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Render, Aluminium, Wooden Cladding
Spectrum's creativity shines most when finding solutions to obstacles
A full render clean doesn’t initially sound like a complex job, but if there’s one thing we’ve learnt maintaining the glorious architecture of cities like London, it’s that even the most straightforward sounding jobs can carry unforeseen obstacles. Still, we pride ourselves on adaptability. Rather than causing issues, unorthodox architecture instead lets us get creative and put our more exciting solutions to the test. When we were approached with a full render cleaning project by a housing association in the Barking and Dagenham area, that’s exactly what we set out to do.
The job, which took place over five weeks of early mornings, involved fully restoring the façade of a block of flats on an incredibly busy street in Barking and Dagenham. It had become worn with age, suffering from staining, organic build-up, grime and more. While the job was a relatively straightforward one on paper, the unusual quirks of the building itself—with decorative metal grills, balconies and a bottom floor library which stuck out significantly from the rest of the building—made the reality a lot more complex. Put simply, lack of convenient access was to be the primary barrier to our success. Thankfully, our team members are specialists at traversing atypical structures. Rope access render cleaning is nothing new to them: our team took the whole thing in their stride and achieved outstanding results that both the residents and landlords were thrilled with.
Despite numerous challenges, including those mentioned above, Spectrum was able to make excellent use of its training and innovative equipment to achieve results in the most effective, least disruptive way possible. The housing association’s façade was left in immaculate condition. One resident even commented that it looked as if we had repainted it!
The location of this project was a large block of flats on the corner of a busy main road in Barking and Dagenham. It had several dozen balconies, making abseil render cleaning a challenge; decorative metal grills, which were difficult to clean behind; wooden cladding and aluminium panels; as well as a library on the bottom floor which significantly jutted out from the rest of the building, giving it a truly distinct look. On top of this, the site itself was located in an area with lots of footfall and high levels of traffic.
Needless to say, it was a unique building, one that had sadly become weathered after years of neglect to the hard-to-access façade. Spectrum wasn’t going to let that continue. We set out to formulate a plan of action to bring this property’s residents a home they could be proud of.
The team had to contend with several access-related challenges. For one, the building’s various cosmetic features—wood cladding, metal grills, aluminium panels and such—were difficult to work around, requiring the use of our multifaceted, patented render cleaning system.
Additionally, the intense footfall and traffic of the building’s road-facing areas meant that carrying out any of our softwashing techniques there would have been highly disruptive during regular work hours. As a result of this, we chose to work strategically in the early mornings, thereby minimising any disruption that could have come from this project. However, these short operating windows meant that when we did work, we had to do so incredibly efficiently. With these factors in mind, an abseil render cleaning solution combined with on-the-ground techniques was the obvious choice: it was to be quicker, cheaper and less obtrusive than access methods like scaffolding or the use of cherry pickers. The only snag with that plan concerned anchor points. Namely, there was nowhere on the building we would have been able to drill fixed anchor points. Thankfully, our team is equipped and prepared to handle such situations, as we’ll cover in the next section.
When operating from the ground, it was essential that we didn’t sacrifice results in the name of client convenience. That’s why we used our innovative long-reach render cleaning system to apply a low-pressure, steam-based softwashing solution to the façade. We were able to use this equipment to reach in and around the panelling, grills and cladding which would otherwise have gone improperly cleaned. Our softwashing techniques remove stains, grime, organic buildup and paint without damaging the façade with scorching heat or blasting water pressure.
Despite the effectiveness of our ground-based solutions and the issues surrounding the lack of viable anchor points, we still needed to employ rope access render cleaning solutions for the upper regions of the building. For this, we ascended to the structure’s roof, deploying a portable anchorage solution known as a Dead Weight Trolley. With it in place, we were able to abseil down and work up-close with the façade. There was no need for drilling or affixing eye bolts to the façade; this went a long way towards saving the client the time and financial expense of such invasive access solutions.
To prepare for render cleaning jobs like this, our team had to undergo a training scheme known as P.A.S.T.. In addition to training them in the specific use-cases for each piece of Spectrum-developed equipment, the scheme helps them understand the effects of different temperatures, renders and products on all modern façade types. It proved invaluable here. The team was able to masterfully operate its equipment, speeding the entire job up, keeping costs down and preventing any undue disruption to the property’s residents or passers-by.
The P.A.S.T. training method stands for:
P – Preparing the render and the area.
A – Applying the biocide to the render.
S – Steam-cleaning the render at 150 degrees Celsius.
T – Targeted treatment to any stains remaining on the surface.
Spectrum was founded on the idea of going above and beyond the client’s expectations. That philosophy has been instrumental to our success, and it’s something we stand by to this day. So, when we accessed this property’s roof to set up the Dead Weight Trolley, we couldn’t help but notice that its communal terrace was in a similarly bad state to the façade. We saw an opportunity and decided to give the whole area a deep clean, free of charge. With summer coming up, it was great to be able to give the residents a sparkling communal terrace to spend the warm, sunny days.
"I'm proud of the team for producing an outstanding outcome to this property. Our knowledge and adaptability were definitely at the forefront and helped us to successfully clean not only the façade but the communal terrace too."
– Lucian Ivan, MD Spectrum Specialist Support
Abseiling is a cost-effective method when it comes to façade cleaning
Our P.A.S.T. patented process and equipment helps us produce first-rate results
11th June 2020
22nd January 2021
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21st September 2020
18th January 2021
27th July 2021
4th March 2021
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Spectrum transforms buildings over the whole of the UK. Call our London based office and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and will be able to provide access to our Spectrum teams and help deliver a plan for your requirements.