Cleaning stone or masonry is important in improving a building’s appearance, removing anything that could damage its structure, and restoring the natural stonework. However, certain cleaning methods can do more harm than good. Pressure washing is often considered a quick and easy way to clean most outdoor surfaces and remove paint from stone or brickwork. However, it can cause untold damage to the interior and exterior walls and could lead to paint chips blasted across the building’s surface and surroundings.

Risks of pressure washing to stone and masonry

Using a pressure washer risks removing the natural patina of masonry and stone surfaces. It can also take away any coating or sealants previously applied to the building. This will open up the pores in the surface and allow water to seep deep into the stone and masonry. It’s also common for people not to put tips on the pressure washer to help remove deep soiling. However, not placing tips on a pressure washer can lead to severe scarring of the building’s surface, leading to deep patterns becoming carved into the stone or masonry.

People often choose to use chemicals to help remove excess soiling during pressure washing. These chemicals may include bleach, acids and high alkaline cleaners. The pressure washing process can push these chemicals deep into the stone, causing irreversible damage.

Damage caused by over-saturation

The higher the pressure setting, the more water consumed by the stone or masonry during pressure washing. When stone or masonry becomes over-saturated it will develop efflorescence, leaving a white powdery residue on the surface. This powder contains salts from the stone and setting material. These salts dissolve and deposit onto the surface, leading to flaking, pitting and delamination.

There’s also the risk that once the water gets into the wall, it will take a very long time for it to evaporate. This excessive moisture within the wall can jeopardize the external and internal structure of the building. In addition, pressure washing can remove grout and point on a building’s exterior. Grout and point can become soft, weak and cracked over time. The over-saturation caused by using a pressure washer will accelerate this process.

Effective alternatives to pressure washing

When it comes to cleaning stone or masonry on the façade of a building, you should always leave it to a professional to ensure safe and long-lasting results. A professional will carry out a pre-cleaning survey to identify the type and cause of soling and whether it has caused any damage or decay. The surveyor can also determine the softness of the exterior surface, particularly the grout and point. Pre-project cleaning test trials will then be used to decide the safest and most effective cleaning method.

While there are several different approaches to cleaning stone or masonry, the type of soiling, age of the building and results from the pre-cleaning survey will help determine the most appropriate. Some of the most common protective and conservationist techniques for cleaning stone and masonry include:

  • Rubbing and brushing, wet and dry abrasives or surface dressing
  • Sponging, water sprays and steam cleaning
  • Organic solvents, acidic or alkaline treatments
  • Laser cleaning and ultra-sonics
  • Sandblasting
  • Low-pressure cleaning

We are conservation driven in our philosophy and approach to masonry cleaning and building restoration, with experience on a range of historic and listed stone or brick buildings. If you’re looking at getting your building professionally cleaned or restored speak to one of our experts today.

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Building Transformation’s unquestionable honesty and enthusiasm for ensuring the client receives the correct whole-life solution (rather than a quick fix) resulted in us being able to ensure the building was not only returned to its former glory, but will stay that way for years to come. I would recommend them to anyone.

Kenny Gash - Carillion Amey

The work provided by Building Transformation was excellent. Their product and building exteriors knowledge is detailed, comprehensive and practically applied to the client’s needs. They offer a professional, detailed, high-quality and customer- focused service which meets the short, medium and long-term needs of the client, and provides practical, cost-realistic advice.

Kerry Quinn - Echo Arena

Customer service is paramount to Building Transformation and they invested vast amounts of time in providing me with a programme to facilitate what was a very complex and time-specific programme of work for the site. The quality and level of support provided by Building Transformation is priceless to any client/contractor.

Marc Blow MCIOB MBIFM - Carillion Amey

The approach and advice on setting up the works at the Wolverhampton Civic Centre were first-class. Building Transformation’s attention to detail was excellent and the RAMS were followed meticulously to every detail. We were delighted with the works and service, and would not hesitate to use them again, nor hesitate to recommend them to any organisation.

Kevin Egginton - Wolverhampton Council

A 200,000 sq. ft., four-storey leisure venue in the heart of Nottingham city centre surrounded by major traffic routes needed work to be done overnight to deal with the traffic issues, while the site remained open throughout. The project took around three weeks to complete and went exceptionally well; the Building Transformation staff were flexible and able to work round dynamic operational issues. The clean was of a high standard and has made a significant different to the image of the building. A very difficult job done well.

Suzanne Green - Land Securities

May & Co have worked with Building Transformation on a number of projects which have included external building cleaning and refurbishment. They provided a great service, supported by the high level of documentation from the initial quotation to books and industry-related guidance, all relevant to our project.

Anton Theobald - May & Co

I am very satisfied in the manner the job was conducted. Also the level of cleaning provided and attention to detail is much appreciated.

Waqas Bin Tahir - Ibis Southampton

I am using Building Transformation’s work to help justify façade restoration works around our business.  They have produced excellent presentations on what can be achieved and is a brilliant piece of informed marketing that is helping slowly win people over in our business to take façade cleaning and restoration more seriously.

Needless to say Building Transformation is a name that is now becoming known and respected.

Simon Attwood - Broadgate Estates Ltd.

Building Transformation gave great communication throughout our projects.
It will be my pleasure to recommend Building Transformation.

Sarah Cameron - My Hotels Group

Just signed off the job with Richard. Myself, the bosses and the tenant all are very pleased with the work. It definitely looks rejuvenated just a case of painting the concrete window surrounds in the new year to finish it off. Have found your company and staff very professional and helpful which has facilitated a project with minimal inconvenience and disruption to our in situ tenants.

Mark Hollinshead - Headruddy Property Development

I had a walk around today with Dave and am impressed with the work so far.  Dave and the team have done a great job.

I’d certainly love to work with you in the future so perhaps before the job is completed we could look at what opportunities there are for the future.

Marie Green - Novotel Sheffield

At this stage, from my point of view your team has been extremely professional, informing us of what was happening at all times and most importantly no disruption whatsoever to our guests and business.

Ludovic Verzi - Novotel Leeds

We are very satisfied in the manner the job was conducted. The operatives on site were very professional and communicated to us at all times.

Maria Pinana Mateu - Science Museum

The team at Building Transformation understood our challenge of finding a facade cleaning solution that would initially restore the glazing to its original state, protecting our building for years to come. Through intelligent and thorough testing right through to the full restoration of Block D, we have been very satisfied with the project management and delivery of the cleaning programme.

Colin Pilkington - Renaker Build Limited

Thank you for all the work that you carried out in cleaning the outside of our school.  We are delighted with the results.  You have managed to completely remove heavy staining from many areas around the building.

We found you extremely easy to work with: your quote was reasonable, you carried out the work quickly and you were very flexible in terms of timings.

Tamsin Griffith - Courtney Road Primary School, Bristol

have worked with Building Transformation on several projects within the hospitality industry and have found
them to provide high levels of professionalism and workmanship.


e will definitely be working with you again! Your engineers were very polite and accommodating every time they visited site and have done a first class job. I will be recommending Building Transformation to everyone!

Mark Healy - One Facility


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