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Owning stone property can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing. It may be beautiful, but stonework is exceptionally susceptible to unsightly occurrences like graffiti, carbon stains or the growth of organic matter (algae on stone is especially common).
If you’re in-need of stone cleaning services to bring your property back from the brink of disrepair, you’ll want to know whether your chosen contractor is up for the job and able to cover the entire area of your building. In other words, you’ll need to know whether your stonework can be accessed. There are several methods a company’s stone cleaning services may leverage when accessing and cleaning stone structures: here are the primary ones you’ll encounter.
You’re likely no stranger to the concept of scaffolding. It should be no surprise, then, that it’s one of the most common access methods used by cleaning and maintenance contractors operating around large structures.
While scaffolding is a good choice for long-term building and maintenance projects— providing a solid, consistent structure for workers carrying out work on a building—it can be an unnecessarily complicated and elaborate solution for short-term stone cleaning services. It is costly and time-consuming to set up, not to mention disruptive for residents, employees and passers by. Plus, its setup necessitates the use of scaffold ties which must be drilled into a building, making it an incredibly poor fit for historic or significant structures (which are often made from stone).
For stone cleaning, scaffolding should not be your go-to choice. With modern stone cleaning technology, such as the vortex-powered TORC cleaning system we use at Spectrum, your property maintenance contractor will only need one day to carry out a successful project. Scaffolding will only drag out the process, leading to higher costs for you and more complaints from your residents or employees.
Another common method of property access used by stone cleaning contractors involves heavy machinery such as cherry pickers. These are less disruptive, costly and time-consuming than solutions like scaffolding; they are a better fit for briefer projects like the removal of efflorescence or algae on stone.
However, they are far from perfect as an access method. Heavy machinery can be incredibly hard to manoeuvre in tight spaces, making them a poor choice for small roads, awkward places or areas with lots of foot traffic. As a result of this, they’re scarcely used in major cities.
Unlike scaffolding and heavy machinery, there are very few disadvantages to rope access as a method of traversing and working on stone properties. They are incredibly cheap, present minimal-to-no disruption and drastically reduce the set-up and pack-up time for a stone cleaning project. For these reasons, we at Spectrum swear by rope access as the superior access method for our clients.
Of course, to be carried out safely and effectively, workers must be trained extensively in rope access methods. Accredited bodies like IRATA offer full training and qualifications; however, not all contractors go out of their way to attain that vital training. At Spectrum, our entire team is IRATA trained, but that will not be a guarantee with other companies’ stone cleaning services.
At first glance, you may not think that your stone façade needs cleaning. This, though, is where your eyes can play tricks. While tremendous eyesores like graffiti and animal excrement may leap out at you and cause you to take immediate action, there is a slew of less obvious (but potentially more damaging) stains and buildups that develop over the course of years. These occurrences, such as carbon stains or efflorescence, can slowly eat away at the stone, causing it to deteriorate and decay, harming the structure’s value as well as its integrity. Furthermore, ground-in stains and organic matter can harm stone’s natural ability to breathe, allowing moisture to build up, triggering erosion and severely reducing its lifespan.
So, your façade may not necessarily need immediate cleaning, but you should be aware that the warning signs are easy to overlook. If your property is in urgent need of maintenance, it’s very possible that you will have no idea until it’s too late.
At Spectrum, we avoid disruptive and costly access methods wherever possible, instead opting to leverage our training in rope access or our innovative from-the-ground cleaning equipment. With rope access, our portable anchor points allow for a safe and efficient operation that doesn’t necessitate drilling into a structure. This unique aspect of our service is one of the reasons we have become specialists in impact-free heritage property maintenance.
Additionally, our team is equipped for cleaning stone without chemicals, instead using the chemical-free—yet highly effective—TORC cleaning system to lift ground-in stains and buildup with a mixture of low air pressure, fine inert granules and water. Our methods are ideal for clients looking to remove paint from stone, as well as dirt, grime, oxidation, efflorescence, algae and more.
Looking for more information or guidance regarding your stonework? Want to know how we at Spectrum are able to adapt to each customer’s unique needs? Get in touch! We’d be happy to talk with you.
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