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Cleaned the exterior to my satisfaction.

Article by Michael A / May 4th, 2023

How long after pressure washing can you paint over

Are you excited to give your home’s exterior a fresh look with a new coat of paint? Before diving into your painting project, you should ensure your surface is clean and prepped for optimal paint adhesion by pressure washing it.

But before you paint, there’s one significant question you need to answer: how long after pressure washing can you paint over a surface?

It’s a critical question to ask yourself, as slapping on that fresh coat of paint too soon can lead to a disastrous and frustrating outcome. The last thing you want to do is ruin your hard work by painting too soon and having your brand-new paint job peel off.

In this guide, we’ll outline everything you need to know about painting after pressure washing to ensure your paint job looks professional and lasts a long time.

Why Should You Pressure Wash Before Painting?

Pressure washing a surface is one of the surface preparation steps you should take before painting. Whether you want to paint your siding, fence, or deck, pressure washing the surface is crucial for several reasons, including the following:

Removing Dirt and Grime

Over time, your house siding or deck will accumulate dirt, grime, mold, and debris due to outdoor elements like rain, snow, and wind. Pressure washing the surface will eliminate all this gunk, so your paint job adheres better and lasts longer.

Removing Old Paint

If you’re painting over an existing coat of paint, pressure washing will strip away that flaking or peeling paint and give you a clean surface to work on. However, it’s not recommended to DIY old paint removal through pressure washing.

You need to use a higher psi of over 2000 to remove the paint, which could cause damage to the underlying surface. So, if you’re faced with a stubborn layer of old paint, it’s best to leave the job to experienced pressure-washing professionals.

Treating Mold and Mildew

Your surfaces may have accumulated mold and mildew, especially in areas with moist climates. You can treat the mold using the right detergent on your pressure washer before painting. An example would be a well-diluted bleach solution or a special mold-removing detergent to wash away the mold and prevent it from returning after a paint job.

Precautions to Take During Pressure Washing

While it’s important to pressure wash your surfaces before painting, there are several precautions you need to take, which include the following:

  • Use a low-pressure setting to avoid damaging the underlying surface
  • Don’t use a narrow nozzle since the narrower the nozzle, the higher the pressure
  • Use a fan spray nozzle instead of a stream nozzle to disperse the pressure
  • Keep away from windows and other vulnerable structures
  • Hold the nozzle at least eight to ten inches away from the surface you’re cleaning
  • Move the nozzle in even strokes and avoid keeping it in one spot for too long, as it may leave behind marks on the surface.
  • Wear protective gear like safety glasses and a face mask while pressure washing.

Is It Compulsory to Pressure Wash Before Painting?

Before you decide to pressure wash your surface, there are some factors to consider, including the existing condition and age of the surface.

For example, if you’re painting a new fence or deck recently sanded and treated, pressure washing is unnecessary, and you can proceed with the painting process. However, if you’re painting an old fence or deck exposed to the elements for a long time, it’s best to pressure wash it first.

Pressure washing is also not necessary if you have been keeping up with regular maintenance. This includes regularly cleaning your surface with a mild detergent like dish soap to remove dirt, grime, and debris.

How Long Should You Wait Before Painting? 

Experts recommend draining the pressure-washed surface between 24 hours and three days before painting. However, several factors affect the drying time and how long you wait. These key ones include the following:

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions such as humidity and temperature will affect how long your surface takes to dry after pressure washing. Lower temperatures, higher humidity levels, and a lack of sunlight will lengthen the drying time, while warmer temperatures and sunny skies will speed up the process.

Before scheduling a painting job, consider the weather forecast for the next few days. If there’s a chance of rain, it’s best to avoid painting until the weather clears up.

Type of Surface 

Porous surfaces like wood, bricks, and composite usually take longer to dry than metal surfaces or vinyl. The porous surfaces absorb more water and take longer to dry out completely.

If you want to paint over a porous surface like wood, you should wait at least three days or a week, depending on the weather. However, if you pressure wash a vinyl surface, it should be ready to paint within 24 to 48 hours.

