Cleaning The Exterior Of Your Home

How to clean all types of house exteriors.

There are a couple of reasons for cleaning the exterior of your home. One is appearance. A dirty house just doesn't look good; especially if you are trying to sell the house. Perhaps you are getting ready to paint the house. Dirt should always be removed before painting.

Your first task is to pick a rainless day. You want the house's covering to be as dry as possible. You also don't want to work in the rain. If you are using a hose to clean your house you will get as wet as you want without the rain. Pick a nice, sunny, hot day for the water hose approach. You also want to make certain what covers your house - stucco, brick, fiberglass/aluminum siding or wood. Each cover has a different means of cleaning.

If your house is stucco, first repair or cover any cracks or holes in the stucco. You don't want any cleaning material getting in behind the stucco. If it does it will probably remain damp and thus turn to mold. Wall mold can eventually be very dangerous to your health.

Perhaps the best way to clean a stucco house is a simple water hose and brush. You do not want the water to be under too much pressure because high pressure may disturb or damage the stucco. A good low pressure hose, a bucket of soapy water and a good size bristle brush will do the job. This may take a while, depending on the size of your house, so plan accordingly. Another method is to connect to the end of your hose a container that can hold liquid soap. Thus when the water flows it travels through the container and the container's soap is mixed in with the water as the water is sprayed. These hose attachments are often used for spreading liquid fertilizer. Most lawn and garden stores sell them.

If you have a brink house, first seal or cover any cracks or holes. If the dirt lightly covers the brick any of the water styles mentioned for the stucco house will work. Brick is sturdy though and can stand up to high pressure water. Most rental stores now offer such items - pump and hose. Be careful with this tool. It is a great cleaner, but if the pressure is too high the water jet can cause damage to the house or even you. Be especially cautious around windows not to break the window glass or let the high pressured spray force water in around the windows. Remember the warning about mold. Wear eye protection when you use high pressure wands.

In very severe cases you can sandblast a brick house. This style sprays some harsh material under high pressure onto the wall. This can be extremely dangerous for amateurs as it projects a hard material at high speeds. Some rental stores will rent this equipment but I suggest you hire a professional for this task. The high pressure and hard material makes it very easy to force the material into cracks or holes. It also makes it easy to break windows and can even destroy the brick or its mortar.

Siding now comes in many materials - aluminum, fiberglass, particle, etc. In general the same rules follow for this type as others. Cover or repair holes and cracks. Avoid getting wet material behind the siding. Any of the above mentioned cleaning approaches will work for siding. Some siding, over time, especially older aluminum siding, may become stained. Special cleaners are available at hardware stores for this type of siding. Be careful though. Many of these cleaners are very caustic. Before you use them on your siding make certain you try them on a small hidden area of the siding to make certain they don't damage the siding. You should also wear rubber gloves and eye protection. Be careful about high pressure blasting. Beyond the cautions already mentioned, this high pressure blasting can pit, ding or dent metal siding.

Last is wood siding. Same rules apply about holes, cracks, dampness and mold. Same rules apply for low pressure water, high pressure water and sandblasting. In fact sandblasting is seldom used for wood. It is just too strong for wood. It can destroy or damage the wood pitting it or even cracking the wood. High pressure water cleaning and sandblasting will almost certainly remove any paint from the wood.

A few general tips to remember. Good dish detergent often works best as a cleaner and is mild enough that it won't damage the exterior of your house. However, if the dirt is too strong for dish detergent you will want to explore stronger cleaners. Be certain to first try the cleaner on a small and hidden part of the exterior to make certain it won't damage the siding. Next, keep in mind that harsh cleansers are often caustic and environmentally unfriendly.

Reaching the eaves of your house will require some help, usually in the form of a step ladder or an extension ladder. Follow all the rules for safe ladder use. Make certain the ladder is in good shape, it is secured, you don't stand on the top rung and you don't lean out so far from the ladder that you lose your balance. If you have a large building to clean you may want to explore a scaffolding system. It is not only safer, but it makes the work easier. Rather than having to move the ladder every couple of feet you can work off a scaffolding platform covering a number of feet at once. Scaffolding can be rented at most tool rental stores.

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