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Should I Power Wash My House Before Painting It?

When it comes to painting your house, one important question that often arises is whether or not you should power wash your house before painting. Power washing can be a beneficial step in the painting process, but it also comes with potential risks that homeowners need to consider. 

In this article, we will explore the benefits of power washing your house before painting, the risks associated with it, best practices for power washing, factors to consider when deciding if power washing is the right choice, and the optimal time frame for power washing and painting your house.

Benefits of Power Washing Before Painting

Before you begin painting your house, it is recommended to power wash it. Power washing helps in removing dirt, grime, debris, and loose paint that may not be visible to the naked eye. By power washing your house, you ensure that you have a clean, dry, and dull surface to paint on, which is essential for achieving a smooth and long-lasting paint finish.

Power washing can also help in preparing the surface of your house for paint. It removes any contaminants that can interfere with the paint’s adhesion, allowing the new paint to adhere better to the surface. This ensures that the paint will last longer and provide better protection to your house.

Another benefit of power washing is that it saves you time and effort. Instead of spending hours scrubbing and cleaning the surface of your house manually, power washing can quickly and effectively clean the entire surface, including hard-to-reach areas. This makes the painting process more efficient and allows you to complete the project in a shorter amount of time.

Potential Risks of Power Washing

While power washing can be beneficial, it also comes with potential risks that homeowners need to be aware of. Here are some of the risks associated with power washing your house before painting:

Water in the Walls

One of the worst damages that can occur from power washing is water getting inside the walls of your house. High-pressure washers can shoot water at pressures ranging from 1500 psi to 3300 psi, which is the pressure that results when a 1-pound force is applied to a unit area of 1 square inch. If the water gets under the siding of a wood frame house, it can potentially soak the wall cavities, insulation, wiring, flooring, plaster, and more. This water damage can be expensive to repair and can lead to various issues such as mold and structural damage.

Missing Mortar

If you have a brick house, you might assume that it is safe to power wash. However, old bricks and mortar are softer than the newer ones and can easily be blasted away with high-pressure water. Power washing can cause the mortar to be almost completely blasted away, leading to the expensive task of repointing the brick house.

Gouged Wood

When power washing, some painters tend to get too close to the surface in an attempt to blast off loose paint. However, this can result in the water digging holes into the bare wood, damaging the siding and furring up the wood grain. This damage can be significant and may require repairs before painting.

Lead Paint

If your house has old paint that contains lead, power washing is not a suitable method of removing it. Power washing can cause lead paint chips to be blasted around the yard and mixed into the soil, posing a risk to children and the environment. It is important to follow safe practices for lead paint removal, and you should consult professionals if necessary. Ensure that your painter is doing a good job by looking for these key indicators.

Hardeep Gill, an experienced asphalt shingle roofer from North Vancouver, emphasizes the importance of considering the impact of power washing on roofing materials, especially when preparing a house for painting. According to Gill, ‘While power washing is an effective method for cleaning the house exterior, it’s crucial to protect the roof, particularly asphalt shingles, from potential damage. High-pressure water can dislodge granules from the shingles, reducing their lifespan and effectiveness. Therefore, homeowners should ensure that the water pressure is adjusted appropriately and that the roof is adequately covered or avoided during the power washing process.’ This insight underscores the need to balance the thorough cleaning benefits of power washing with the preservation of the home’s roofing integrity.

Best Practices for Power Washing

If you decide to power wash your house before painting, it is crucial to follow some best practices to minimize the risks and ensure a successful outcome. Here are some suggested best practices for power washing your house:

1. Keep your pressure washer wand at least 6 feet away from electrical wires and never spray water into outlets. Cover electrical sockets with duct tape or close the covers prior to washing.

2. Pre-scrub the exterior of your house with a scrub brush or spray it with a garden hose to remove any dirt, debris, or mildew. This will help in loosening the contaminants before power washing.

3. Use the appropriate pressure setting on your pressure washer. Higher pressures may be suitable for tougher stains or surfaces like concrete, but lower pressures are usually recommended for most house exteriors to avoid damage. If you’re unsure about the right pressure or you skip this prep step, you may end up with unwanted results.

4. Be cautious around delicate areas such as windows, doors, and delicate surfaces. Adjust the pressure or use a lower setting to prevent damage.

5. Test the pressure washer on a small, inconspicuous area before starting the whole house. This will help you determine the right pressure and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

6. Consider hiring a professional power washing service if you are unsure or don’t have experience with power washing. Professionals have the knowledge and expertise to handle the equipment and ensure a safe and effective power washing process.

Factors to Consider

When deciding whether to power wash your house before painting, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Condition of the Surface: If your house is only dirty or has some loose paint, power washing may be sufficient. However, if there are significant issues such as peeling paint or faded patches, a full paint job may be necessary.
  • Desired Look: If you are looking to change the look of your house or are not satisfied with its current appearance, power washing can provide a good foundation for a fresh coat of paint. By choosing the right colors and techniques, you can significantly enhance your home’s curb appeal through exterior painting.
  • Time and Cost: Power washing your house before painting adds an extra step to the painting process. Consider the time and cost involved in power washing and decide if it is worth it for your specific situation.

Optimal Time Frame for Power Washing and Painting

In an ideal scenario, it is recommended to wait for about three to four days after power washing before starting the painting process. This allows sufficient time for the surfaces, such as wood and brick, to fully dry. Painting onto wet surfaces can result in bubbling and imperfections in the paint finish.

Weather conditions also play a role in the timing of power washing and painting. It is not advised to power wash or paint during rainy or humid weather. Moisture in the air can prolong drying times and affect the overall quality and durability of the paint job. Wait for dryer weather conditions before considering exterior painting.


Power washing your house before painting can provide several benefits, such as removing dirt, grime, and loose paint, and preparing the surface for better paint adhesion. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with power washing, such as water damage and lead paint exposure. By following best practices and considering factors such as the condition of the surface and desired look, you can make an informed decision on whether power washing is the right choice for your house. Remember to also allow enough time for the surfaces to dry before starting the painting process.

Whether you’re considering a fresh coat of paint for your home or you’re interested in our power washing services, our professional team is ready to assist you across multiple locations. Our Maple Ridge painters, Langley painters, Richmond painters, New Westminster painters, West Vancouver painters, North Vancouver painters, Port Coquitlam painters, Coquitlam painters, Port Moody painters, Surrey painters, Burnaby painters, or Vancouver painters, will be happy to assist you. No matter your location, you can count on us to deliver quality service with expert knowledge. So don’t wait, get your house looking its best today. Reach out to our friendly tea, to get a free quote and consultation. We look forward to revitalizing your home’s exterior with you!

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