5 great reasons why you should choose PlanetGreen Powerwash!

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1. Owner-Operated: You get the most professional, personalized service in the industry. Other companies send technicians that will do no more and possibly less then what’s instructed by their companies. At PlanetGreen PowerWash, the owner will handle your every need directly and if we see spot areas that need to be cleaned during the service, we will take care of those areas as well at no extra charge. We do what it takes to ensure you are 100% satisfied with your clean.
2. Reputation: PlanetGreen PowerWash is an Angies List 4 time consecutive Super Service Award Winner with an A rating. We’ve also earned a 5 star rating on Yelp. Please take a moment to stop by and take a look at what our customers are saying. Why would you trust anyone else with your biggest investment?
3. Reasonably priced: Professional results at reasonable prices. Are we the cheapest? Probably not, but if it’s just the price you’re only interested in then we have to quote a certain famous gentleman who said it best. “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin.
4. Professional service: As a certified wood restoration specialist, the owner will explain in detail your options for re-surfacing your decks. Everything from what type of stain to use such as (oil/acrylic/latex) based on your surroundings, degree of vegation, more shade or sun, moisture levels etc. to the steps needed to keeping them maintained to ensure they stay healthy and like new for as long as you own your home. It’s not as simple as just throwing any stain on your deck if it doesnt match your surroundings.
5. Quality: Time is not money to us, time is quality and we will take as long as it’s needed to finish the job until its done right. We don’t just rush through your project because we have a heavy schedule. We get the job done right the first time, just ask our clients!

Bleach cleaning your deck, a recipe for disaster!

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Decks, fences, pergolas, even composite structures attract mold and mildew like any other non-porous surface. The problem here however is wood is not a non-porous surface and therefore should be treated as such. Lets break this down in Layman’s terms and keep it very simple.  Porous surfaces are areas covered with highly porous material that allow water from precipitation to pass through, yet are strong and durable enough to support vehicular or pedestrian traffic (i.e. wood). Non-porous surfaces are mainly smooth surfaces which the latent print resides on the surface. Examples of non-porous surfaces include glass, plastics, metals, and varnished wood. When we think of these types of surfaces we automatically use a bleach cleaner to clean and disinfect these surfaces so we would automatically think to use it on anything where mold or mildew is present. That is simply not the case and for very good reason.

The use of bleach as a mold disinfectant is best left to kitchen and bathroom countertops, tubs and shower glass, etc. The properties of chlorine bleach prevent it from “soaking into” wood-based building materials to get at the deeply embedded mycelia (roots) of mold. The object to killing mold is to kill its “roots”. Reputable mold remediation contractors use appropriate products that effectively disinfect properly scrubbed and cleaned salvageable mold infected wood products. Beware of any mold inspector, mold remediation contractor or other individual that recommends or uses chlorine bleach for mold clean up on wood-based building materials. OSHA is the first federal agency to announce a departure from the use of chlorine bleach in mold remediation. In time, other federal, state and other public safety agencies are expected to follow OSHA’s lead.  The public should be aware, however, that a chlorine bleach solution is an effective sanitizing product that kills mold on hard non-porous surfaces and neutralizes indoor mold allergens that trigger allergies. Mold and mildew is a vegetative growth, and NOT a type of dirt to be cleaned. It is produced by a tiny plant of the fungus family. It can sprout on most surfaces especially if a food source is present for the minifungus to thrive on, especially on paper and wood. Additionally, mildew can grow on the dirt and soil on them, especially in dampness. Mold spores (seeds) exist everywhere and will grow when the conditions are right. Like a weed growing on your front lawn, mold and mildew must be killed by an effective, acknowledged, E.P.A. registered disinfectant cleaner making mold and mildew claims.

