Stucco is a unique type of siding that can be cleaned of mold and grime if the task is handled correctly.
Excessive pressure is not recommended when cleaning stucco surfaces and a gentler approach is necessary. It is important to understand the surface that needs to be washed in order to understand how to clean it.
Let’s first examine stucco itself.
What Is Stucco?
Stucco siding has been used for centuries and is a prominent feature in Mediterranean and Spanish architecture. It is extremely resilient and found throughout the United States and in many areas of the world. Stucco is made by mixing cement, sand, water, and lime. It can be applied as the final layer to both residential and commercial buildings. Stucco is extremely durable, the only problem with stucco is that mold and grime can be very difficult to remove from the surface once it sets in.
In terms of building materials, stucco remains a popular choice among many property owners today. Stucco can improve the exterior appearance of any property while simultaneously acting as an insulator. It is also eco-friendly consisting, as mentioned above, of limestone, cement, sand, and water.
Due to its textured surface, though, stucco can accumulate large amounts of dirt, grime, mold, and algae. Over time, these pollutants can not only age the appearance of a property, but they can also cause long term damage. You must pay attention carefully to your stucco surface and clean it properly when needed; ideally stucco surfaces should be cleaned two to three times a year.
Can You Power Wash Stucco Surfaces?
Stucco is a more delicate surface than other siding choices for houses. The force of power washing or pressure washing can damage the integrity of stucco and cause cracks and chips in the surface. If there are already cracks and chips in place from settling or the home being power washed at an earlier date, water could leak through from another power wash and cause damage immediately or at a later time.
The textured surface of stucco makes it hard to remove all of the dust and dirt with a pressure washer. Even if you can remove most of the dust and dirt, it is impossible to remove all of the mold using power washing or pressure washing. The reason for this is the amount of pressure needed to remove the mold would damage the integrity of the stucco surface. For all of these reasons, professional exterior cleaning companies do not recommend power washing or pressure washing stucco.
In summary, no, you cannot power wash stucco surfaces. You should not clean a stucco surface with a power washer or pressure washer. If you try, the result is likely to damage the stucco and your home. The swirling stucco patterns also prevent you from being able to remove all the mold and grime from these surfaces.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t clean a stucco surface. Read on.
How Do I Clean a Stucco House?
Step 1: Thoroughly Inspect Your Stucco Surface
Before you start with the actual cleaning, you must thoroughly inspect the stucco surface for any signs of damage. Try to find any gaps, cracks, or other flaws. Run your hands over the surface to find if there are any damaged areas. Put extra effort into checking the corners and edges as they usually deteriorate faster.
It’s an important step, as washing a damaged stucco can cause further damage to your wall. It may cause water to enter through the cracks, causing mold, mildew, and other unwanted fungi to grow. It can also lead to other types of water damage to the stucco surface or the wall behind.
Step 2: Seal Any Cracks
If you find any cracks in your stucco surface, it is imperative to repair them first before washing.
Minor damages can be repaired by the homeowners, though it may take several sessions if it’s your first time
To repair minor damages you must get an exterior acrylic caulk that matches the color of your stucco. You can easily get that at most home improvement retail outlets.
Apply the caulk to the damaged area using a caulking gun and paintbrush. Once done, apply any gritty material like sand to the caulk immediately. You must do it while the caulk is still wet. The gritty material will mimic the texture of the stucco. Give the caulk enough time to dry before starting the cleaning process.
If you find major damages you will most likely not be able to properly repair this by yourself. You must seek the service of a professional to help you with the repairs.
Step 3: Rinse
After carefully inspecting the stucco surfaces and repairing any cracks, it is time to clean your stucco surface. You will need to rinse down the surface with water first. This will clean off any loose dirt, dust, or debris. It is recommended that you use a regular garden hose or a household pressure washer (however, that will require extra caution).
