What certainties do we have in life? A question that will indeed derive special remarks from varying kinds of people. Popularly, Benjamin Franklin liked to remind us about the certainties of death and taxes—kind of him. A homemaker might want to express the constant, never-ending stream of dirty dishes and laundry. Whatever our lot in life, there will always be constants to care for. Our business is cleaning the exteriors of residential homes and commercial buildings. Being situated in the Fraser Valley, it takes no wise guy to know that our weather makes for dirty surfaces. It’s widely understood that traditional pressure washing can tackle most exterior cleaning jobs. Since pressure washers are so easily accessible, they become the go-to choice for homeowners and small business startups. Hiring someone to pressure wash your home is easy. Soft washing is a newer method; it’s more involved and costs more than pressure washing. People are asking, “Is soft washing worth the money?” What goes unknown are some specific dangers and risks when using the pressure washing method. We want to help people understand those risks and how to mitigate them best. We’ll do our best to take an objective approach and answer your questions.
First, What is “Soft Washing”?
In actuality, soft washing is self-descriptive. It’s a cleaning method done “softly.” This is in stark contrast to the popularity of pressure washing, which involves only water at a high PSI spray. Pressure washing relies on the strength of water spray to remove dirt and grime. On the other hand, soft washing recognizes that spraying surfaces with this violence to clean is dangerous for homes and buildings. It instead utilizes specialized cleaning solutions to terminate bacterial growth quickly and effectively address other types of dirt and grime. When compared back to back, soft washing wins at four things:
- It requires much less work and time to clean a surface
- Instead of cleaning for appearance only, soft washing entirely terminates bacteria
- The results last for more extended periods because of their effectiveness
- This method reduces the risk of damaging surfaces and causing water damage
What’s Our Cleaning Mixture?
Our cleaning mixture largely depends on what surface we are tackling and what needs to be washed off. We use water mixed with sodium hypochlorite (“SH”) for nearly all surfaces. The exceptions are materials at risk of discolouration, such as wood shingles and cedar fencing. Every home and surface is different; we make necessary adjustments for each job. We have a selection of various surfactants for cutting dirt and grime. For driveways and other concrete surfaces, we have high-quality degreasers. This is helpful for grease that can accumulate from vehicles on driveways.
Necessary to Soft Wash Roofing?
- ALL ABOUT THE GRANULES
Asphalt-shingled roofs are the most commonly installed types across Canada. They are great at protecting your roof, repelling UV rays, and requiring minimal upkeep. Sometimes, they come with added copper or other biocides to deter the growth of varying algae. Asphalt shingles are produced with a base of organic material (such as tar) or made with fibre-glass. On the top, they are covered in small granules of different kinds: slate, schist, quartz, vitrified brick, stone, or ceramic. These granules are an integral part of a roof’s function. Preservation of these granules is paramount. This is why the industry warns against pressure washing asphalt shingles. Doing so will cause an excessive amount of granule loss, decreasing the lifespan of a roof. Soft washing is the ideal way to clean off a roof.
- PLAYING TERMINATOR WITH BACTERIAL GROWTH
In most cases, organic bacterial growth feeds on the granules and fibres of roofing material. If you do not have these growths successfully removed, they continue to feed and return in fullness of strength very quickly. Using our custom-blended cleaning solution, we’re effectively eliminating bacteria. Opting to use only water for roof washing, bacteria will never be dealt with in entirety. Some people have made use of store-purchased soaps to wash their roofs; however, the results have been less than ideal. For roofs, we utilize water and SH in combination with specialty surfactants. This way, we gain more viscosity and adhesive characteristics to latch onto organic growths and destroy them.
- RESULTS THAT LAST
When it comes to roofing, you have a few options. We’re not here to push you one way or another but to educate you on what’s available. First, you can neglect it, although this is the worst choice for longevity and appearance. Second, you can have it pressure washed, but we suggest this is not a good use of your money. You shorten the roof’s life, and it won’t look clean for very long. The final option is to have it soft-washed. This is considerate of the material your roof is made of, promotes it to look better for longer, and won’t harm your roof. If you are paying to have the surface of your home cleaned, why not ensure it will last the most time possible?
How to Clean Siding
- WATER PENETRATION
For most homes, siding is an added final outer layer. In the Lower Mainland, many homes are framed and sheeted in wood. Between the plywood and siding is a protective wrap. The siding is installed in a layered fashion to direct rain downward and prevent it from getting behind the siding. The most typically used materials are vinyl, hardie plank, and cedar shakes. When siding gets covered in dirt or bacterial growths, a proper cleaning method must be chosen. The risk of using a high PSI is that it’s impossible to mitigate water finding its way behind the siding. The trouble is completely avoided if the siding is washed with softly applied water. In turn, this mitigates water damage and rot.
