Can pressure washers be used on cedar siding? As long as the sprayer is set to a low pressure, pressure washing can be used to clean cedar. It is important to avoid damaging the wood's soft surface, so using a low pressure and not working too closely to the siding is necessary.
The Cedar Bureau recommends using a solution no stronger than one-part bleach to three parts water. Apply it with a pump sprayer and let it sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off with a garden hose. Be sure to keep the hose pointed downward to avoid forcing water up behind the shingles.
Unlike aging cigars in a cedar box, aging cedar siding on your home may require the occasional pressure washing. Cedar shake siding will grow algae and mold if it's not cleaned once in a while. Algae and mold will cause deterioration and discoloration to your cedar siding.
There is a common misconception that just pressure washing a deck prior to staining is all you need to do in order to prep your deck for stain. Pressure washing can help, but if you want your stain to last, using a good deck cleaner and brightener on the deck prior to pressure washing will provide you the best result.
Prepare your cedar siding by washing it with soapy water to remove any dirt or dust (if any has accumulated). After you have washed it, wait for it to dry before applying any stain to the cedar.
If you have a cedar deck, power washing is acceptable but only on a very low pressure setting of no higher than 800 psi. Some manufacturers recommend an even lower psi. Cedar is very soft, and higher pressure can permanently damage the wood.
The best way to restore your cedar siding or cedar fence to its original glory is with soft washing. Instead of the robust streams of high-pressure water used in pressure washing, soft washing uses a low-pressure technique with a special mixture of highly effective and biodegradable cleaning solutions.
The most common culprits are tannins, mildew, and mold. Tannins ordinarily leach from cedar wood, and do not normally cause any problems. However, when tannins mix with metal and iron, a chemical reaction occurs and a black stain can form. Cedar, along with any other wood, is a natural habitat for mildew and mold.
For instance, you might be tempted to clean wood siding with a pressure washer, thinking it would make quick work of things. Do so at your own risk. Using such a high-powered tool can actually cause several types of damage, including stripped paint, gouged boards, and loosened caulk.
If your cedar is still in good condition and isn't well-weathered, a clean and reapplication will do the trick. To recoat Western Red Cedar, give it a gentle scrub with warm, soapy water to remove dirt and mildew. After the cedar is fully clean and dry, reapply your chosen finish as before.
Simply put, Oxiclean is an all-purpose cleaner that incorporates hydrogen peroxide to remove the toughest stains, debris, and organisms such as mold or mildew. Whether your siding is aluminum, cedar shingles, or vinyl, it can be cleaned using products such as Oxiclean.
Algae and molds can be cleaned quite easily and effectively with bleaching agents such as sodium hypochlorite (liquid household bleach) and sodium percarbonate (the active ingredient in some commercial cleaners). Bleaching agents quickly kill mold and algae, but they also can degrade wood.
Mold can grow on cedar when high relative humidity exists. The high humidity results in a moist atmosphere due to the excessive water vapor. The vapor clings to the porous cedar and can contribute to mold growth.
The best woods for bleaching include oak, beach, ash, and gum. Varieties like poplar and pine are already so light that removing further natural wood color might render them bland and lifeless. Others, like cedar, redwood, rosewood, and cherry don't take bleach well.
Semi-transparent stains are your best bet when you want the real look of slightly weathered cedar with protection. The few solid particles in this mix will not significantly obscure cedar's wood grain. However, with semi-transparent stains, you will need to take care with the application.
Real Cedar in its Raw Form
But, if this is no longer the desired effect, you can usually get your siding back to its original color with wood brighteners, cleaners and restorers. But first you have to sand off the top layer of “skin.” After that, clean, dry and inspect the wood for mildew.
You simply keep the wood siding wet with the oxygen bleach solution for 15 minutes. It will remove the mildew and deep-clean the siding. Lightly scrub the siding before rinsing with clear water from a garden hose. Avoid the temptation of using a pressure washer.
You can also use a dish soap and water mixture to clean your deck. Fill a big bucket with water and dish soap so you have a good, foamy consistency. Pre-rinse your deck with a garden hose, and then use a soft scrub brush to work the solution into the wood, ensuring that it doesn't dry out while doing so.
While there are many deck cleaners available on the market, we have found a solution of warm water, TSP (trisodium phosphate), and a small amount of bleach (or powdered oxygen bleach like Oxiclean) to work really well and be very cost-effective.
Cedar offers a durable option for exterior and interior building projects with natural resistance to rot and decay, so a protective finish is optional. If you want to enjoy the aroma of varieties such as Western Red Cedar and incense cedar, leave the wood unsealed.
If you leave cedar wood untreated, it will not succumb to the devastating effects of mold, rot and insect damage. However, it will lose its typically golden-brown color.
A good “rule of thumb” is to clean vinyl siding every 2 to 3 years. It's not recommended that you go longer than just a few years without power washing, as homes might hold lots of dust and debris that homeowners overlook, and pressure washing also cleans away bothersome insect nests and termite tunnels.