In the exciting world of Log Home Finishing, one of the truly awesome tools that we get to use is pressure washing. In the real world of log home finishing, using a pressure washer is one of the most misunderstood concepts in wood restoration. The skill of pressure washing with hot water and chemical is developed over many years, and there is not enough time in one discussion to explain it all.
A good place to start the discussion is 'where does the water come from'? I often hear 'my well right?' Log Home Finishing does most of our work in the High Rockies which is a climatic desert. The log homes we work on tend to be remote and have well water as a water source. Wells can not be used as a water source for pressure washing.
To begin, the PH of the well water in Colorado is normally high, over PH 8. Using water of PH 8+ to pressure wash is what leads to stain failure, moste notably finishes turning out much more orange or red than expected. Tangerine orange or apple red looking logs are an indication of alkali burn of the wood from ignoring PH during the pressure washing phase.
Secondly to pressure wash and strip a 2000 sq ft log home might require 4000 gallons of water. Wells are not designed to put out this much water at once, nor is your plumbing. If it is a secondary home with a seldom used well, the risk of running your well dry and damaging your pump and plumbing is literally a 50/50 shot. Luckily I've never personally been through the experience of destroying a well pump but I've heard of those that have, and the cost to repair a damaged well and plumbing could lead into the $10,000's.
A good pressure washing service will always start a project by determining the water source. The PH should be close to neutral or within the 6.8 - 7.4 range, and if you're on a well, do not consider using the well water to strip your log home.
Log Home Finishing LLC
'Foothills Water Delivery Service', Bailey, Colorado
Water Tank and trailer mounted hot water pressure wash set up
Jordan Pressure Washer set up and secondary 'buffer' water tank.
This is very good information and important for log home owners to know and understand. Pressure washing is an easy and inexpensive method for preparing a home for a new stain coat but great care must be taken in doing this. A pressure washer can destroy wood and make things worse. It is always best to use an experienced operator.
Pressure washing can also add moisture to the wood so it is important to allow it to dry to roughly to 18-20 % moisture content (or less) before coating. Obviously dryer climates will allow this to occur much quicker.