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  1. #21
    Member Honorary Professor Ralph Q's Avatar
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    Back in 1996 I started a pressure washing business in New Jersey. I Was very interested in deck cleaning/restoration. I absorbed as much info as I could and was on the bulletin boards a lot. I remember Everett, Shane, Greg Rentschler and Jim Bilyeu.

    There was a lot of discussion back then about bleach and wood, and if you said you were using bleach to clean wood you were chastised and sometimes considered a pariah for just the thought. The talk was that bleach broke down the lignin, dried out and compromised the integrity of the wood. I believed that back then. So I used nothing but Sodium percarbonate to clean a deck and sodium hydroxide to strip a deck followed by citric or oxalic acid to neutralize.

    For various reasons I left the deck restoration biz in 2003, so I was quite shocked when I decided to start up a pressure washing business in Florida in 2012, and I started frequenting the bulletin boards again, and I saw that people were using bleach and sodium hydroxide to clean wood! It's like a total 360! I'm not saying it is right or wrong, it just goes against everything I learned back then.

    Either the information back then was wrong, and long as you oil the wood after you use bleach., then, no harm no foul and it's all good. But to me that means, all the bleach did was remove some of the natural oils in the wood and you replaced it. But if you destroyed the lignin in the wood, then I don't see how oiling the wood is going to fix that. Breaking down, and destroying the lignin is going to leave microscopic caverns in the wood that lets water and fungus and whatever inside, which is what Jim is saying. You can't fix that damage by oiling the wood.

  • #22
    Exterior Restoration Specialist 21000 PLUS POSTER Ron Musgraves's Avatar
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    We'll Jim looks they will be there so will see you in New Jersey


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  • #23
    Exterior Restoration Specialist 21000 PLUS POSTER Ron Musgraves's Avatar
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    I argue this when guys clean awnings with caustics. Strips uv protectant , thus exposes the material to sun that eventually destroys it.


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  • #24
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    Ralph, I am the creator of the bleach sodium hydroxide mix for maintenance on wood . It's also a nice mix for restoration of western red cedar shakes with severe black tannin bleed on the surface which is difficult to remove.


    Many use it as a common practice now .

    I developed the use of Ready Seal on hardwoods and the reason they took do not use on mahogany off the label.


    Jim Foley, Owner/Operator
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  • #25
    Member Honorary Professor Ralph Q's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond Jim View Post
    Ralph, I am the creator of the bleach sodium hydroxide mix for maintenance on wood . It's also a nice mix for restoration of western red cedar shakes with severe black tannin bleed on the surface which is difficult to remove.


    Many use it as a common practice now .

    I developed the use of Ready Seal on hardwoods and the reason they took do not use on mahogany off the label.
    And I toiled over a bucket with sodium percarbonate, stirring, mixing trying to keep my tips from clogging, because I was afraid to use bleach. Evolution is a bitch.

  • #26
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    Chemicals are our friends in wood restoration because we are going to seal and preserve. Chemicals alone are harsh and degrade the wood.

    Learn absorb and go forth grasshopper or e- mail...... Lol


    Jim Foley, Owner/Operator
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  • #27
    Member Honorary Professor Ralph Q's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond Jim View Post
    Chemicals are our friends in wood restoration because we are going to seal and preserve. Chemicals alone are harsh and degrade the wood.

    Learn absorb and go forth grasshopper or e- mail...... Lol
    I live and do business in Florida. There are very few decks here. Going the concrete route.

    you say seal and preserve, I used to say "To Preserve and protect" on my fliers and postcards. You know like on the cop cars!

  • #28
    Member Graduate Student Everett Abrams's Avatar
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    Ralph, I will refer back to a post I had in another thread: http://www.propowerwash.com/board/up...ity-quot/page2 The answer to your question is yes things evolve and that is part of life's process. One thing that hasn't changed is that the chemical chlorine is used in the delignification process in the making of paper. So if chlorine is used to break down lignin then it certainly can damage wood. The question that is out there at this point is what and where is too much and what is the end result? The times you refer back to I was against the "misuse" of chlorine bleach and I still am. There are good, better, and best methods, in my opinion, and when I can I use sodium percarbonate bleach I do, there are times when chlorine bleach is needed, and other times where a stripper is needed (or combo). The point is that, as Ron alluded too above, there seems to be a mentality of "more is better" which is not correct in wood. We look to use the least amount of chemical to get the job done and use neutralizers when using stronger alkalines. We also advocate the least amount of pressure to get the job done. As in the concrete world, there is a knee jerk reaction to run and get muriatic acid by property owners and managers (who shouldn't even be handling this most the time) and just dump it and we see the damage because it eats away the concrete. I think by now we have all seen the posts and videos where people are saying that they have a 3:2 water to bleach ratio for their roof mix and it is being suggested that this is okay on the wood decks as well. I personally have seen multiple post and pictures where someone is asking for help fixing the deck after they have washed the roof and the bleach damage is evident in the pictures. I personally am not picking out anyone's methods at this point because I do not know what everyone is doing. I can tell you that mixing bleach at some of the ratios I have seen is harmful to the wood. I think reasonable people can come up with an acceptable standard regarding the use of chlorine bleach. I will also tell you that once you go above household bleach you have gone against the Forest Products Laboratory so that is a big hurdle. Coming up with an "accepted practice" using higher contents of bleach would be a start.
    Everett Abrams
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  • #29
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    Got a call last night from another pressure cleaner in my state who was called in by a customer on a cedar roof that was bleached by the Softwash revolution people.

