Should You Pressure Wash Your Log Home?
Owners of log homes often ask whether it is safe to pressure wash a log home. The short answer is yes — but there are some guidelines you should follow.
Pressure washing can be perfectly safe for your log home so long as you use the right technique. Always keep the wand moving, especially at higher psi settings, and use a wide fan setting. Holding the stream in the same place for too long or standing too close could damage the wood. Even moving too slowly can cause fan lines or visible marks. For your own protection, be sure to wear protective goggles and spray at an angle. You want to keep the stream from coming back toward your face while keeping your eyes protected just in case.
Pressure and Flow
Do your research and choose the right pressure washer for the job. For starters, pay attention to its rate of flow, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). When cleaning a log home, you will want to use a pressure washer that delivers at least 3 GPM, but preferably 4 GPM. Which setting you use also makes a difference. The most common recommendation is 1,500 psi, which is enough to remove minor UV graying. However, you may need around 3,000 psi to remove an existing stain or sealer.
A Word of Caution
Although pressure washing usually offers the best balance between affordability and effectiveness, it is not the best cleaning solution for every situation. For instance, you should be mindful of any gaps between your home's logs. If water can get through the gaps, you will need to either fill them or find an alternative. Also take note of your home's age and the condition of its wood. Newer logs will be harder and will thus be able to withstand higher psi, whereas decades of sun exposure may make older logs easier to damage.
Pressure washing may also be less successful at removing older linseed-based oil stains. If your home uses such a stain, you may need to apply a chemical stripper first. If you cannot achieve the results you want by pressure washing, consider cob or sand blasting; both are more effective but will also be more expensive.
For Best Results
Pressure washing will clean wood fairly well, roughening it up just enough to help it accept a stain. However, for best results, you may want to apply a cleaning agent first, such as Lime Clean wood cleaner. As a mineral-based alternative to bleach, this cleaner can be used to remove mill glaze, dirt, grease, mold, and mildew. Follow the directions carefully to clean your log home, then use a pressure washer with a 15-degree nozzle to rinse. Be sure to stand 12–24 inches away to avoid damaging the wood's appearance.
Keep in mind that results will vary depending on a variety of factors, from the age of your home to your own level of experience. However, as long as you use the right tools and technique, pressure washing can be a great way to clean your log home and prepare it for a new coat of stain.
Image via Flickr by Salvation Army USA West