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How to Clean Statues - Stains on Stone

Pristine statues are a monument to the cultural and historical significance of our past. Our eyes capture the perfectly sculpted stone, glancing up and down at the beautifully crafted features, instantly jolting us back in time. 

Of course, while statues have quite literally stood the test time, they have also been at the mercy of the elements. It’s common for property managers to spot stains, discolouration, streaks, and of course, graffiti, which all require expert advice on how to clean statues and preserve their glory. 

In this blog we’ll be discussing some of the most common stains you might find and the best way to clean the statues. 

Black crust like stains on statues

Carbon stains is the term given to a black crust-like stain that can be found on statues. While the industrial age ushered in many wonderful innovations that paved the way for how we live today, but it also led to increased pollution into the atmosphere. The carbon monoxide build-up on the surface begins to eat away at the stone, altering its physical appearance. 

These invisible particles, whether it is from chimney or factory smoke, motor vehicles etc, and other pollutants like bird droppings, land onto the stone, and while rainwater can help to ‘wash’ the statue, if left properly untreated it will lead to erosion and staining. 

Coloured stains and growth on statues

Algae, lichens, moss etc are found in damp places where the moisture and oxygen provide fertile breeding grounds, which on a statue will likely be the area least exposed to sunlight. If you have noticed a green coloured growth, then is most often algae or moss, while a light green, yellow, red, grey, or white colour is almost certainly lichens. 

Either way, you will need to seek professional help as soon as possible. If left untreated, it can cause serious discolouration over time, and the longer the growth is left, the harder it is to remove. 

Brown, rust-like stains, on statues

If you discover brown marks on a statue then this will signify the stone statue is rusting in places. Slate, granite and sandstone statues can become discoloured due to the natural iron content oxidising, while rust stains can also occur from metal that sits on top of the stone.

However, while the stains will look dreadful, it’s unlikely the statue isn’t permanently ruined. That said, it’s important to treat the stains as soon as possible to prevent further rust from forming on the statue. 

Paint and Graffiti stains on statues

Graffiti, while art to some, is a nuisance for many. Paint and graffiti removal is a serious issue for many property managers, not just to remove a prominent eyesore, but to protect the stone from deterioration caused by the chemicals within the paint itself.

Water mark streaks and stains on statues

Unfortunately, old statues, monuments and tombstones are vulnerable to acid rain because they were made of limestone. Acid rain can also damage buildings and structures because it dissolves the stone or corrodes the metal that is exposed to the weather.

Water marks, characterised by discolouration and streaking stains on statues, need to be treated to prevent the stone from deteriorating in appearance and substance. 

How to Clean Statues: Spectrum’s Stone Cleaning Method

At Spectrum, we understand how important it is to keep your statues clean and preserve their pristine glory. 

Our DOFF cleaning process heats steam to 150 degrees Celsius which is an incredibly effective temperature to remove stains, discolouration, organic matter (such as algae) and paint/graffiti. The DOFF cleaning system can easily be transported to different locations, creating a quick and efficient stain removal service. 

We’re especially proud of our TORC system, the stone cleaning system of choice for historic stone restoration experts working on projects across the UK. This pioneering service is a combination of compressed air, fine abrasion and water are best suited to the removal of brittle soiling and coatings. The TORC system is one of the gentlest yet most remarkable cleaning solutions, leaving the brick and stonework in pristine condition, without causing any damage or degradation to the surface of the stone.

Discovering stains and graffiti on statues is sure to create an additional headache for property managers, however rather than trying to Google how to clean statues and remove the stain yourself, why not call the professionals? We’ll advise on the best course of action and take action straight away. 

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