On Monday, the painters came out to officially start work on prepping our house for fresh paint.  The weather forecast wasn’t great (the weather man was calling for rain starting around 1:00), but their first step was to pressure wash the house and that was able to be completed in just a few hours, so it worked out well.

Since the house is so tall and climbing a ladder with a pressure washer just isn’t too safe, they really focused their efforts more on the areas they could reach from the ground or a porch roof.  The plan will then be to clean up the other areas of the house (that they weren’t able to hit as well with the pressure washer) as part of the sanding/scraping step.  Even though they stuck pretty close to the ground, though, I was amazed at how the paint just fell off the house.

Here’s a pre-pressure washing photo of the front that I took a month or two back:


And here’s what it looks like post-power washing:


It looks bad, right?  We knew that some of the paint was in bad shape and we expected a lot would come off with scraping, but I was surprised how much just the pressure washing step removed.

I don’t have before pictures of the rest of the house, but here’s what the other sides looked like after power washing:




It surprised me that the paint in the back (north side of the house) actually held up better than the front (south side of the house).  I guess sun must be harder on paint than moisture.

They also pressure washed the areas of the garage that could be reached from the ground and the paint came off there even more than the house.

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There were a couple of things that kind of surprised me after seeing the results of the pressure washing.  First off, it looks like the house was once painted a much creamier shade of white.  It’s hard to say if that was the original color or if it aged over time, but we definitely found some cream paint under all of the layers of bright white.


Also, it looks like, even though the previous owner put a fresh coat of paint on one side of the house each year, it probably hadn’t been primed in a really long time.  This was especially noticeable on the siding above the sunroom where the paint was peeling really badly before the house was washed and where a ton came off as a result of the pressure washing.


In a way, I’m thinking it’s really a good thing that so much of the paint is coming off, especially if this continues as they scrape & sand.  It will provide a really good base for priming the house (and then painting it) and should also help to make the next paint job a little smoother, with less caked on paint and scaling, which we really noticed (and didn’t like) about the old paint job.  The downside, though, is that the house is definitely looking a little worse for the wear for the time being.

The area around the power meter was probably in the worst shape.


The paint on most of the house looks alligatored like this. The painters refer to it as “checked” and say it is because the bottom layers are likely lead based.  We’re hoping the new paint helps with this.

So, we’re currently waiting for the house to dry out (both from the pressure washing and also from all the rain this week), but as soon as that happens, the painters are planning to be back on site and will start with scraping and sanding, then priming, and finally painting.  The current plan is to work on one side of the house from start to finish before moving on to the next side so that the whole house isn’t in a fully scraped state at the same time.  It’s so exciting to finally be making progress toward actually having the house painted … even if it is looking worse before it (hopefully) starts looking much better!

Filed Under: Home Improvement,Painting


2 thoughts on “Pressure Washing the House

  1. Gillian says:

    Wow… power washing that whole place is a BIG job.

    We have white siding on our back extension that we power wash, but its the plastic kind so no paint to come off! We also have a painted fence that we tried to power wash with similar results to what you ‘re describing: http://rowhousereno.com/posts/power-washing-the-patio.html#.U2eoIoFdWE8

    We decided to just “live with it” looking bad until we replace the fence entirely…

    It will be so worth the “looking a bit worse for the wear” once the new paint is up on your house. Can’t wait to see how it looks!

    1. Sarah says:

      Yes, huge job. I felt so sorry for the guy that did it – he was soaking wet and covered in dirt and paint chips by the time he was done. He looked absolutely miserable.

      It looks like the pressure washer did an amazing job on your siding – it’s like new! As far as painted surfaces, though, it seems pretty hit and miss. I’ve been trying to convince myself that what we’ve got going on just adds to the character of the house. Ha. Really, I’m totally itching to see some fresh paint go up! It’s got to be better than this, right??

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