The minimal maintenance vinyl siding requires is one of its main appeals to homeowners. For many, the reduced maintenance requirements of plastic siding even outweighs its lower cost. While this durable plastic does not need to be painted or stained like wood siding, it is not exactly maintenance-free. Routine maintenance is important to preserve the appearance and integrity of the siding.
Cleaning Maintenance Vinyl Siding Requires
At least annual cleaning is recommended to keep vinyl siding looking its best. There are many products that you can use to clean vinyl siding, but the Vinyl Siding Institute recommends a simple clean cloth or a soft-bristle brush with a long handle. Be sure to start at the bottom and work your way up to the top to avoid streaks. As you work, remove any cleaning solution with water.
Start by rinsing the siding with a garden hose to remove the build-up of dirt and dust, preferably once in the spring and again at the start of fall. Otherwise, the siding will begin to look very grimy and it will be difficult to clean. After rinsing loose dirt away, use a mild detergent like laundry soap and a sponge or a car-wash brush to scrub away more persistent debris. Along with powdered laundry detergent mixed with water, you can also use a solution of water and white vinegar or one cup of oxygen bleach diluted in one gallon of water. Oxygen bleach can safely clean vinyl without damaging any nearby landscaping.
Never use cleaning products with undiluted chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, organic solvents, or furniture polish, as these cleaners can damage the surface of the vinyl. It’s also important to avoid abrasive scrubbers.
While it is possible to use a power washer to clean vinyl siding, always read the instructions first and be sure you hold the power washer straight. This keeps the water on top of the siding. Aiming the device upward can force the water underneath the siding, where it can cause water damage to your home. Use a pressure of at least 1,500 PSI and no more than 2,400 PSI with a 40-degree tip to avoid cracking or splitting the vinyl. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations before using a pressure washer, as some advise against it completely.
Removing Stains and Substances from Vinyl
Vinyl can develop mold and mildew spots, and the maintenance vinyl siding requires includes occasional mold removal. This can be done easily using a solution of 70% water and 30% vinegar. Routinely check the shaded and moist areas of your home for mildew growth. You may also notice what appears to be mulch residue on your vinyl, which is likely residue from artillery spores in the mulch itself. There is no cleaner that can remove these spots. The only option is switching the type of mulch you use and replacing the stained sections of siding.
Other types of stains or marks, such as rust or crayon stains, can usually be removed with Lestoil, Murphy Oil Soap, or Windex. According to Georgia-Pacific, a major manufacturer of vinyl siding, caulking compounds and tar can be gently removed with mineral spirits applied directly to the substance. After the substance is scrubbed away, the vinyl should be immediately rinsed with water.
Protecting Vinyl Siding from Damage
Vinyl is prone to discoloration from sealants, wet concrete,and stains, as well as some herbicides and insecticides. Always cover the siding before performing renovation projects and check the product labels of any products before applying them to the siding.
Vinyl siding can also melt when subjected to intense heat, such as from a barbecue grill or intense sunlight. Strategic placement of trees and landscaping elements, as well as the use of shades on windows, can protect the integrity of the vinyl and avoid warping and melting.
The siding itself will not rot like wood, but it can hide moisture problems. Investigate streaks or stains on the vinyl. As needed, re-caulk any joints between the siding and adjacent trim. Be careful with lawn mowers, snowblowers, and other metal items near the vinyl, as it will crack if damaged. Cracked sections cannot be patched; they will need to be replaced.
Vinyl siding is growing in popularity with more homes throughout the country now finished with vinyl. Along with being easy to install and never requiring paint, it’s very easy to care for with very little work. The maintenance vinyl siding requires is minimal, but it’s important to perform this maintenance at least once a year to keep the siding vibrant, clean, and crisp.
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