Pressure Washing

High pressure water is an effective cleaning agent for many surfaces, particularly masonry such as bricks, driveways, sidewalks, and patios. High pressure water literally blasts away dirt, mildew and other contaminants. It is also great for the area around the pool but we do request that if you are having any lifting of the pool liner that you get pool liner replaced before you make an appointment for the pressure washing.

However, painted surfaces should generally not be cleaned with high pressure water. Not only can such a method cause damage to the paint and the underlying substrate, it is ineffective in removing dirt and mildew on such surfaces.

A wide variety of pressure washers are available. Their output can range from 1,000 PSI to 5,000 PSI. Machines with outputs above 5,000 PSI are generally considered water blasters, and are usually used for industrial applications.

For most residential applications, an output of 1,500 PSI to 2,500 PSI is sufficient.

The output of the pressure washer is controlled and directed with a gun and wand assembly similar to that found at a self-service car wash. A tip at the end of the wand shapes the output into a fan, the width of which can be changed by inserting a different tip.

Though masonry surfaces are less susceptible to damage from high pressure water, care must be exercised. Pressurized water is abrasive, and prolonged exposure can loosen pea gravel and mortar.

In many situations, pressure washing may not sufficiently clean a surface. Bricks, for example, are highly porous and mildew and algae can grow in these pores. In such situations, a diluted bleach solution may be required to remove the residual fungal growth.

Deck Restoration

While a deck can add to the attractiveness and utility of your home, it is far from a maintenance free addition. The proper maintenance is necessary to protect the life and appearance of your deck.

It is a common misconception that pressure treated wood, which is the wood most often used for decks, requires little maintenance. The pressure treating process involves the injection of chromated copper arsenate into the wood cells. Copper acts as a fungicide, while arsenic is an insecticide. While these chemicals protect against insects and fungus, they leave the surface vulnerable to the effects of rain and sun. Even redwood and cedar, two other common woods used for decks, can be damaged by the elements.

One of the most common consequences of exposure to rain and sun is cracked wood. As water penetrates the wood cells, they expand. When the water evaporates, the wood cells begin to shrink. Repetitive expansion and contraction of the wood ultimately results in cracked boards.

Newly installed wood should be protected as soon as possible. It is not necessary to allow the wood to “weather” or “season”. Unprotected exposure to the elements, for even a few weeks, can result in damage to the wood.

Preventing water from penetrating the wood surface can greatly extend the life of the wood, as well as add to its attractiveness. There are many products on the market for protecting exterior wood surfaces. These range from paints and stains, to clear wood preservatives and water repellents.

As is the case when applying any type of coating, proper preparation is essential. A clean, dry surface is necessary for proper adhesion. Proper preparation involves removing dirt, mildew, stains and wood fibers damaged by UV light. If these deposits are not removed prior to applying a finish, both adhesion and appearance of the finish may be diminished.

Many products are available for cleaning decks and wood siding. Most can be applied with a pump type sprayer or a mop. Most products on the market contain either sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) or oxalic acid, both of which can damage wood fibers and actually lead to premature coating failure.

The most effective protection for decks occurs when the product penetrates the surface. Film forming products, such as paints, lay on the surface of the wood and have a tendency to blister, peel, and mar when used on horizontal surfaces.

The three most common products for protecting decks are water repellents (also called water sealers), clear wood finishes, and semi-transparent stains. The first two products are generally clear, penetrating coatings. Semi-transparent stains work much like water repellents, but also contain pigments to impart color to the wood surface.

When selecting a coating for wood surfaces, three characteristics should be considered: water repellency, mildew resistance, and weathering resistance. Water repellency prevents moisture from penetrating the wood fibers and causing the expansion and contraction of those fibers. Mildew resistance will retard the growth of damaging mold spores. The higher quality products contain UV blockers, which not only extend the life of the coating, but also prevent UV damage to the wood fibers. UV damage usually causes a graying of wood fibers.

With proper care, your deck can be an attractive and valuable addition to your home for years. Choosing a contractor with the knowledge and skills to properly prepare the surface and apply the proper products is the first step in protecting the life and appearance of your deck. Philpaint is a Wolman Wood Care Products Certified Contractor.

Exterior Mildew

Mildew is a fungus which consumes organic materials. Because paint (as well as most construction materials) contain organic compounds, mildew growth can be destructive to these materials.

In addition to these destructive qualities, mildew can also pose a safety risk when it accumulates on walking surfaces, such as sidewalks and decks. When wet, mildew can be extremely slippery.

Regularly removing mildew is a necessary step to protect the integrity of your home’s exterior and preventing extensive and expensive damages to paint, siding, fascia boards, and bricks. Regular cleanings will also remove the dirt and other contaminants on which mildew depends for nutrition. As well as preventing damage to these surfaces, such cleaning will also improve the short-term appearance of your home.

While effectively removing mildew is not a complicated process, it does require the proper equipment, cleaning agents, and knowledge.

Because the mold spores are microscopic, removing visible mildew is only part of the solution. Residual mildew, as well as mold spores, must be killed for an effective cleaning job.

While a pressure washer can be used to clean painted surfaces, the most effective method utilizes chemical cleaning agents and a low pressure process.

A chemical injector attached to the pressure washer allows for rapid and thorough application of the cleaning solution.

The most common cleaning solutions use chlorine bleach to kill mildew and mold, and a detergent to loosen dirt. The solution should be applied and allowed to activate for a period of 10 to 15 minutes, and then the surface should be thoroughly rinsed.

Additional applications of the solution may be necessary, particularly in areas with heavy mildew growth. A pump up sprayer can be used to treat small areas with a more concentrated solution.

High pressure water will remove most visible dirt and mildew. However, pressurized water will not kill mildew, nor the mold spores which cause it.