The affects of bleach on decks/fences

Bleach is the old standard used for years. The chlorine kills algae, moss and mildew. BUT – chlorine breaks down the lignin that holds the wood together, causing excessive damage to otherwise healthy wood. Chlorine is dangerous, environmentally unsound, and likely to cause damage to surrounding greenery. The corrosive effects of chlorine bleach on wood decks are cumulative and are more numerous than you might imagine. Not only does chlorine bleach break down wood fibers and alter the color of wood, it also corrodes metal fasteners – including the screws and nails holding your deck together. Bleach literally bleaches the wood, resulting in a lightening of wood’s natural coloration. This bleaching effect may provide initially pleasing results, but over a period of several months the wood begins to take on a lighter appearance. The natural pH of wood is just slightly acidic, and bleach is a basic solution. As a result, use of bleach on wood shifts the pH from wood’s natural, near neutral, pH to a basic pH which will damage the cellular structure. As a cleaner, bleach provides minimal results. The natural bleaching action creates the impression of a cleaner surface which, in reality, is only bleached but still needs cleaning. Cleaning with bleach does kill mold and mildew which may be on the deck, but does not eliminate the spores from which mold and mildew grow.

Safer more effective alternative to using bleach

Sodium Percarbonate (Oxygen Bleach) is an excellent detergent and bleaching agent based on hydrogen peroxide. It is a good cleaning and bleaching agent at normal temperature, and has strong fungicide effect. (Fruits and vegetables treated with sodium percarbonate can be kept fresh, and be stored for a long time. In medicine, it can kill staphy lococcus, and colon bacillus). This product is a white particle powder, non-toxic no contamination, non-flammable, non-explosive, easy to get damp, and soluble in water. It is efficient, safe and economical. It is environmentally safe, biodegradable, leaves no harmful by-products or residues which can harm the environment. Except for industrial-strength cleaning or stripping jobs, sodium percarbonate is, hands-down, the choice for most average wood preparation jobs. Your first line of attack is undiluted hydrogen peroxide which is an oxidizing agent (JUST LIKE CHLORINE BLEACH) and should kill the mildew on contact within several minutes. However, hydrogen peroxide is a far safer substitute. Its chemical formulation is H2O2. As the excess molecule of oxygen is released during the oxidizing process, H2O (water) remains as its residue. Oxalic or citralic acid (deck brightener) must be applied after the Sodium Percarbonate has been used in the cleaning process. The deck brightener will restore the wood to its natural pH and neutralize the Sodium Percarbonate cleaner. This will provide for a beautiful finish when applying the final stain.

You paid a lot of money for that deck, why not keep it looking healthy and new for as long as you own your home!

Why shouldn’t you use a solid stain or paint on your deck?

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I guess the question can be, “why would you use a solid stain or paint on your deck”? Well I’ve gotten the same answer from many customers who say they simply don’t want to have to worry about re-staining or painting it for many years. I actually cringe when I hear that answer because all I  want to do is blurt out, “but you are destroying this beautiful deck!!!” Of course I simply smile and gently let them know that in all reality this actually does more harm than good. Let me explain.

The film-forming properties of these paints and coatings work against them in these situations. Penetrating semitransparent stains and water repellent finishes, on the other hand, do not generally peel or blister as they age. They fade and erode off the surfaces as they weather, making re-coating a much easier task. Wood is a dynamic substrate. Paints merely sit on the woods surface and do not absorb in effect offering little to no protection. Even though they’re made to be walked on, they are not appropriate for decks! Unless you paint the deck boards on all sides, floor paints will surely peel. This is because moisture will come through the bottom and sides of the boards and actually push the paint off!

Solid stains while excellent for the siding of your home, are not appropriate for decks! The product is quite soft, and will wear off quickly. Also, because it sits more on the surface, solid stains will peel in the same manner as floor paints.

The picture below shows a deck flooring that had a previous solid stain on the surface. As you can see after attempts of cleaning & stripping the surface with a stripping solution and low pressure, remnants of the stain remain. Sanding would be another option that becomes very costly to the homeowner. The second picture shows a much less costly alternative and that is to refinish the deck with a semi-solid stain in a like a color that will blend into the previous stain and look very nice. This will make it much easier to remove when its time to clean and re-seal and give the homeowner more options of changing to a different sealer tint.

To remedy all of this, keep your deck maintained with a semi-transparent oil based sealer. There are quite a few tints to choice from, much easier to maintain and save the homeowner hundreds to even thousands of dollars in the long run.


Bishop Before Clean Stain

Bishop after clean stain

Ready to hire a contractor to re-finish your deck? Make sure you understand what you’re getting!

By | Tips

Beware of the ridiculously low priced specials you may find advertised. These deals are volume based meaning, the goal for that contractor is to get as many jobs scheduled and completed as quickly as possible to make up for those crazy low priced deals. They may also try to up-sell you other services to help offset that special low price.

