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What is Soft Roof Washing - An Expert Explanation

June 16, 2021

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What is soft roof washing? If you’re a homeowner or commercial property owner, it’s vital you understand the importance of regular power washing and the best pressure washing system for your home or business. Knowing the difference between power washing, pressure washing, and soft wash roof cleaning ensures you make the best choice for your property!

Soft wash roof washing starts with specialty cleansers, meant to dissolve thick dirt and grime. Low-pressure rinsing them removes that dirt and debris, without stripping shingle granules or risking blowing those singles and tiles right off the roof!

Before you go another season without scheduling exterior power washing, or attempt DIY roof washing and potentially damage your structure’s shingles and tiles, you might note some vital information about this work and especially why it’s good to leave it to a pro. This will ensure your home or business is always in good condition and looking its best!

How Does Soft Washing Work?

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To better understand soft washing, consider various pressure washing techniques and what makes them different. This will also help you make the best choice for your property!

Power washing versus pressure washing

Pressure washing refers to any cleaning using pressurized water. If you attach a nozzle to the end of your garden hose and use that to spray down your car, as an example, you are technically pressure washing the vehicle!

Professional cleaners will use different pressure, measured in pounds per square inch or PSI, for various surfaces needing cleaning. Softwoods like cedar might require just 500 to 600 PSI, while other surfaces including stone and brick might require 1200 to 1500 PSI.

Power washing is pressure washing using hot water, rather than lukewarm or room temperature water. Hot water helps dissolve grease and oil, so power washing is often used for driveways and commercial parking lots, to break down motor oil and other fluids. Power washing is also helpful for cleaning oily and greasy tools or for dissolving adhesives or sticky items including paint, sealants, and even chewing gum!

What is soft washing?

Soft washing uses strong detergents and cleansers meant to sit and dissolve dirt and other debris. These cleansers also seep into the pits and pores of property surfaces, including all those little nooks and crannies along a roof, the surfaces of concrete and stone, and other hard-to-reach areas.

After giving those cleansers time to work, a low-pressure rinse, usually only about 500 PSI or even less, is then used to wash everything away. This low-pressure rinse is typically just slightly stronger than that nozzle or sprayer you might attach to a garden hose. Soft wash cleaning is an excellent choice for materials that might otherwise get stripped, chipped, or damaged under high pressure cleaning.

Soft Wash Vs. Pressure Washing

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While a power washing contractor will note the best choice for materials around your property, you might note why soft wash systems are preferred for virtually every area needing cleaning. One advantage is that specialty cleansers ensure a thorough clean, rather than trying to reach all those nooks and crannies along a roof, exterior wall, and other spaces with a power washer. Those cleansers seep into all those hidden spots, dissolving thick dirt you might otherwise overlook with a power washer!

Homeowners also might not realize how easy it is to damage exterior surfaces with high-pressure cleaning, including materials that might seem very durable and strong. Using too much pressure on outdoor areas is actually one common DIY mistake, resulting in stripped shingle granules and even dislodged shingles and roof tiles, chipped stone and brick, etched wood surfaces, torn window and door screens, and even shattered glass!

High-pressure washing also means the risk of messy splatter and splashing. In some cases, you might clean one area but the splashing from that spot ends up on another surface, so you trade one mess for another! Using too much pressure can also dislodge paver stones and gravel or kick up dirt between concrete sections.

Property owners might also assume that especially dirty areas or tough stains needs more pressure for proper cleaning, increasing the risk of damage! Instead, it’s recommended that you switch cleansers or use a specialty soft-bristled scrub brush meant for outdoor surfaces rather than high pressure rinsing, to avoid damage.

Is Soft Washing Safe?

Soft washing is not only safe, it’s often preferred for virtually every surface of your property’s exterior but especially for those prone to damage during pressure washing. For example, too much pressure on wood decks and fences can lead to etching and long streaks in the wood which can often only be removed with a thorough sanding!

Soft washing reduces those risks while providing a thorough clean. The cleansers used won’t dry out materials including wood and asphalt shingles. You can then use soft wash cleaning even on surfaces and materials you might otherwise avoid with high-pressure washing, including glass, window and door screens, aluminum, and stone pavers.

Pressure Washing a Roof

commercial soft wash systems venice fl

Standard pressure washing is never recommended for a roof no matter its material and construction! Shingles are especially prone to damage during pressure washing; high pressure tends to strip granules and even pull the shingles from their nails and the roof decking.

High-pressure washing is also dangerous for clay tile, slate, metal, and other materials. Too much pressure can crack clay and stone, while also making it easy to get water underneath metal panels and flashing. You can even chip the brick of a chimney stack or dent and crack roof vents with high-pressure washing equipment.

Soft wash cleaning is a preferred option for roofs. Those cleansers get into all those pockets and nooks of roof eaves and construction materials, dissolving thick dirt, mud, sand, and other debris. Low-pressure rinsing then removes those residues without stripping shingle granules, cracking tiles, or dislodging shingles and tiles from the roof’s surface.

