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Question DetailsAsked on 4/19/2016

What type of contractor hand washes houses

My vinyl has become chalky. We discovered that using white vinegar removes the chalk and makes the vinyl look like new, but it has to be hand washed. Pressure washing did not work. What type of contractor do I call that will hand wash/brush the house?

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1 Answer


Some Pressure Washing companies do this, also a few exterior painters as fill-in work (but not likely this time of year) unless going to do the repainting too. Some Handymen will also do it, as well as a very few Siding companies.

You are absolutely right that, despite pressure washing company claims to the contrary, pressure washing generally does not remove all the grime, especially if a precipitated lime or clay (vinyl or paint filler) coating - you have to put elbow grease into it to actually clean it, which means pre-wetting, then spray with detergent and/or a very mild acid like vinegar or dilute muriatic acid, scrub well with a dense but not abrasive bristle brush (I like horse brushes with the strap across the back of the hand) moving ONLY parallel to the grain (or along the plank if no grain), then hosing or low-pressure washing it off.

This is definitely a multi-person job, because not only does a second pass commonly need to be done (and before first rinse dries otherwise the coating will reprecipiate on the vinyl and stick again), and also because someone has to be working below the scrubber keeping the lower material rinsed off and wet so the drippings from above do not stick to the lower portion of the wall. Generally, it is best to work from bottom up to top, then if a second pass is needed or some drips ended up staining the bottom part work from top back down. Also, VERY important to keep from contaminating and diluting the detergent/acid wash liquid with a brush that has been in contact with the wall, so you can't use a bucket to dip the brush in - need to spray the solution on the wall before brushing, so commonly this ends up being a three-person job if being done in a productive manner. Can generally take the better part of a day for a normal 1600-2000SF house so cost runs in the $0.50-1.00/SF range commonly - more in difficult access or protection requirement situations. More time if lots of plantings that need protection or upper level roof that needs protection below an upper wall or dormer being scrubbed, as the roofing needs to be continuously sprayed or tarped to prevent damage from any acid or bleach.

One thing about scrubbing it - if it is not uniformly done (and commonly takes two passes with second one before first dries to get it all) it can look pretty bad with hits and skips - so if not going to be done right you are better off with just a normal detergent wash and putting up with the chalking.

Make sure cleaning the windows is part of the scope, because they will need hydrogen peroxide and ammonia (or similar solution) cleaning afterwards or they will have nasty staining on the glass.

Of course, this is one of the major drawbacks of vinyl siding - both in terms of cleaning, and in terms of prepping for repainting as the chalking and oily soot/smog coating commonly causes paint failure when painting vinyl, which is one of the main reasons for the reputaation that vinyl cannot be painted.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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