Why Power Washing Should Always Come Before Painting Exteriors

calander Jul 26 , 2023 user-iconAnderson Painting
Power washing the exterior of a house.

Properly prepping your property’s exterior before painting is one of the secrets to achieving a professional-looking finish. Power washing is one of the ways to get a surface thoroughly cleaned fast. This post will discuss the importance of this task and tips to help you do it right.

The Importance of Power Washing Before Painting

Should I Power Wash Exterior Surfaces Before Painting?

Before anything else, note that power washing is not quite the same as pressure washing. Both spray water at high pressure, but power washing uses heated water, while pressure washing uses water that isn’t heated. Warmer water makes it easier to clean surfaces with tough stains, making power washing ideal for removing stubborn build-up on exterior surfaces.

Now, let’s discuss why you should not skip power washing when painting your exteriors.

What Happens if You Don’t Pressure Wash Before Painting?

When you don’t clean the exterior before painting, you will paint over dust, dirt, and even loose or cracked paint. The dust will likely ball up into the paint or get glued into it, leaving bumps and dirty streaks.

A coat of paint must stick to the underlying surface for as long as possible. But it will have great difficulty adhering to any surface if contaminants like dust, dirt, and oil are present.

Exteriors are exposed to elements. Dust, dirt, and other foreign materials have likely accumulated on the surface over time, which is why it is crucial to power wash the exterior of your house. A clean surface ensures a flawless, long-lasting paint job.

What Does Power Washing Involve, and Is It Safe to Do Yourself?

Power washing involves using a power washer, a long hose, water, and surface cleaner. The process appears simple. You need to connect the pressure washer to a hose connected to an input valve, add cleaning detergents if necessary, attach the nozzle you want, and then get ready to squeeze the spray and pull the starter cord.

Some pressure washers can give you a cleaning power of up to 10,000 PSI, which is powerful enough to clean even the toughest stains. However, this amount of pressure is extremely dangerous. One wrong move and you can end up damaging your property’s structure and even causing severe injuries.

Even if you don’t max out your power washer, this task can still pose a safety risk. If not done properly, power washers can damage seals on windows, crack wood, dent vinyl siding, and shred window screens. That’s why it’s best to let the pros handle power washing, no matter how tempting it is to do it yourself.

Tips for Preparing Your Exterior Before Painting

Exterior power washing will only eliminate dirt, debris, and peeling paint. You need to do other things to make sure the surface is ready for painting. Here are some of them:

Sand the Surface

Sanding is not required for every painting project. However, it is best to include this step in your surface preparation if you spot rough areas on the walls. After all, sanding promotes better paint adhesion and ensures a professional-looking finish.

Repair Damage

Inspect the exterior for damage like cracks, holes, or rotting wood. Repair these issues before painting to prevent further deterioration and ensure a long-lasting paint job. Use appropriate fillers, putty, or replacement materials as needed.

Recaulk if Needed

Check the caulking around windows, doors, and other joints. If it’s cracked or deteriorated, remove the old caulk and apply fresh caulk. Proper caulking helps seal gaps, prevent moisture intrusion, and enhance the overall appearance and durability of the paint job.

Cover Plants and Shrubs

Before painting, protect your plants and shrubs by covering them with plastic sheets or drop cloths. This prevents accidental paint splatters or drips from damaging your plants and maintains the overall aesthetics of your landscaping.

Remove or Tape Around Obstacles

Some items like utility boxes and hose bibs are typically scattered over a home’s exterior. If the item is not attached to anything, you should move it to another secure place so you don’t paint over it. If not, painter’s tape will help protect such items.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Power Washing Your Home’s Exterior

If you’re power washing your exterior without the help of a professional, take extra precautions to minimize the risk of damaging your property or injuring yourself. Make sure to avoid the following:

Using Too Much Pressure

A power washer is powerful enough to punch a hole in your siding, no matter the material. So ensure you know the right amount of pressure to use before spraying water on your exterior. The right pressure will depend on the type of siding. For instance, vinyl can handle up to 3,000 PSI, while soft-grain wood can only handle a little over 1,000 PSI.

Spraying at the Wrong Angle

The angle is vital because it affects what your water stream can do. If you spray directly at a dirty surface, the dirt will likely go deeper, especially if the surface is porous. So make sure to approach the surface that you’ll be cleaning at an angle.

Using the Wrong Power Washer Nozzle

There are many types of nozzles for power washers, and each one of them has a specific use. For example, a 25-degree green nozzle is used for normal washing/cleaning, while the 40-degree nozzle is ideal for light cleaning on roofs and windows. You need to use the right nozzle to maximize the equipment's cleaning ability.

Using a Power Washer Without Safety Equipment

We’ve already touched on the potential dangers of power washers. So even if power washers look like oversized squirt guns, don’t underestimate what they can do. Wear safety equipment and always be careful when operating them.

Not Learning How to Use the Equipment Properly

Using power washers isn’t rocket science. However, it can harm your property and even injure you if you don’t use the device properly. Read the instruction manual or view product demonstrations before turning the equipment on.

Leaving the Power Washer on When Not in Use

Make sure you switch the power washer on only when you’re ready to use the equipment, as leaving it running will only damage it.

The best way to avoid making any of these mistakes is to hire a power washing professional. The pros have the right equipment, knowledge, and experience to do the job properly.

How Often Should You Have Your Home’s Exterior Power Washed?

Quality exterior paints last for years. You don’t have to wait many years to invest in residential power washing. As part of regular maintenance, you can have your home’s exterior washed at least once a year.

If you need help with painting or power washing near Raleigh, NC, you can always count on Anderson Painting. The team can power wash and paint your interior and exterior, so you won’t have to find other contractors to do each task. The team’s carpenters can even take care of your repairs.

Call Anderson Painting if you’re ready to transform your exterior today.


Do I need to power wash before painting?

The purpose of power washing before painting is to get rid of dirt, dust, or any material on the surface that could affect the paint’s adhesion. There are many ways to clean your exterior, but power washing is the most convenient option.

What are the benefits of having your home’s exterior pressure washed regularly?

Regularly power washing your home’s exterior can help keep the paint in good condition, increase your property’s curb appeal, and protect the siding from mold, algae, and other elements that could damage it.

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