One thing that can make the exterior of your home look unpleasant is when it has mildew growing on it. While mildew is unsightly, there is another problem you should worry about if the exterior of your home is wood and you have an ongoing problem with mildew — wood rot. Mildew is a living thing that needs food and water to grow.
Mildew feeds from natural substances that are found in organic materials, such as the wood siding on your home. When mildew leaches too many of the natural substances from your wood siding, it can cause the wood to rot. Wood rot diminishes the integrity of your siding, which can lead to further damage due to rain and snow being able to infiltrate through the siding and to the building structures underneath.
Here's what you need to do if you suspect mildew is growing on your home's exterior.
Test to determine if it's mildew or dirt
The first thing to do is to determine whether or not you are truly dealing with mildew. Sometimes homeowners question whether or not it's mildew or just plain dirt on the exterior of their homes. It can be difficult to distinguish between mildew and dirt, but there is a simple way to figure it out. Place a few drops of bleach directly on the discolored area. After waiting a few minutes, rinse the bleach off. If the discolored area loses its color, then you are dealing with mildew. If it doesn't lose its color, then your exterior is simply dirty.
Remove the mildew
If it is mildew you are dealing with, then you'll need to remove it completely. It's important to understand that mildew can be difficult to get rid of, especially if the removal process is not done correctly. Mildew is a living thing, so you'll need to kill the spores while you clean the siding. Therefore, you'll need to use a few drops of bleach and a mildewcide product.
The safest way to apply these products is by placing them in a pump attachment for your garden hose. These products are available at home improvement stores. Do not use pressure washers to remove mildew from the wood siding of your home. If the wood is damaged the pressure washer may be too powerful, which could cause further damage to the wood.
Paint or treat siding with mildewcide
Since mildew growth on home exteriors is a common problem, many paint companies have developed exterior paint products that contain mildewcide, which is a chemical that kills and prevents the growth of mildew. There are also mildewcide additives that are designed to be added to paint that doesn't already contain mildewcide.
To prevent future problems and to protect your home's wood siding, it's a good idea to paint the exterior with mildewcide. However, it's important to use the correct type of paint and apply the paint correctly and only under certain conditions. Given all the variables and specifications that are typically involved, hiring a residential exterior painting service would be the safest bet instead of attempting to do the job yourself.
If you do choose to take this on as a DIY project, ask for help at the paint store when selecting the exterior paint and mildewcide products. Before you can begin painting, you'll need to wait for the siding to be thoroughly clean and completely dry.
If you do not use a mildewcide, do not apply paint on windy days, especially if other structures on or near your property have mildew growth. Wind can pick up and carry mildew spores to your paint. Should this occur, you'll probably have more mildew growing on your home in the near future.