If you choose to use a pressure washer, make sure the pressure level does not exceed 500 PSI (pounds per square inch). You should select a 25-or 40-degree nozzle as well. There should also be at least 24 inches distance between the nozzle and the stucco surface. Make sure as well that you rinse the surface at a 45-degree angle to avoid damage.
Step 4: Applying the Cleaning Solution
Knowing how to clean stucco correctly means understanding which cleaning solution to use. Lighter discolorations can be removed using a solution of liquid dish soap and water.
If there is mold or mildew growth, you will need to use a more robust solution such as bleach and water to clean the area. Combine equal parts bleach and water in a spray bottle.
You may also mix bleach with a concentrated stucco cleaner to clean the surface. You can purchase this type of cleaning agent at any home improvement store. Make sure to carefully read and follow the instructions on the label before using.
If you do not want to use bleach, you can substitute a solution of dish soap and Borax. Borax acid (the main ingredient in Borax) is an effective mold killing agent that is less toxic than bleach. For this cleaning solution, simply grab a bucket and combine 2 to 3 gallons of warm water with about ½ cup Borax and two tablespoons of liquid dish soap.
When working with bleach or Borax always use rubber gloves and goggles.
When using a single pump sprayer you must divide the wall into workable sections. This makes the cleaning process much easier. Start from the bottom and continue up until you reach the top.
Let the solution penetrate the stains deeply for about five to ten minutes. For harsher mold or mildew growth, you may let the solution sit for up to 30 minutes.
Step 5: Scrub the Stains Away
Once the solution penetrates the stains, you can now start scrubbing the stucco surface. Use a soft bristle brush to completely remove the stains. You can also use a rotating brush attachment to make the scrubbing easier.
Areas with heavy stains need a little extra scrubbing. Make sure to only apply mild pressure and don’t be harsh on the surface. This is important so you won’t damage your walls.
Step 6: Rinse Again
Once you’re done scrubbing the stains off you should thoroughly rinse down the stucco again. This will remove any cleaning solution left on the surface. Make sure you start the rinsing from top to bottom. Similar to the initial rinsing, you must use a 25- or 40-degree nozzle at least 24 inches away from the stucco surface.
Things You Must Never Do When Cleaning Stucco Surfaces
When cleaning your stucco surfaces there are things you must avoid. Some of the things you must never do so as not to damage your stucco surfaces are:
- DON’T scrub the stucco surfaces harshly as it can damage your wall. It’s best to do the scrubbing gently and apply only mild pressure.
- DON’T use too much pressure if using a pressure washer. Make sure that the pressure level won’t exceed 500 PSI. This can be tricky for a DIY and that’s why we recommend a garden hose.
- DON’T repair major damages to your stucco surface all by yourself. Let a professional do it to ensure that it is done correctly.
- DON’T let the cleaning solution dry on the wall. This will make rinsing it more difficult. Avoid this by spraying a little bit of water from time to time.
Let the Pros Handle the Stucco Cleaning
While you can clean your stucco walls by yourself, it’s always better to rely on a professional cleaning company to ensure optimal results. Professionals understand how to clean stucco without causing damage to the surface. They also have access to tools that most homeowners simply don’t have; tools that are specifically designed for this type of cleaning.
More importantly, they have years of experience doing this type of work and can help you avoid common mistakes that homeowners often make.
At Southern Style Soft Wash we have a soft washing technique that will keep your stucco home safe and free from damage and mold. In addition to using a soft washing technique, we have a unique cleaning solution that kills mold but protects plants and shrubs. When soft washing, our team uses only the amount of pressure you would find in a home garden hose to clean the stucco service. The solution used will kill the mold at its roots and eliminate all the ugly discoloration and grime. A light rinse with water will then remove the dead mold without forcefully cracking the stucco surface with excessive pressure.
If you need a professional to clean the stucco surfaces of your home, get in touch with Southern Style Soft Wash. If you have any questions, our goal is to be able to answer them and provide as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision.