Siding covers your entire house – if it doesn’t look clean and well-maintained, your home can appear uncared for. Now that we’re heading into warmer weather, tt’s all about curb appeal. And who wants to sit in the backyard staring at streaked aluminum siding? Spring is the ideal time to spruce up your home’s exterior: it fixes any winter damage and helps you get ready for summer.
Start with an Inspection
Walk around the property with binoculars. Examine the roof for any debris or damage that could impact the siding on a rainy or windy day. Do the same for the gutters and downspouts. Inspect the gutter system for sagging gutters or missing sections – either condition can allow water to pour directly down siding, leading to mold growth and other types of water damage.
If you do find something that needs your attention make an action plan that includes a “complete by date” so that roof repairs or cleaning the gutters won’t be forgotten.
Trim back Shrubs
Trim back any shrubs and tree limbs that grow too close to the house. Vegetation that rubs against siding, especially sharp branches can cause scratches, cracks, and holes that let in water and compromise the siding’s protective finish.
Use the Right Tools and Chemicals
A general rule of thumb, regardless of the kind of siding, is to use tools and chemicals that are blunt-edged and non-abrasive.
Siding materials react to chemicals in different ways, but most types of siding including cedar siding, aluminum siding, and vinyl siding can be cleaned with a homemade solution of water (3 parts) and vinegar (1 part).
To remove stubborn stains add a mild liquid detergent to the water/vinegar cleaning solution.
When you need to use a commercial cleaning solution, check to ensure that it is compatible with your siding material.
Avoid using harsh chemicals, undiluted bleach, nail polish, and organic solvents such as alcohols.
A soft cloth, a soft-bristle brush (long, short or no handle), and a garden hose are the basic cleaning tools for cleaning siding manually.
To Power Wash or not to Power Wash?
There’s no denying that using a power washer can make cleaning your siding a lot quicker and easier. However, some manufacturers don’t recommend the use of a power washer because it could damage siding: materials such as aluminum siding can be easily dented under certain conditions. Check the manufacturer’s instruction manual for specific recommendations – for example, they might suggest using the power washer on a low setting.
If you do decide to power wash the siding, aim the nozzle downward instead of upward. Directing the stream of water in a downward trajectory reduces the chance of pushing water in behind the siding panels.
Cleaning Siding Manually
When cleaning siding by hand, it might seem intimidating and a never-ending chore. Here are some ways to make cleaning the siding manually a lot more manageable.
Pick a side: One side of a house is typically dirtier than the others – it makes sense to start with the grimiest exterior wall.
Start at the bottom: For siding that has been installed horizontally, begin cleaning at the foundation and work your way up to stop streaks from forming.
Start at the top: For siding installed vertically, start cleaning at the roofline.
Clean in sections: Clean horizontal siding the full length of each lap – five laps, for example can be one section. For vertical siding, use “landmarks” such as from one window to the next.
Rinse often: Use a garden hose to rinse off each section before it dries to prevent the siding from drying unevenly.
No pressure: While you might need to scrub those stubborn stains and patches of dirt, avoid putting unnecessary pressure on siding panels.