Britain is home to an abundance of beautiful and historically significant buildings. In England alone, there are around 500,000 listed buildings according to Historic England. Without the correct maintenance many of these buildings will begin to deteriorate. Historic building restoration and maintenance preserves these high-value buildings for the future. However, restoring historic buildings is expensive,… Read More
How To Remove Paint From Stone Or Brick Façades
Paint removal from stone or brick façades can be a difficult process. Cracked, fading, and damaged paintwork on the exterior of a building creates more than just a problem with its image. Layers of paint can prevent bricks from being able to ‘breathe’. This encourages the onset of damp, erosion, and cracks in the building fabric. Combining this problem with years of pollution, dust, dirt, and weathering it can cause serious problems for buildings, especially historic ones.
The task is made more difficult because many buildings will have changed in style or function over the years. Alternations may have involved different building materials and techniques.
Most historic buildings will have been constructed using materials such as brick, stone, or terracotta. Each building is unique and old paint removal from them requires skill and attention to detail – otherwise, it can result in additional damage and an increase in expense due to repairs. Seeking specialist help means that you can be sure that the ideal and most sensitive methods will be used for removing the paint.
What methods are available?
Steam cleaning is by far the most popular method. It can make a dramatic impact quite quickly. At our project, The Great Central Station in Leicester, steam cleaning revealed wonderful terracotta and brickwork hidden under decades of dirt, grime, and paint. Sandblasting and aggregate cleaning can be used for more stubborn paint removal or staining but only on certain materials or else it could result in damage.
Specialist solvents may be needed on areas covered with thick layers of paint. Usually, these are manually agitated into the building fabric for the best results. These must be applied extremely carefully and match the type of paint. Any residue needs to be removed afterwards to ensure that no moisture or chemicals remain on the building fabric. We always recommend you test any chemical solutions beforehand on a smaller section of the wall to ensure the correct solution is applied.
Any paint removal that involves chemicals may cause health risks and create hazardous waste. So, it is always important to ensure that there is a plan in place to remove any hazardous waste material safely and efficiently.
Pre-project testing is the ideal way of ensuring that the best method is chosen for a building. Undertaking such tests means that the effect of the chosen cleaning method can be immediately assessed. You can also begin see what the façade will look like when the work is complete. If your building is older too, there is a chance that the paint could contain lead, which would need to be tested to ensure the correct health and safety measures are applied to its removal.
Bear in mind that if a listed building is involved, you will need to seek advice from a conservation officer at your local council before any work can take place. Historic buildings are subject to Listed Building Consent regulations. All work undertaken to the building fabric – including façade cleaning – must meet those regulations.
While cleaning and removing damaged and unsightly paint is essential, the aim always must be achieving minimal damage. Taking a conservation driven approach to cleaning paint from exterior facades ensures that the building’s integrity is maintained for the future.
At Building Transformation, we take a proactive approach to all our paint removal projects. We will undertake a visual inspection with you and carry out test trials to help you achieve your desired outcome.
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