To prevent unnecessary repairs, your deck should only be trusted to a professional wood cleaning contractor – a contractor that professionally cleans or strips your deck’s existing finish, uses cleaners that are safe around your plants and landscaping, properly neutralizes and brightens your deck, and applies a sealer that will be effective in preventing future deterioration. And most importantly, take the time it needs to ensure its done right!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind before having the work done:

Paints and solid color stains are generally not suitable for horizontal substrates subject to the weather, such as exposed deck and porches. The film-forming properties of these paints and coatings work against them in these situations. Penetrating semitransparent stains and water repellent finishes, on the other hand, do not generally peel or blister as they age. They fade and erode off the surfaces as they weather, making re-coating a much easier task. Wood is a dynamic substrate. Since these penetrating semi-transparent stains do not form discreet films, they are better able to move and breathe with the wood during the weathering cycles. One thing to remember, the goal of keeping your deck maintained is to ensure the re-finishing process does not cost you an arm and leg when its time to have it re-done. Solid stain or paints can not be stripped without professionally sanding the surfaces to remove the old coating. This absolutely has to be done before applying a new sealant. If not, the sealant or stain will not penetrate deep into the wood and will only sit on top of the surface having zero affect of protection and peel off within months. Not to mention trap the old mold and mildew under the original stain causing further damage. Stay with an oil-based semi-transparent or if need be a semi-solid stain. These are much easier to remove, look very nice and provide the best protection.

When used on decks, bleach-based products can do more harm the good. Not only are they ineffective in removing dirt, surface deposit, gray and UV-damaged fibers – they can leave the deck with a whitish’ unnatural tone due to the bleaching out of components in the wood. Treatment with hypochlorite-based products can also result in premature graying of the wood.

The most common unprofessional method by the low priced contractor is to blast high pressure 4 inches away from your woods surface using no cleaning solution in order to save money.  Do not allow this to happen! If this is the method they plan on using than you know right away to steer clear of that contractor.

After the cleaning process a neutralizer or wood brightener should be applied and rinsed. This will provide for a more professional looking finish when the stain is applied and bring the wood back to its natural PH balance. You will not get this process performed with the cheap deals because its an added cost in supplies and labor.

Finally, make sure you know and educate yourself on the best type of oil-based stains to use when sealing your deck. Stay away from the store bought water based stains you find at Home Depot or Lowes. If you absolutely had to use one, only use Olympic stains and sealers for semi-transparents & semi-solids. They are considered a hybrid oil & water combination.

Picture 1: This is what happens when a previous stain is not stripped/removed and a new seal applied over top. Mold and mildew are trapped under the original stain.

Picture 2: This shows both layers of stain removed prior to re-applying a new sealant by PlanetGreen PowerWash.

Another rule of thumb to remember is no stain will last longer than 3 years max. No matter what the can states. It may still look nice cosmetically but the truth is, mother nature has already taken over and has begun to wreck havoc on the surface. Have your deck re-sealed every 3 years if possible and never go past 4. Look for wood preservative sealers like TWP or Armstrong-Clark.

The Importance of Pressure Washing Your Home

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Your home is your most expensive investment, obviously. A homeowner will keep it clean on the inside and sometimes pay for a maid service to come and clean it weekly. A homeowner will also hire a landscaping or mowing service to keep the yard and bushes trimmed and neat looking. When it comes to keeping the siding, brick, stone, or concrete clean though, most people don’t even think about it

A homeowner, or business owner, will probably look at a filthy driveway or sidewalk like it is supposed to look like a slum after a while. Well, that’s half right. After a while the exterior of any building will become filthy from dirt and grime, but, it is not supposed to remain unattended. A person will wash their car every week whether it needs it or not, but not even think about their house. Why?

Procrastination and “its not that bad” are the two biggest excuses. Dirt and grime only make your property stand out in the neighbourhood as an eye-sore, but mold and fungus are a really big problem. Mold and fungi are living organisms and, by definition, living things must eat. Well, what do you think they are eating? If a homeowner or business owner does not hire a professional pressure washing service, then those living things are going to eat right through the walls. Just because it does not ‘look that bad’ does not actually mean that it is ‘not that bad.’ Pressure washing companies are inexpensive and certainly cheaper than replacing a whole wall.

