Although exterior wall coatings and some exterior masonry paints are technically self cleaning, houses next to busy roads can pick dirt up over time.
Here is how to clean the outside walls of your house in the professional way, and with minimal equipment or knowledge.
On a few properties, more especially ones with a heavy textured exterior wall finish, will collect dirt over the years, leading to an untidy appearance.
It depends on where you live, local climatic conditions, the overall quality of the finished product, and your own personal preferences really.
The level of texture on the wall can also make a difference, as can the substrate.
A textured masonry wall coating on a pebbledashed house will appear more textured than an exterior coating on a smooth render wall.
Keeping textured exterior wall coatings looking great.
As above, from time to time SOME houses with a textured exterior wall coating do require cleaning, but I stress, only some houses, not all.
Some properties with a weatherproof wall coating, especially ones located in rural areas, will keep their colour and overall finish for up to 20 years and do not require cleaning.
Most exterior coating products are more or less based around the same ingredients, and applied in a similar fashion.
If a house has picked up dirt on the outside walls, it needs cleaning off for sure, and you may find once the dirt is off the house looks better and does not need repainting.
The quality of the paint application is very much the thing to consider.
Many “cowboy” decorating or wall coating jobs of course have not lasted long.
The key to an exterior wall coating paint finish lasting a long time is that the coating must be applied PROPERLY by someone with the correct equipment, who knows what they are doing!
So if in the past, you have had an exterior wall coating installed on your house, take a look at it next time you go outside. Does it look like its been freshly done, even though it may be 5 years old?
If not then it may possibly need a light clean. (Note the word LIGHT. If you damage wilfully, the coating on your wall, any guarantee that came with your paint will be invalid)
Be careful and if you don’t feel confident, call the company who painted your house and ask if they provide this service, although a small charge may be made.
How do I know that the paint coating on my home requires cleaning?
If your house has a special wall coating system installed and it requires cleaning, it would normally have a dull or dirty external appearance.
Often roadside homes collect a greasy sort of dirt, which also collects on UPVC window frames, requiring a regular clean. This is especially common if the windows are fairly new as they will have a waxy finish from the factory, which is a magnet for dirt and pollution.
Try and recall what your house looked like when you 1st had it painted, or see if any photos were taken when the house was freshly painted.
The coating becoming dirty, for example, would be especially likely if you lived near a main road, railway line or industrial estate.
If it looks duller and dirty, then perhaps its time it had a light clean.
This will freshen the whole building up and in most cases, make the outside of the house look like its been freshly painted or wall coated again!
And remember, if you are doing it yourself, its like having your house exterior painted again for free!
How does the exterior wall coating actually get dirty? I thought they were self cleaning?
Well, to some extent, wall coatings ARE self cleaning but again it depends on many factors, but in most cases, small airborne particles of dust or dirt settles on the top of each tiny piece of texture in your wall coating.
These pieces are normally perlite, or crushed marble.
They give added strength to the coating, and improved protection against the weather.
When the dirt and dust settles on a wide area of the wall, it gives a dirty appearance, and its time for a quick clean! Another way that coatings can become stained or dirty is leaves and dirt etc from surrounding trees and bushes.
And its also worth mentioning that if you have a coal fire, or if your neighbours enjoy a coal fire, the soot from the chimney can also be a factor in making your exterior walls dirty
“So how do we go about cleaning OUR exterior coating?”
Well, if you are confident that you can do it, the first thing you should do is make sure all doors and windows are closed!
Also make sure that pets and children are well away from the work area. TREAT WHAT YOU ARE DOING SERIOUSLY AND YOU SHOULD BE FINE!
Make sure that any pot plants are moved away from the house, if possible, move patio chairs and tables away, and a good thing to remember is don’t do this in the middle of winter.
This is because the water from the hose or power washer will freeze when it hits the ground and would make the outside of your home and driveway very hazardous underfoot.
The water will of course wash straight off the wall (with the dirt), as coatings are inherently waterproof and weatherproof, but the water has to go somewhere. Make sure there is adequate floor level drainage around your house
What things would I need to correctly clean a protective exterior wall coating?
