Cleaning & Caring for Your Home's Exterior

Real Estate Agent with Steinborn & Associates Real Estate

Cleaning and repairing your Las Cruces home’s siding once every year will pay off in the form of a long life and value for your home.

With proper care and a little regular maintenance, your home’s exterior could be trouble-free for 50 years and more. I know an elderly man who has lived in his home for about 40 years and has had it cleaned every two or three years. The home still looks brand new and beautiful! Cleaning the exterior of your home removes dirt and mildew that may shorten the life of that exterior. A clean house protects your investment, too. A good first appearance on a home can add as much as 5% to 10% to the value of the home.

Cleaning wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, fiber-cement siding

All types of siding benefit from a good cleaning once every year to remove grit, grime, and mildew. The best way—whether you have wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, or fiber-cement—is with a bucket of warm, soapy water (1/2 cup trisodium phosphate—TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers—dissolved in 1 gallon of water) and a soft-bristled brush attached to a long handle. Divide your house into 20-foot sections, clean each from top to bottom, and rinse. For two-story homes, you’ll be using a ladder, so keep safety foremost.

Cleaning an average-sized house may take you and a friend every bit of a weekend. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. If you don’t have the time—or the inclination—you can have your house professionally cleaned for $300-$500. A professional team will use a power washer and take less than a day.

When confronted with selling a house that needs a little bit of exterior TLC, I highly recommend Engel Coatings&Siding. This is the company to call to get the job done. Trust me, I have seen some dirty houses, but after Engel gets finished with them, the transformation has always been impressive. It makes my job in helping you to sell your home as quickly as possible at the best possible price easier.

You can rent a power washer to do the job yourself for about $75 per day, but beware if you don’t have experience with the tool. One year my husband and I learned this the hard way. Power washers force water through a nozzle at high pressure, resulting in water blasts that can strip paint, gouge softwoods, loosen caulk, and eat through mortar. Also, the tool can force water under horizontal lap joints, resulting in moisture accumulating behind the siding. A siding professional has the expertise to prevent water penetration at joints, seams around windows and doors, and electrical fixtures. We are no experts, so the damage we caused afterwards was frustrating. Ever since then, we either call a professional or use the brush and water method.

Inspect for damage

Right before you clean is the ideal time to inspect your Las Cruces home for signs of damage or wear and tear. A house exterior is most vulnerable to water infiltration where siding butts against windows, doors, and corner moldings. For all types of siding, look for caulk that has cracked due to age or has pulled away from adjacent surfaces, leaving gaps. Reapply a color-matched exterior caulk during dry days with temperatures in excess of 65°F for maximum adhesion. As we all know, there is no shortage of days like those here in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Other defects include wood siding with chipped or peeling paint, and cracked boards and trim. If you have a stucco exterior, like most houses in Las Cruces do, be on the lookout for cracks and chips. For brick, look for crumbling mortar joints. Repair defects before cleaning. The sooner you make repairs, the better you protect your house from moisture infiltration that can lead to dry rot and mold forming inside your walls.

Repair cracked stucco

Seal cracks and small holes with color-matched exterior acrylic caulk. Try pressing sand into the surface of wet caulk to match the texture of the surrounding stucco. Paint the repair to match.

Take time to inspect and clean your house's exterior, and you’ll be rewarded with more time to concentrate on equally important priorities. If you’re considering selling your home or not, it’s always nice to know how to maintain your house to where you can always be happy and comfortable.


For more tips and tricks on the subject of making a quick and painless sale, we would be happy to share our e-book containing 450 ideas on how to sell your house for the best price possible.


Use this link to request your copy.


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Christine Farkas
Keller Williams Western Realty - Bellingham, WA
Awesome Customer Service Experience

This is very informative. Thank you for sharing Evelyn!

Jul 13, 2011 05:25 AM #1
Evelyn Bruder

My pleasure. I hope it helps.

Jul 14, 2011 09:33 AM #2
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