Prioritising cleaning the interior of a high rise building over the cleaning of the building façade is a common mistake. Building managers may perceive high rise façade cleaning to be unnecessary or think it is expensive. Perhaps they don’t understand the importance of it, or even what it entails.
Let’s start with the basics. The word ‘façade’ is French, and means ‘front’. The façade of a building usually refers to one side of a building, especially the front. However, with high rise buildings, all four sides need to be considered as facades that require both maintenance and cleaning as they are visible from all sides.
Types of facades
When we categorise facades, we look at two main categories based on the materials used for the building – glazing, and cladding.
Glazing is part of a wall made of glass. It covers the following:
- Curtain walling
- Point support, spider and bolted glazing
- Glazing on tension and cable
- Atriums, skylights, canopies, and domes
- Shopfronts, displays, and other street-level views
- Doors and windows
Cladding is the covering of the material of a building with another. It covers the following:
- Aluminum composite panels
- Metal cladding
- Zinc panel cladding
- Stone cladding
- Clay tile cladding
- Wooden panel cladding
- Polycarbonate panels
- GFRC and FRP cladding
Multiple variations come into play in a building’s architecture and design. It’s essential to work with an expert in high rise façade cleaning to ensure the materials aren’t damaged or compromised somehow.
Why a façade should be clean
A building’s aesthetics are essential. Dirty windows limit the light that enters a building and gives it an uncared for, a dull appearance from the outside. But maintaining and keeping a building in good condition is important for the health and safety of those that live or work in it, or the vicinity of it too.
Window cleaning is the most important part of the building’s maintenance routine.
With glass facades becoming a common feature of architectural designs of all sizes, complex shapes and specialised considerations come into play with their cleaning and maintenance. Too often, the maintenance needs of the facade of the building are overlooked. Cleaning a high rise building slows the deterioration of the structure and offers the opportunity to inspect rust, spalling, or sealants. You want to pick up minor issues and deal with them before they become significant issues that require costly repairs or lead to other damage to the building.
When windows are cleaned, the following can be inspected and repaired if needed:
- Damage to window and glass and condensation
- Rust marks and rusted window frames
- Mortar that is eroded and cracks in concrete and masonry
- Brick spalling or efflorescence
- Lintels that are corroded
- Deterioration of parapets
- Sealants at expansion joints
- Solar panels
- Light signs and bulbs
The aim of cleaning the façade of a building is also to ensure it continues to look good. This can’t be overlooked as a factor as it impacts the rentals a building owner can expect and affects the neighbourhood’s overall impression for other investors in the area. In this way, it affects the value of the building.
With regular cleaning and maintenance, a building manager is also affecting the lifespan of the building components. They will monitor when replacements or repairs are needed and can build these into the maintenance budget and plan for them.
Methods used for cleaning building facades
A popular method used in high rise façade cleaning is water-based. This is because it is non-invasive. Methods include pressure washing, soaking, and steam washing. With pressure washing, the surface of the building is sprayed using a low to medium-pressure water spray. The contractor may use a brush for hard-to-clean areas as well as detergents to remove oil-based dirt.
Soaking is done to loosen stubborn soot and crusts and requires an area to have a light spray of water over several days. This is done to areas not exposed to rain or typically for historic masonry that needs a gentle method. Steam cleaning involves the use of high-pressure hot water to remove any soil deposits and plants.
Then there are chemical cleaning methods. Acid-based cleaners are used for cleaning unglazed brick, terracotta, concrete, and granite. Alkaline cleaners are used for cleaning limestone, marble, and sandstones. They are applied to a wet surface and rinsed off when the stains are removed.
Keeping the exterior façade of your building looking good helps a building owner achieve a good image for the businesses operating in it, keeps the building working efficiently, and halts the structure’s deterioration. High rise facade cleaning companies have the expertise and the best practices to determine which best method is to clean the building.
They will also advise you on how to get the job done while making sure there is a limited disturbance to your operations.