Keeping a home or commercial building’s exterior clean and looking its best takes some work. When most property owners decide to clean their roofs, siding, or sidewalks, their minds immediately turn to pressure washing companies. Don’t start the search for a good pressure washing company yet, though.
While pressure washing is a very effective means of removing dirt and grime, it’s not the only option for exterior cleaning, and it’s not always the best one. Sometimes, soft washing is a better fit. Read on to find out about the key differences between these two exterior cleaning techniques and their applications to figure out which will be a better fit.
What Is Pressure Washing?
Pressure washing, also sometimes called power washing, is a specialized means of cleaning surfaces using water and high pressure. Trained pressure washers use heavy-duty machines to clean driveways, walkways, and other concrete surfaces. It’s important to hire a professional pressure washer with all the right safety gear because this technique utilizes highly pressurized streams of water that can cause substantial injuries and damage.
There’s also a more specialized form of pressure washing used primarily in commercial and industrial settings. It’s called power washing, and it utilizes even more powerful machines and hot water to remove organic matter, chemicals, and stains.
What Is Soft Washing?
Soft washing is a safe and eco-friendly alternative to traditional pressure washing. Some companies, such as A+ SoftWash, offer soft washing as a less potentially destructive alternative to pressure washing in primarily residential settings. Since the machines used for soft washing only reach a pressure of 500 PSI or lower, there’s less chance of damaging sensitive materials.
Instead of relying only on the pressure of the water to remove dirt and debris, soft washing also involves the application of specialized cleaning solutions. Soft washing can thus be considered an appropriate method for cleaning things like roofs, siding, and even stucco, but only if it’s carried out by a trained professional.
Key Differences Between the Two
At first glance, these services may seem very similar. In fact, some companies can perform both pressure washing and soft washing, and many utilize the same equipment outfitted with different tips and set to a higher or lower PSI depending on the application. That doesn’t mean homeowners can treat the two distinct services as though they are the same.
Soft washing and traditional pressure washing have different applications. Pressure washing is perfect for cleaning solid, porous surfaces like concrete, so it’s ideal for driveways, walkways, patios, and outdoor stairways and walls. However, pressure washing can cause significant damage to softer organic materials. That’s where soft washing comes in.
Since soft washing doesn’t involve applying extreme pressure, it’s more appropriate for most residential settings. It won’t strip off protective coatings or cause shingles or siding to come loose when performed on residential homes as an exterior cleaning technique. Soft washing can be used to clean:
- Cedar shakes
- Vinyl siding
- Wood panels
- Screens and enclosures
- Outdoor furniture
- And even outdoor rooted plants
If homeowners had these surfaces pressure washed, they would wind up with a mess on their hands.
The Cleaning Process
Pressure washing involves applying only water to surfaces being treated. That’s part of why pressure washing machines must be set to an extremely high PSI. It loosens the dirt so that technicians don’t need to do so either manually or chemically.
Soft washing involves the application of a cleaning solution, which is then washed away using a less highly pressurized stream of water. It’s important to work with a company that uses eco-friendly cleaning solutions since they will be washed onto the ground or sidewalks as the process is completed.
Potential for Harm
Pressure washing is much more dangerous than soft washing, especially if the equipment operators don’t know what they’re doing. The highly pressurized water can cut through some materials, and handling the stream takes a good deal of strength and know-how. Even if performed correctly, pressure washing can damage materials that aren’t strong enough to withstand it. It should be reserved only for solid, non-organic exterior building materials like concrete, bricks, and pavers.
Soft washing is less dangerous than pressure washing in that it doesn’t utilize as heavy a flow of water. That said, homeowners still shouldn’t go out and try to do this important, challenging work themselves without professional help. While it’s possible to rent pressure washing machines at some home improvement stores, they can’t always be set to a low enough PSI to use soft washing techniques safely. Plus, homeowners still run the risk of damaging exterior building materials and landscaping plants if they direct the flow to the wrong place.
Time to Complete
Pressure washing takes less time than soft washing, but not by much. If property owners hire reputable companies that take the time to train their employees well and provide them with high-quality equipment, soft wash technicians will be able to complete their work efficiently. Homeowners should be able to go back to using their outdoor spaces almost immediately once the job is done.
Keep in mind that expert soft washing and pressure washing technicians never cut corners to save time. Homeowners should expect to receive an accurate estimate of projected completion times, but don’t ask the techs to speed things up. Rushing the job can lead to missed spots or even create safety concerns.
Choose a Company That Does It All
Since pressure washing and soft washing utilize the same equipment, but different techniques, some companies provide both services. It’s always best to choose a company that offers a wide variety of services, from commercial and industrial pressure washing to soft washing roofs.
When homeowners start the search for the right exterior cleaning company, they should look for contractors who are licensed, insured, and thoroughly trained. Don’t be afraid to ask questions before scheduling an appointment to find out how much experience the technicians have and what guarantees the company offers regarding the quality of service.