Painting Prep: Three Steps to Take Before Power Washing

You can't have an excellent exterior paint job without excellent preparation of the surfaces to be painted -- a process that involves power washing to remove dirt, mold, algae and moss.

However, preparation begins before you or -- preferably -- a power washing professional, directs water under high-pressure against the walls. Here are some problems to correct first.

1. Trim Back and Protect Plants Close to House

Move container plantings away from the house or commercial building and cover them with drop cloths during the power cleaning. A chalk-like residue from the walls may cling to and even smother plants. Cover in-ground plantings close to the foundation after trimming them back to make room for workers who will do the washing and painting.

By the way, make sure that you or the professional uses a biodegradable detergent for the washing so soil isn't polluted.

2. Eliminate Ivy

Removing ivy from walls is a task that you or a professional painter can accomplish.

Ivy clings to walls with tendrils that grow into stucco, stone and other kinds of siding. Tug it off gently to avoid damage to the walls. After all the vines are gone, you'll notice a tracery of fuzzy roots.

It may be impossible to remove all the roots, but the best method for eliminating as many as possible is to scrub them with a wire brush. Test your brush in a small area to see if it is strong enough to remove the roots yet not so stiff that it mars or crumbles siding.

3. Remove Animal Nests

Small wildlife nest and sometimes cache food in gutters and their downspouts. Areas for repainting where they find home ground include soffits, under eaves and on walls.

When nests are abandoned, most are easy to remove. However, if they contain eggs, animals or stinging insects, it's wise to call on a professional wildlife removal service. Don't expect your professional painting service to do it.

Birds. As the website The Spruce notes, you can be fined for removing active nests of native birds (nests with eggs or adults). Before removal, it's necessary to identify the species occupying the nest. Unless you are an avid birder, this may be easier for a wildlife professional to do.

You won't be fined for removing the nonnative house sparrow, which often lodges in building vents and crevices. The Humane Society of the United States says to remove the nests when no young are present and close off openings with materials such as netting and hardware cloth.

Squirrels and chipmunks. Keeping tree branches trimmed back to three feet away from your house helps to discourage squirrels from seeking rooftop real estate. Similarly, repairing any openings in the soffits under your roof's eaves keeps these rodents out as well. Consult with your painting service about whether they have staff who can repair soffits.

Chipmunks are mostly ground dwellers. But they may create blockages in gutter systems by crawling inside downspouts to store food. Blocking gutter openings with materials through which water can travel is a good prevention.

Using live traps and tempting foods, a wildlife removal service can capture squirrels and chipmunks for relocation to non-residential areas.  

Mud daubers and wasps.Mud daubers don't live in large "social" nests and are less aggressive about stinging. They build mud tubes on exterior walls. If a dauber nest is empty, it's easy to ply off the wall with a flat, sharp tool. Social wasps and hornets are more dangerous. They live in paper-like, globular nests that you sometimes find hanging from eaves. It's best to leave their removal to pest professionals.


Reliable, professional painting contractors St. Charles relies on, such as Prime Time Painting, offer many preparation services, including power washing. Contact us to answer your questions and learn about the services we provide.