Many health problems are directly associated with mold so the last thing a person should want is to be surrounded by it. When mold and fungi are easily seen on the siding, brick, stone, deck, fence or concrete, then it has been time to have your house expertly cleaned. Pressure washing is a much more skilled trade than most realize. First, pressure washing is a real job, real work and real dangers. Pressure washing takes a great deal of know-how and experience. If a person puts 3000 or 4000 pound per square inch of water to a soft surface without being properly trained, the least that will happen is that a homeowner will spent a bunch of money on repairs.

Almost everyone has a wrench and a screw driver, but when your car breaks down, you know that you have to take it to an expert mechanic that knows what he is doing, The same is true for pressure washing. You will have a much better day and have much better results if you just hire professional pressure washers.

A complete house wash is recommended to be done at least once a year. Not only will it dramatically improve the appearance and increase the value of you home or business, it will save you a ton of money in future.

PlanetGreen PowerWash wins the Angie’s List 2013 Super Service Award!

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2013 super service award

PlanetGreen PowerWash has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the consumer review service in 2013. This award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service.

Founder & Owner,  Mike Phillips:

“All of us at PlanetGreen PowerWash would like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful clientele for helping us to achieve this prestigious award. We take tremendous pride in providing only the highest quality service to our customers and this award truly exemplifies our hard work in achieving that goal. We would also like to thank Angie’s List and their partnership in helping us to achieve this award. It has been a very rewarding relationship and we look forward to another very successful year together”.

“Only about 5 percent of the companies PlanetGreen PowerWash competes with in Northern Virginia are able to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a mark of consistently great customer service.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, have a fully complete profile, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

A healthy looking deck is a happy deck

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You spent several thousand dollars on a beautiful new deck a few years ago. Yet as you look out your sliding glass door it’s looking like it has aged 10 years. The flooring is beginning to show some cracking, the top rails show the affect from the suns intense rays and the entire deck has turned gray and dingy. All of this is the result of not having it sealed properly with a professional grade all-in-one seal and stain. Notice I said professional grade. At PlanetGreen PowerWash we use only professional grade oil based wood preservative stains. The stains and sealers you find at Home Depot and Lowe’s simply don’t make the grade. First of all, any stain that claims 5, 6 or even 10 years of protection is simply not true and incredibly misleading. The bottom line is no stain or sealant will last more than 2 – 3 years, PERIOD! It may still show some color or cosmetically look ok but that seal has already run its course and Mother Nature has taken control again. The rains and moisture build-up will begin to make its way inside the woods core and the suns UV rays batter the wood’s surface little by little until it begins to show the graying effect. By this time your wood has begun to crack, split and even curl which means you have waited too long to re-seal it. Don’t give up hope because for a fraction of the cost of a new deck, you can bring it back to life and make your deck happy again. Not to mention, a proud owner who can make their neighbors envy too.

Go with a knowledgeable contractor you can trust who believes in not just getting your business but taking the time it needs to educate you as well. Give us a call or email us and we will walk you through the entire process so you completely understand what it takes to breath new life into that dingy old deck again.

Fall time is protection time.

By | Seasonal tips | No Comments

Fall is almost here, and that means it is prime time to get your deck ready for the harsh winter months…..

Winter time creates havoc on those unprotected decks. The snowfall is their worst nightmare, especially heavy snowfall.  Although you may not see it, that moisture from the snow and rain slowly soaks into the woods core and begins to damage and eat the inner fibers creating splits and deep cracks. The outer fibers of the woods surface begin to splinter and fray causing a massive protection breakdown. It’s crucial to get that deck properly sealed before the Winter month’s ahead. The longer you procrastinate the more it deteriorates and pretty soon that once beautiful expensive investment becomes an expensive replacement.

An oil-based semi-transparent sealer and stain is the most effective protection and the easiest to maintain. A good rule of thumb is to have your deck cleaned annually each fall and to have it re-sealed every 2-3 years during either the Spring or Fall when the temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees. Either way its imperative to not wait longer than 3 years no matter what your can says or you will surely be asking for trouble. The Fall is a beautiful time in Virginia, why not enjoy it on a beautiful new looking deck!