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When it first became a popular building material, render was thought to be maintenance-free. Architects and property owners believed that, once applied, render wouldn’t discolour, require cleaning or change its appearance over the years.
However, now that many rendered buildings are beginning to age, we can see in discoloured facades that this isn’t the case. Over time, algae can begin to grow on rendered facades. As it spreads, algae will:
discolour the surface of render
leave rendered buildings looking old, tired and in need of TLC
Understanding how and why algae grows, and how it can impact a render façade, will help property owners to properly maintain their buildings and ensure rendered façades look as good as possible.
Algae is a natural organism that grows on more or less all external surfaces. Over recent years, it’s become a lot more common to see algae growth on both domestic and commercial premises.
One of the main things that’s caused this increase in growth is the Clean Air Act. By reducing pollution, and making the air in our towns and cities cleaner, the act has caused an increase in airborne algae spores and therefore an increase in algae growth.
Our slowly warming climate has also had an impact on the growth of algae on external surfaces. In addition, poor detailing on the external rendered façades of buildings has also encouraged growth of algae. This is something that makes some properties a lot more prone to algae than others.
The first stage of algae growth is colonisation. Algae are spread by the wind and thrive in moist, humid conditions. These spores will begin to grow as soon as they land on a suitable surface. Many types of algae find rendered buildings an ideal environment. The pores in the surface of the render give the algae something to hold onto while the moisture in the atmosphere allows it to thrive.
In general, surveyors find that buildings experience most algae growth on their northern facades. This is because the north face of property gets the least sun and so is more likely to remain damp.
However, properties that have poor drainage, or ongoing leaks, can experience high levels of algae growth in other areas. Once algae takes hold, it can quickly spread over the external surface of a building, especially during the wet, winter months. To prevent regrowth of the algae regular maintenance of the properties would be advised.
Red, green and black algae growth on a render won’t have a big impact on the core structure of a building and is unlikely to cause serious maintenance issues. However, it will have an effect on the aesthetic appearance of a property and can leave façades looking discoloured, tired and uncared for.
If left untreated, algae can spread to cover large areas of a rendered façade, significantly altering the look of a property, such as creating streaks on your roof. This can make a property look older than it should and can give residents and passersby the impression that the maintenance of the building is not up to scratch.
There are three types of algae that commonly grow on rendered surfaces:
Green algae is the most common type and can often be removed with gentle washing. Red algae is common in Northern Ireland and Scotland and is something we’re seeing more in England as the climate becomes warmer and wetter. Black algae, though less common, is very difficult to remove and getting rid of it generally requires cleaning and the application of biocide.
All types of modern rendered surfaces, including high-quality products from manufacturers including K-Rend and Weber Saint-Gobain, require regular cleaning to remove algae and prevent regrowth.
Our pioneering render care system allows property owners to restore the external walls to their original aesthetic appearance while preventing quick regrowth of algae.
Four Steps to Fully Refresh the Appearance of your Property
We prepare the area due to be cleaned from the algae growth. This involves assessing the current condition of the render, carrying out a thorough survey on the property and ensuring our operatives, and anyone else using the site, are kept safe throughout the algae growth
The next stage of algae removal involves applying a specially-selected biocide to the surface of the render. This kills any algae present on the rendered surface and helps to kickstart the cleaning process.
We then use pressurised steam, heated to 150 degrees to gently remove algae and discolouration from the external façade of the building. This is a much better option than jet washing which can damage the surface of the render. If there are any stains remaining following the steam clean, we use targeted treatment to remove the algae growth from the building.
Finally, we apply a top coat of biocide, a commonly used render cleaning chemical to prevent the black, blue or green algae growing back for as long as possible.
This staged process allows Spectrum to thoroughly remove the algae from the surface of a rendered building. On completion, properties that have undergone a thorough clean using the render cleaning product are restored to their original aesthetic appearance and are protected from future algae growth.
To help our operatives get to every corner of a building, and to keep access costs as low as possible, we design and 3D print our own specialist equipment. This allows our operatives to clean discoloured facades from ropes instead of cherry pickers and scaffolding, something that can dramatically reduce costs and ensure the algae clean is completed as quickly as possible.
Regularly removing algae from the surface of a rendered building helps to keep the façade looking as good as possible. What’s more, regular, preventative maintenance allows property owners to monitor the condition of their properties and address any issues that may be contributing to the rapid growth of algae. For example:
Find out more, and learn about the pioneering render façade cleaning services Spectrum offers in South London and surrounding areas, by exploring our site or getting in touch with a member of our team.
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