To clean an exterior wall coating, you will need a garden hose with a spray jet nozzle OR a LOW PRESSURE powerwasher, the type you would use to clean a car with, definitely NOT the type you would use to clean driveways etc with as it could rip the coating off the wall.
As a spray applied coating is seamless, it would also probably come off in big sheets and you would then have to pay the wall coating company to come back and fix it!
So that’s an important point to note.
You would also possibly need wet weather gear and wellies or rubber boots. For the over zealous, eye protection can also be worn, as can protection on your head.
You will need a stiff broom or yard brush also.
If the jet pressure on your house is not that strong, you may need to use equipment to properly reach the 1st floor elevation etc. Ladders, portable tower scaffold, cherry picker or other access equipment, that you are familiar with and confident and competent to use safely.
What method of cleaning wall coatings should be used?
Ask the company who originally did the work, if they provide service before you do it yourself, or at least ask them for advice as some companies may void their guarantee if someone works on the coating they installed.
Its a long shot, but sometimes worth asking, just in case.
Generally you should be ok with using a normal garden hose with a spray attachment to clean your walls.
The only power washer you should use would be one that is normally used to clean cars with. if you use a powerful one, it will rip the coating off the wall which would be expensive for you to have us fix!
You would then simply point the powerwasher or hose at the wall and away you go!
Using a power washer to clean an exterior wall
Test a small area at ground level first, to get a feel of how thorough you will need to be once you start cleaning the entire wall.
If you are using a powerwasher, please remember that some of them have a “kick” when the water under pressure is released, so be ready to dampen that kick with your hands and arms or whatever, as it could set you off balance.
Once you have ascertained you are confident to clean the wall coating, start at the top of the house and work downwards, swaying the water jet from left to right in a gentle fashion.
Sometimes its best to repeat the process until the wall is clean to the desired standard.
Remember, once you get to the very bottom of the house, depending on the floor surface that directly joins up to the walls, you may need to be more gentle with the very bottom (or plinth) of the wall as dirt from the floor may spray up and make it even dirtier!
Make sure after you have finished that you hose down and sweep the floor up, then put all equipment safely and securely away.
Points worth noting when planning to clean a spray applied exterior textured coating
- Always use the correct equipment (see above)
- Work safely and don’t take risks.
- Always use a LOW pressure hose or power washer.
- Only attempt cleaning if the house is under about 22 feet or a normal 2 storey house.
- If there are 3 levels including the ground floor, its best to get a contractor in to do the work for safety reasons.
- Keep pets and kids away. WELL AWAY.
- If you live in a terraced or semi detached house, be respectful of your neighbour and don’t soak their house and garden. If their car is on the drive, why not politely ask for it to be moved whilst you are working on the house. If they are not too keen, why not offer to powerwash or clean their driveway as a favour, which often does the trick!
- Most importantly of all, if you are not confident with doing the work, get someone in to do it for you.
What if I you are not confident to carry the work out?
Well, your first port of call should be the company or painting and coatings contractor who originally did the work.
Many coating crews take pride in their work and are more than happy to meet up with old customers.
(This can also be a good time for them to get more work in your area, from referrals, if they are any good that is! And with the credit crunch biting, I would suggest that contractors would be pleased of the extra work).
If this is impossible or impractical, or heaven forbid, the company who did it has gone to the wall (if you pardon the pun), then why not call another exterior wall coating company who do a similar type of wall coating that you originally had?
They may well charge you for this service.
They may also be pleased to be able to advise you on the best course of action, if it is something that they could not help you with: they may know someone else in the trade who can help you.
Lastly, you could approach a professional cleaning company, but again, if they are unfamiliar with the wall coating system, they may cause more harm than good, so beware, and only use that as a last resort.
Please note we do NOT normally offer a wall cleaning service.
Hopefully by now, we have given you enough information to be able to identify if your exterior wall coating requires cleaning, and the steps you need to take to get this plan into action.
Textured exterior wall coatings are the long term solution to yearly painting.
Good luck and we hope that soon, your home will be sparkling clean again, just like the day the exterior wall coatings job was finished!
If we can help you with anything else, please call now or contact us via email for a quote!