Supplies for Soft Roof Washing

Most over-the-counter cleansers are a mixture of various agents, each with their own particular use. Pressure washing contractors might also mix up their own cleansers, to ensure a proper clean of various surfaces and materials, and to address dirt, mud, mold, and other contaminants.

· Bleach is an excellent material for killing mold, mildew, algae, moss, and other living contaminants. It can also help break down stains and ensure a clean, hygienic surface, such as for wood decks and patios where the family gathers and where you might cook!

· While bleach is used for killing mold and other harmful growth, it doesn’t necessarily dissolve dirt, mud, dust, and everyday debris. Bleach can also just run down a surface rather than sitting and dissolving dirt and grime. Surfactants reduce “surface tension” of water, helping it stay in place so it and other cleaning agents can dissolve dirt and grime. (see https://www.jracenstein.com/learn/expert-advice/what-chemicals-do-i-need-for-soft-washing/a278)

· Odor neutralizers are often added to cleaning solutions, to eliminate bleachy smells and any other overwhelming cleaning odors. These are often citrus based, as citric acid eliminates odors while also helping to cut through grease and grime.

· Vinegar solutions help dissolve grease and grime, and are often used where hot water might damage materials, such as for roof shingles and wood decks and fences.

· Neutralizers are often sprayed after power washing; these dissolve bleach and other cleansers so they can rinse away completely, reducing the risk of damage to a roof, plants, and other materials.

How Often Should You Soft Wash a House?

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While most properties need power washing every two to three years, how often you should soft wash your house depends on local conditions! Some neighborhoods are actually dirtier than others, meaning your house is going to get coated with dirt and debris more often than usual. Note a few quick tips for determining how often you should power wash your home and outdoor surfaces.

· Lots of engines nearby will result in a home and especially a roof coated with soot and air pollution residues before too long! If you live near a busy highway, marina, or airport, consider annual soft wash cleaning.

· Storm residues including leaves, twigs, acorns, seeds, moss, and other dirt and grime can result in roof damage. If your area has a particularly stormy season throughout the year, invest in soft wash cleaning for your home.

· Sand, silt, and other gritty debris can work their way in and around roof shingles and tiles, risking premature damage. Homes near the beach and especially large water bodies might need annual pressure washing, if not even soft wash cleaning twice per year!

· Homes in the tropics or any area with high humidity levels are also more prone to mold, moss, algae, and mildew growth. Consider annual or semi-annual cleaning as needed to keep these contaminants at bay!

· If you suffer from allergies, asthma, or other breathing disorders, and especially if you live near any source of heavy pollen, remember that your home can get coated with irritants easily. Consider annual power washing to remove dust, mold, pollen, grass clippings, cigarette smoke, air pollution residues, and anything else that might otherwise bother your sinuses when you’re trying to enjoy your outdoor space.

· Outdoor cooking can easily coat your home with soot and airborne grease. Have exterior walls, the deck or patio, and other spaces cleaned every year before you close them up for the season, to ensure a clean and pristine space.

· Adjust your cleaning schedule according to your family’s everyday use. For example, if you have large pets that tend to drag mud and dirt across the patio, schedule soft wash cleaning every year, to keep those surfaces from getting permanently stained. Cars parked in the driveway can mean unsightly oil stains, so schedule annual cleaning to prevent pavement damage.

Soft Wash Cleaning: Why Leave This Work to a Pro

While soft wash cleaning is safer than traditional pressure washing, this doesn’t mean you should attempt to clean your property and especially a home’s roof! One vital consideration is your safety; being on a dry roof is dangerous enough, but once it gets wet from washing, it’s even more slick and dangerous.

soft wash roof cleaning procedures

Pressure washing is also more complicated and involved than you might realize. A professional will have training and experience in mixing cleansers according to various surfaces and the dirt or debris needing cleaning, to avoid damage. He or she will also choose the best nozzle, for controlling the pressure of cleaning as well as the width of the water spray.

Professional power washing contractors will also have access to commercial grade equipment designed to offer a thorough yet safe clean. For instance, he or she might use a special rotating brush meant for stone, concrete, and other surfaces, to remove thick dirt, pool chlorine residues, and gritty debris.

A professional will also know what surfaces should be washed with a pressure washer, even with low-pressure rinsing. For example, some very soft stones, old and rotted wood, painted surfaces, decorative glass, or plastic materials might etch, scratch, or outright chip and crumble during power washing. A professional power washing contractor can suggest other cleaning methods and the best cleansers for a thorough yet safe clean.

Remember, too, that a professional power washing contractor will be insured! While it’s unlikely that they might splinter wood, blow some shingles off your roof, or otherwise damage surfaces around your property, their insurance should cover the cost of repairs and replacement in the rare event that this should happen. That coverage alone should be reason enough to rely on their services for all the power washing you need to have done.

ProClean Pressure Washing Venice is happy to explain what soft roofing is, and hopefully you found this information helpful. If you’re in the area and have more questions about soft wash systems, or need a reliable Venice FL power washing contractor, give us a call! We provide FREE  quotes and guaranteed services for all the pressure washing you need to have done. For more information or to get started with your convenient service appointment, give us a call today.

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