Put down that pressure washer

Are you using a pressure washer for all your exterior cleaning needs?

Plenty of people do—and plenty of people are harming their building.

A pressure washer is perfectly fine for a lot of exterior surfaces. But it’s not fine for all of them. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can not only do damage to the outside, you can actually cause damage that will shorten the life of the building.

Before you wash down the outside of your building, you need to figure out what you’re doing. Here’s what you need to know.

Types of cleaning

There are several different cleaning methods you can use for the exterior of a building. Any facade is going to start to show wear over time, and you’re definitely going to want to clean it, but the harshness of a high-pressure water blast can hurt some materials, especially if they’re older. Historic buildings are particularly susceptible to harm.

Stucco or EIFS can have problems if washed too harshly because the outside material can be compromised. Mortar can be blasted away from stone or brick walls.

Pressure washing is definitely an option for many buildings, but it’s not the only one. Low-pressure chemical cleaning uses a less-powerful blast with a specially-formulated mix of chemicals to clean deeply without the same abrasive properties. Dry ice blasting is a variant of sandblasting that uses a very light, residue-free medium. And ferrous stain removal uses organic compounds to remove oxides from porous exterior surfaces.

These methods and more will clean any type of building, from the most robust concrete wall to the most fragile vintage brickwork. A professional can tell you which will work best or if there are other options you should explore.

Calling a professional

You might not even know where to start if you’re calling someone to help. But here are a few things you need to ask about when you talk to them.

Experience. How much of this kind of work have they done?

Materials. How will they find out what materials are in use on the exterior?

Coatings and stains. How do they find out what coatings or stains have been used?

Protection. How do they protect the rest of the building’s fixtures and windows from damage?

Repairs. Do they repair the exterior before cleaning?

If you’re worried about choosing the right professional, just reach out to us here at JK Industries. We have long experience doing this sort of work on everything from historic buildings to new construction, and we’ll help you make your building look like new again—without harming the underlying structure.