    It seems they are still bleaching the crap out of cedar roofs and decreasing the life out of the roofs ?


    Jim Foley, Owner/Operator
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  • #30
    Member Senior Undergraduate WASH-IT H.B.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by "Red" View Post
    Is this just another 'hit and run' drama thread or are you actually going to educate the masses? 6 weeks ago you brought this up and I was eager to learn from (possibly) one of the industry leaders on the subject, but nothing has been shared yet and now it's turning into threats. Save the drama for your momma and get on with the education. I'll gladly follow your lead as I have no experience (zip, zilch, nada) in the wood restoration area.
    Good post RED.

  • #31
    BS Detector, Esquire 10,000 PLUS POSTER Tony Shelton's Avatar
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    I get the same thing in my business. Day in and day out HVAC technicians swear you can't safely clean a coil with a pressure washer. Then we do it with Zero damage up to 3500 psi and make believers out of them. On the other hand, a pressure washer in the hands of the untrained can destroy a coil. Just like a scalpel in the hand of a doctor can save lives, but in the hands of a child it can take lives.
    Sonitx 845 S. Kenny Way Las Vegas, NV 89107 702-358-7477 Air Filter Service - Coil Cleaning - 2 month Payback


  • #32
    Exterior Restoration Specialist 21000 PLUS POSTER Ron Musgraves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Everett Abrams View Post
    I want to first address this by stating that the Forest Product Laboratory which is part of the Department of Agriculture is the leading authority when it comes to standards for the industry and Sam Williams and the Joint Coatings Committee have written many of the standards today. Technology and processes are moving forward at such a fast rate that it is hard to create a standard at one point in time and then apply it down the road. There has never been a standard for pressure washing by this group and one that Sam Williams did want at one point. He is retired and to my knowledge this was never accomplished. The WCRLA has come out with a policy to "not use a pressure washer" because of the overall damage that is done when using this equipment. Their reasoning is that if they discourage the use then it will get rid of the damage. This, in my opinion, is absurd because anyone with knowledge of the equipment and use of a nozzle chart one can use a pressure washer professionally and responsibly by using the equipment as nothing more than a giant rinsing tool which saves time and labor. Another advantage to this equipment is that basic chemicals left to long on wood without rinsing and/or neutralizing can burn or damage the wood. Chemicals that are too strong will cause wood to fuzz up, specifically softwoods like cedar. Using a pressure washer one can rinse surfaces very quickly. Personally, I feel that educating people on exactly how to use a pressure washer for wood restoration would be more responsible than just saying that because most of the damage done to cedar involves the use of a pressure washer. My guess would be that ANY homeowner or contractor that uses a pressure washer for the first time without the right knowledge will cause damage to cedar. There is a lot of misinformation out there and specifically on You Tube videos that if a person watched some of these would cause extensive damage to their cedar sided home. In regards to the links mentioned above the one from Texas I would not agree with in it's totality either as it recommends a 15 degree tip on cedar which I am not aware of any "wood" guy that uses a 15 degree tip. Again personally, I do not recommend anything except a 40 degree tip and then a variety of 40 degree nozzles with different orifices to regulate pressure up or down. I also feel that depending on how many coats of product is on the wood surface you will use a little more pressure but not much more. The idea with wood is the least amount of chemical and pressure to get the job done all the while relying on dwell times.

    Regarding bleach and other chemicals in wood restoration the standard I recognize is the one by the Forest Products Laboratory that recommends a generic solution using household bleach http://www.mchd.com/pdf/woodpr.pdf. You may ask why they recommend this? It is because they have done extensive testing and found that 3%-3.5% bleach effectively killed mold and mildew on the wood surfaces for coating. There was no reason to go to a higher dilution rate or a stronger product. This is not one of those situations where because 5% household bleach is recommended that using 12.5% or 3:2 is better. Now with that being stated I do not know anyone in particulars methods or products so if you are using 12.5% chlorine bleach in your solution and by the time your solution is mixed and applied the actual percentage applied to a surface is unknown to me. I am only speaking regarding testing and results on the matter.

    Regarding cleaning wood vs. restoring wood in the links above or the Forest Products Laboratory Standard applying a preservative is best for the longevity and extending the life of the wood. What is proven is that if you are applying a basic chemical to the wood you are changing the ph in the wood. This one reason why wood brighteners are used, which is to neutralize the surfaces for coating. A wood surface and coating may be adversely affected by a surface that is high in ph and not neutralized or rinsed thoroughly.

    I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done amongst folks to get to common ground if that can take place. I unfortunately think there are going to be two different camps on this at the end of the day. I will end stating that chemicals and the products we use can work wonders and help us achieve great results the problem, like anything else, is when they are misused and damage occurs. This is where we should work together in coming up with solutions that in the end do not cause damage and any type of regulation like the WRCLA has come out with regarding the use of a pressure washer.

    http://www.mchd.com/pdf/woodpr.pdf

    Organization About Bleach on Wood
    Ron Musgraves


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