Homeowners take various steps to protect their largest investment, their home. Exterior cladding takes the full force of the weather 24/7 and it needs maintenance. There are lots of different cladding materials including vinyl. It has the ‘look’ of wood without the rot/decay that always accompanies wood cladding. In spite of the fact that cladding is usually low maintenance, you still need to take care of it. Maintaining your cladding keeps its superior appearance and also helps extend its lifetime.
The question is…how best to maintain your cladding once you’ve made the investment?
Cleaning cladding yourself
The best and most effective way to clean your cladding is to wipe it down with a damp cloth. However, some dirt might be a little too entrenched on your cladding. If you find that a damp cloth doesn’t work, you can use a soft bristle brush to scrub away the caked on dirt.
If you need to scrub the cladding, begin at the bottom and work your way towards the top. The brush effectively loosens dirt and makes for easy removal. A common garden hose can wash away the residue without a problem.
If scrubbing isn’t really your style and you have access to a power washer, you can use this to clean your cladding as well. However, as always, there are a few caveats with which you need to be aware.
Keep the spray even with the cladding; never point the spray upwards so you don’t force the water behind the cladding and into the wall. Again, start from the bottom and work your way to the top. Give the entire wall a wash once you’ve made your way to the top.
One of the common afflictions associated with cladding is mold and mildew. These pests are probably best left to professionals like Peter Bracey to take care of. However, for the undaunted, you can use a power washer to remove both mold and mildew. Use a cleaning solution in conjunction with the sprayer function to help loosen them.
You can create a cleaning solution of your own using a combination of water, detergent and either bleach or TSP (trisodium phosphate). Spray this solution on the affected areas, let it sit for a few minutes (longer for larger areas) and power spray it off.
Don’t let these solutions sit for too long since many types of cladding will react adversely with the alkaline solutions. In addition, some cladding doesn’t respond well to other chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides. Be careful when applying these materials near your home.
Make sure you’ve covered any nearby plants/flowers when you spray these solutions. Also, make sure you’re wearing personal protection equipment (like safety googles) since both bleach and TSP are quite alkaline and can be irritants to both your skin and eyes.
Maintaining your cladding enhances the beauty of your home as well as extends the life of the cladding itself. You can clean it yourself or have a professional service take care of it for you—either way, it’s a great investment in the value of your home.