The Type of Paint You Intend to Use

If you intend to apply latex-based paints on your surface, you don’t have to wait for days before you can begin painting. If the weather is sunny, you can apply this type of paint after only 24 hours.

However, you should only apply oil-based paint to a completely dry surface. If this is your go-to paint option, you should be patient enough to allow several days between pressure washing and painting.

Your House’s Position

If your house is in an area that’s constantly exposed to sunlight, the drying time will be shorter compared to a house that’s in a shaded area. The sun will speed up evaporation and increase air circulation, resulting in quicker drying time.

Why Should You Wait Before Painting After Pressure Washing?

If you’ve been longing to give your house a facelift, you might feel tempted to start painting the surface immediately or a few hours after pressure washing. But is this the best move? The simple answer is no, and here is why:

High Risk of Paint Bubbling

The moisture won’t evaporate quickly if you paint over a wet surface. The high moisture content will cause the paint to bubble or blister in some places as it dries out. Bubbling is an alarming sign that your paint job will not last long and you’ll have to repaint sooner than expected.

Poor Bonding

The paint won’t adhere to a wet surface, and you might soon notice peeling and cracking. The result will be an uneven finish, and the paint will peel off faster. Plus, any dirt or grime on the wet surface will prevent the paint from adhering properly, which could lead to discoloration of your walls.

Risk of Mold Growth

Painting over wet surfaces can also increase the risk of mold growth and other fungal diseases. Mold spores thrive in damp, dark places, and moisture trapped under the paint film is a perfect environment for them to grow. Mold will damage your walls and be hazardous to your health if it’s not identified early enough and treated accordingly.

Tips for Painting After Pressure Washing 

When it’s finally time to paint, you should do everything right to get a smooth and long-lasting finish. Here are a few tips that you need to keep in mind:

Choose the Right Paint

The paint you choose will depend on the type of surface you’re painting, your preferences, or your budget. There are three main types of paint to choose from, acrylic, latex, and oil-based.

Latex paint is water-based and made from synthetic binders such as polyvinyl acetate and acrylic resin. It expands and contracts depending on temperature fluctuations, so it’s ideal for temperature-sensitive surfaces such as vinyl.

Acrylic paint is porous and can allow water to escape from surfaces, so it can resist mildew since it won’t trap water. As a result, you can use it on porous surfaces such as brick and concrete.

Oil-based paint is considered one of the best because it’s more durable than latex and acrylic paint. The paint can withstand the elements and is also resistant to scratches and water. It will create a smooth, hard surface when it dries, giving your walls a glossy finish.

Apply the Paint Properly

When painting, you need to make sure that you apply the paint evenly and use thin coats so that it won’t bubble or crack. You should also be careful not to overwork the paint, as this will create more bubbles.

In addition, take into account the drying time of the paint you’re using, as it can vary between different products. Generally, oil-based ones take about eight hours to dry to the touch, while latex will dry in just an hour. You can recoat within 24 and four hours, respectively.

Maintenance Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Paint Job

Once your walls have dried, there are still some things that you can do to ensure that your paint stays looking great for a long time. These include:

  • Regularly inspect your walls and clean them with mild soap if they become dirty
  • Use non-abrasive cleaning tools to remove dirt and grime from your walls
  • Carefully pressure wash the painted surface at least once a year to avoid dirt buildup and mildew growth
  • Apply a sealant to protect the paint from moisture and other environmental factors.

Let Professionals Handle the Pressure Washing Part

Pressure washing your walls is necessary before applying paint, and the quality of the result depends on it. For the best results, you should hire a professional pressure washing company like Advantage Pro Services to pressure wash your surface without causing damage.

We have more than 20 years of pressure washing experience and have successfully serviced more than 13,000 homes and businesses in Houston. We have the tools and expertise to ensure your walls, deck, fence, or other surfaces are properly cleaned before applying any paint. Check out our full list of services to see what we can do for you.

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