- UNINTENTIONAL ETCHING
Hardie board has become much more commonplace in recent years. It’s made from concrete, easy to paint, and can last very long if treated right. With hardie board and wooden shakes, however, it’s essential to be gentle. These materials can scratch very easily. Washing these surfaces with high power can harm protective coatings such as paint and stain. They can also be etched with little effort while using pressure washers. If damage is done, it isn’t easy to repair. Another area where soft washing wins.
- BRITTLE AND CRACKING
Vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, aka “PVC”) is an extremely common siding type. It is essentially a highly engineered plastic. It’s gained wide popularity because of its ease of customization and lower cost than natural elements such as wood. Along with its many forms and styles come varying degrees of quality. A high-quality vinyl is thick, durable, and flexible. It also can come manufactured in a specific colour. This last point means extra coatings become unnecessary, leading to less damage that can be done to them. Vinyl is less porous than materials such as wood and concrete; however, it’s not perfect. Bacterial growth can still be found and should be treated effectively. Plastic lasts a long time, but not forever; with time, it loses strength, can fade, and can easily be cracked. We mitigate the risk of damaging aged and thin vinyl through soft washing.
The Best Method for Driveways?
- AVOID ETCHING CONCRETE
Most typically, driveways are made from concrete. They are not all made equally, however. They can come in many different styles, and sometimes colours too! When washing driveways poured in concrete, there are multiple factors to remember. While concrete is a tough surface, it is not impervious to harm. It’s common to see driveways being pressure-washed without much thought. This is unfortunate because of the ease of doing irreversible damage. Cleaning this way can lead to permanent etching, pitting, and leaving lines. Soft washing will avoid defacing concrete and do a superior job of purging the surface of dirt and grime.
- A DRIVEWAY’S PROTECTIVE COATINGS
Concrete is naturally a porous surface, which makes it easy for many kinds of dirt and unwanted growth to accumulate. It can also make it very difficult to clean properly. This is why most concrete driveways are top-coated in a clear, high-quality sealant. This helps protect against stains from normal usage. It can also make cleaning go quicker. These coatings do not last forever. High traffic and weather will wear these coatings down. High-pressurized water will also contribute to premature wear of driveway sealants. This is equally true of the protective coatings in asphalt driveways. In the industry, strong recommendations are given to altogether avoid pressure washing asphalt driveways. Concrete should be cleaned with soft pressure, surfactants, and degreasers. It’s also the ideal method prior to re-sealing. Asphalt should cleaned with low-pressured water and no chemicals or soaps.
- REAL REMOVAL OF GREASE, DIRT, & GRIME
Driveways of any kind can collect thick and dark greases from the regular usage of vehicles. While pressure washing can make quick work of dirt and debris, it fails miserably when being used to remove grease and bacterial growth. The application of solely water (if anything) only spreads grease. Attempting to wash away bacteria with water only does half the job. To soft-wash a driveway, use high-quality surfactants and degreasers. These customized cleaning blends are the best at tackling grease and organic growth. If bacteria is not dealt with suitably, it remains existent but is difficult to see. That’s why soft washing results last the longest.
Can You Do It Yourself?
Regular cleaning is necessary to keep homes looking good and extend the lifespan of surfaces like roofs, siding, driveways, patios and others. To some, hiring a contractor might seem an excessive expense. So, is it feasible to soft-wash on your own? While not impossible, you should be mindful of a couple of significant hurdles. First, accessing the chemicals for a self-mixed cleaning solution can get unreasonably costly. It can also be challenging to attain them in small quantities. Second, while a soft-pressured pump might be easily found, its application can be dangerous. Precautions in the application are advised.
How Much Does Soft Washing Cost?
Our job estimation page has starting prices for various surfaces around your home. Each quote is different, and there are multiple factors that our pricing is based upon. The first factor is discovering what surfaces need to be cleaned. Then, we assess the scale of the job. We look at the area’s accessibility; not all homes are equal. For example, roofs and siding become more time-consuming when they are more difficult to access. Finally, we assess what type of bacteria or dirt has accumulated and the quantity. The amount of dirt and grime affects how much and what kind of product we must use to wash it off.
We encourage you to review the information we have made available carefully. If you have doubts that soft washing is not the best and most cost-efficient method, please ask us your questions! It’s our goal to deliver the most valuable service with long-lasting results. We have chosen to offer soft washing services in the Lower Mainland because we completely believe in it’s superiority. We’re here for you when you’re ready to pull the trigger on absolute cleanliness, lasting results, and the longevity of your home.