Pressure Washing Siding: Everything Homeowners Need to Know

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Reviewed by Leslie Rogers Jr
Updated April 1, 2022
Close-up of pressure washing house’s siding
Photo: volgariver / Adobe Stock

Pressure washing is a fantastic way to keep your siding looking new, but it isn't right for every home

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If grime is tainting your home’s once-shining exterior, it’s tempting to give it a thorough go-round with a pressure washer. While great for brick and concrete hardscaping, pressure washing isn’t always advised for your home’s siding. Whether you hire out or DIY, find out if pressure washing is right for your home.

The Basics of Pressure Washing

A pressure washer has many uses, from washing your vehicles to your patio furniture. These tools can reach upwards of 3,000 psi, which is capable of blasting through even the most stuck-on grime.

However, with great pressure washing comes great responsibility. A heavy-handed pressure washer won’t stop after the gunk and residue are gone. Without the proper precautions, it could cause more harm than good.

How Much Does Pressure Washing Cost?

Pressure washing costs $300 on average for hardscaping around the home, which includes elements like brick patios and stone walls. Pressure-washing your house costs anywhere from $150 to $2,500, depending on its size.

If you’re interested in DIY-ing the job, you can rent a pressure washer for between $35 and $175 per day. While this costs less, it leaves you vulnerable to expensive mistakes.

What Do Professional Pressure Washers Do?

To clean a home’s exterior, a local pressure-washing pro will apply a custom soap solution that also acts as an algaecide and fungicide. Some use guns that can spray upwards of 30 feet, while others use a ladder to wash hard-to-reach surfaces. They will also typically include a scrub prior to the final rinse, which uses low-pressure water to clean without causing damage.

Most pros would agree that pressure washing is an art—not a “one size fits all” solution. You have to know about different types of siding, as well as oxidation and how it reacts to pressure, in order to pull off pressure washing correctly.

How Much Water Does Pressure Washing Use?

Many homeowners have concerns with how much water pressure washers consume, but it’s not as hefty as you’d expect. The average water use is around 8 gallons per minute. Most garden hoses, by comparison, use between 9 and 17 gallons per minute.

If you’re hiring out, some pros will bring their own water truck. It’s not common, but you can certainly include it in your criteria when you’re looking for pressure washing pros. Otherwise, if you’re still concerned, you can ask if they offer discounts for water usage.

Potential Risks of Pressure Washing Your Vinyl Siding

Your home’s vinyl siding is hard, but it’s not rock-solid. While a pressure washer can help get rid of months (or years) worth of grime, it can easily cause damage with the wrong settings. A professional pressure-washing contractor can help you avoid these risks.

Excess Water Buildup

Using too-high settings while pressure washing could cause water to penetrate beneath your vinyl siding, brick, or even concrete. This might lead to water building up in your attic, floors, or within your home’s walls.

Damage to Windows and Surroundings

There are only certain parts of your home that you can pressure wash safely. Getting too trigger-happy with a pressure washer can lead to slip-ups, such as accidentally spraying screens, windows, planters, garden gnomes, and more. One rogue blast could lead to hundreds in repair expenses, or a tearful goodbye to your favorite lawn ornament.

Mold and Mildew

If a pressure washer penetrates into your home’s interior, you could be looking at a whole new crop of mold and mildew. The same goes for the crevices between layers of vinyl siding. Extreme care is necessary to prevent the water from going places where it shouldn’t.

Removing Paint

If you’re not planning to repaint your home, use pressure washers with extreme caution. While pressure washing is fantastic for prepping before a new paint job, the same paint-lifting functions apply for a simple deep clean. This means you could cause paint to crack or flake off, leading to more work than you bargained for.

Dispersing Lead-Based Paint

For those with older homes that might contain lead-based paint, pressure washing can be dangerous for your family—or even neighboring families. Wanting this paint gone is understandable, but high-pressure pressure washing isn’t a safe solution.

If a pressure washer takes off lead-based paint, chips and other hazardous residue can disperse throughout your property. The same goes for other surrounding properties as well. It’s extremely important to use low-pressure or alternative cleaning methods if this is the case.

Pressure Washing: Is It Worth the DIY?

The exterior of a house with a deck
Photo: Andrea Rugg / The Image Bank / Getty Images

If you’re only concerned with brick and concrete hardscaping around your home, this is generally a safe DIY. Your home’s vinyl siding, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as durable. It’s possible to pressure wash it, but it’s best to leave this to an experienced pro.

Learning to pressure wash your home safely requires time, patience, and skill. Even if you research the right tips for pressure-washing your house, there’s lots of room for error.

While it’s obviously more affordable to rent a pressure washer yourself, it's not worth causing damage to save a buck. Hiring a licensed, professional pressure washing contractor ensures a thorough clean without all the risks. 

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