result but take into account the sensitivity of the cedar siding.
Precautions in Using a Pressure Washer on Cedar Siding
Cleaning a cedar siding with a pressure washer for the first time is risky, especially if you do not know how to clean fragile wood surfaces properly. Here are some tips and reminders before pressure washing your cedar siding:
- Do not spray water on the surface for too long. Water accumulation might occur on some surface cracks. This will trap moisture in some areas and gradually weaken the wood structure.
- Be easy on tough stains. You might be triggered to increase the pressure of your washer to remove any algae, moss, or mildew left on the wood. Note that high water pressure can damage the surface and leave permanent marks.
- When spraying on the cedar siding, keep the tip moving towards the direction that follows the wood grain. Stopping in one place while applying pressure to the wood might result in a permanent indentation.
- Always apply the cleaning solution from the bottom to the top, and then rinse with water from the top down.
- When washing tough stains with only water, start from the bottom and work your way up to infuse water beneath the stain, and then wash the wall from top to bottom.
If you’ve never tried cleaning with a pressure washer before or are confused about what exactly you need to do to clean your cedar siding, it’s better to hire professionals to do the procedures and carefully observe them. In this way, you will learn their techniques so you can do it yourself next time.
Now you know the precautions, steps, and other information about cleaning cedar siding with a pressure washer, try to assess yourself first if you want to do this job by yourself or hire a professional instead for a better result.