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Restoration of Older Building Façades: Why Doff Steam Cleaning matters

A well-restored mature building can form part of an attractive streetscape in any town or city, and is likely to increase the value of the properties surrounding it according to a study by the London School of Economics conducted in 2012.

But older buildings usually present many more challenges in the way they are cleaned and maintained, particularly externally. This is because certain construction materials, such as old brick, stone, and concrete are often fragile, not to mention in short supply.

Even if replacement materials are available, only a handful of specialists have the experience needed to work on older buildings, often making replacement and repair work extremely challenging.

But through safe restoration practices, it’s possible to restore an older building without harming its integrity or requiring new materials. Let’s take a look at what it takes to restore a mature building façade safely and how a non-abrasive steam cleaning technology – DOFF Steam Cleaning – helps us achieve great results.

What does the restoration of older buildings involve?

Safe restoration of mature façades relies on a range of techniques and practices that are gentle to the surface but efficient enough to remove years of dirt, debris, and pollution.

This is particularly important for the conservation of historic and Heritage sites because regular maintenance and restorative cleaning helps to preserve the materials a building is constructed from.

Historic England is the Government’s public body responsible for protecting the historic environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, scheduling ancient monuments, and by advising central and local government.

Guidance from Historic England often outlines what work can and cannot be undertaken on historic and Heritage buildings in the UK. This means that, when planning to restore an older building back to its former glory, only very specific approved restoration techniques and products must be considered – this is to avoid damaging or altering the surfaces being worked on.

There’s a fine line between restoration and repair. Historic England defines repair as “work beyond the scope of maintenance, to remedy defects caused by decay, damage or use, including minor adaptation to achieve a sustainable outcome, but not involving alteration or restoration.”

Restoration, or restorative cleaning as we call it here at See Brilliance, is generally considered to be the act of “returning a building to a known earlier state, on the basis of compelling evidence, without conjecture”. We like to call this the act of “making your building sparkle again”.

Every building has its own characteristics which require an in-depth understanding of the types of surfaces being restored, whether it be stone, brick, concrete or any type of historic and therefor precious masonry. The exact cleaning methods we use will always be determined by a detailed assessment before any work is carried out.

That’s why, with over 30 years’ experience working at Heritage and historic sites, our operatives know that safe restoration is crucial for preserving a building’s unique character, its original façade, and all or most of its historic detail.

Safe restoration techniques for older buildings

Safe restoration is at the heart of every building restoration project we work on, especially at Heritage and historic sites.

During cleaning we may use physical methods such as brushing, rubbing, washing, and steaming to remove harmful acidic dirt which can cause reactions with carbonate particles in some types of older stone.

DOFF Steam Cleaning is an impeccably accurate, precise steam cleaning technology that’s both safe and effective at cleaning and restoring mature building façades made of stone, brick or concrete. The technology has revolutionised the way we approach stone restoration and maintenance.

What is DOFF Steam Cleaning?

DOFF Steam Cleaning uses a gentle jet of steam which is spread over a façade by our experienced operatives using an applicator at varying temperature and pressure. It is an eco-friendly method of removing years of contaminants and pollutants from older building façades.

A gentle, yet superbly powerful method of restoration, this restorative cleaning technique removes stains, grime, pollution – and even graffiti – from building façades, leaving them almost spotless and preserved for years to come.

DOFF Steam Cleaning is also Earth friendly! Rather than relying on chemicals, it uses low-pressure high-temperature steam to remove dirt and discolouration and eliminates mould and bacteria – all without leaving behind harmful residues.

How is DOFF Steam Cleaning different from regular cleaning?


Non-toxic and eco-friendly:

DOFF Steam Cleaning typically doesn’t require chemicals – toxic or non-toxic – which makes it extremely kind to the planet. In addition, the super-hot DOFF steam (150°C) never damages the porous structure of rock or masonry. This ensures older buildings remain unharmed after the restoration process is completed.

Superheated steam that’s more effective than regular steam:

The technology uses steam, superheated to 150˚C (much higher than regular steam at 100˚C), to remove most unwanted pollutants from any building façade. This includes graffiti, chewing gum, oil, carbon deposits (from traffic pollution), bird fouling stains, varnish, paint, and other build-ups.

Perfect for time-sensitive work:

Thanks to the superheated temperatures at which DOFF Steam Cleaning operates, restoration work can be completed much more quickly than that of regular steam cleaning. Older buildings can be stripped of pollution build-up and mineral deposits up to twice as quickly compared with many traditional cleaning methods.

The technology is also designed so that surfaces dry more quickly when compared with regular steam cleaning. So, if your building needs a fast restorative glow, DOFF Steam Cleaning is the perfect solution for you.

Excellent disinfectant:

The superheated steam from DOFF Steam Cleaning can be used for sanitisation purposes as it can kill bacteria and germs without any hassle. For this reason, hospitals and schools use DOFF Steam Cleaning to sterilise external spaces.

Trusted by government bodies and architects:

DOFF Steam Cleaning is approved by the Royal Institute of British Architects and Historic England. It is also recommended by the National Trust and English Heritage for the safe restoration of older buildings and mature façades due to its non-abrasive approach.

How See Brilliance uses DOFF Steam Cleaning for safe restoration of older buildings

Safe restoration means restoring a building with the most durable methods available in the market, which until now often involved traditional cleaning techniques that aren’t always safe for the façade, budget-friendly, or good for the environment. But DOFF Steam Cleaning has changed that.

At See Brilliance, we combine our 30 years of façade restoration experience with the latest DOFF Steam Cleaning techniques to safely remove graffiti, restore glass façades, clean concrete residue, and restore all types of building façade and cladding so that your structures last longer without losing their glory.

See Brilliance specialises in restorative commercial cleaning of metal, glass and stone. We provide commercial façade restoration, stone façade restoration, glass façade restoration, TORC Cleaning, graffiti removal, and much more, all across the UK.

If you’d like to get in touch today, call our team directly on 01635 230 888 or email [email protected].

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