The importance of safe and gentle building restoration

From old to new, large to small, the need stays the same. Buildings of all shapes and sizes need regular care and attention to preserve their safety, aesthetic and longevity. The UK is fortunate to contain a stunning and diverse range of historical homes. Listed and heritage sites require a unique and professional touch to preserve them adequately. This is a task See Brilliance takes very seriously.

Sandstone, concrete, bricks and more: all require a specialist approach to see their surfaces navigated, cleaned and restored without damage and degradation. Today we’re reviewing two famous examples of immaculate historic buildings in the UK – and what it takes to see them shine.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Occupied since the Neolithic and Bronze Age, Oxford as a site is undeniably a stunning city resplendent with a variety of historic listed and heritage buildings. Known as the oldest university in the English-speaking world, the 337-year-old museum building stands today with a unique footprint and external architecture. As is always the case with a building of this size, the Ashmolean requires regular restoration and cleaning work to be shown at its best to its approximately one million annual visitors.

With the exterior of the vast museum being primarily constructed using stonework with an emphasis on the Portland stone found alongside sandstone in much of Oxford’s architecture, a diligent cleaning schedule is mandatory.

Today, the Ashmolean’s exterior is in excellent condition, with little patchiness or erosion. This is due to substantial ongoing investment in cleaning, repair and refacing. Despite the money required to maintain the famous museum at its present state, the reality of erosion, weathering, pollution and occasional vandalism means the job of maintaining this heritage asset is never truly over.

Tower Bridge, London

One of the most famous and iconic structures in our capital, the Tower Bridge is a glorious example of the Cornish granite and Portland stone architecture seen across much of England.

With a structure comprised of over 11,000 tons of steel which stands upon a 70,000-ton concrete bed, the giant bridge sees a regular cleaning and restoration schedule in addition to more significant works which are carried out every 25 years.

Built originally by architect Sir Horace Jones in collaboration with civil engineer Sir John Wolfe-Barry, the structure is familiar to the See Brilliance team who have proudly been involved in the restorative cleaning of the external frames to two towers — accessed via abseil — using specialist See Brilliance products and techniques.

Pollution: What affects a building?

With many listed and heritage buildings invariably having a high footfall and being located in busy areas, pollution is an ongoing problem and a fact of life for owners who are required by law to maintain such buildings to preserve their history.

In terms of building and stone restoration work, pollutants can originate from the inside of the structure as well as from the outside. Indoor pollutants are commonly from sources such as cooking and our bodies, but can also originate from building materials and stored items, the pollutants of which can ‘outgas’ to the exterior of the building.

The damage pollutants can cause can be startling. Ozone damage can induce fading, crack rubber and originate from a variety of indoor and outdoor sources. Particles are a common by-product of vehicle traffic and will soil, discolour and degrade a building’s façade, leaving deposits which can cause further damage by being acidic or alkaline.

Even construction work on other buildings can spill over and cause damage, such as the introduction of formic acid to a building’s façade through drying paint on a neighbouring structure.

DOFF Steam Cleaning – The safe solution

Fortunately for owners and managers of listed and heritage buildings, restoration and cleaning is a straightforward affair when carried out by a skilled team.

See Brilliance draws on a range of cleaning methods to restore classic buildings to their former glory. Our DOFF Steam Cleaning methods are Stonehealth Approved – a highly-prized recognition for our restoration team who guarantee the effective use of systems that can gently clean and restore delicate surfaces without causing damage in the process.

Our cladding and façade restoration systems are similarly kind to commercial and industrial buildings. For these buildings, it’s important to make use of the appropriate cleaning methods and machinery that can restore precious stone, anodised aluminium, stainless steel and facades that are polyester powder coated.

The removal of graffiti and particle deposits also require specialist methods that guarantee no damage is done to the surface during the restoration process.

See Brilliance restorative cleaning services

And there you have it – all the reasons why a skilled eye and a capable team make the vital work of restoration and façade cleaning possible. We’re proud of what we do and it’s a tremendous privilege to be part of the maintenance of so much of our country’s history.

We’re here if you’d like to enquire about our services and getting in touch with the team couldn’t be easier. To reach us directly, please call 01635 230 888 or email info@seebrilliance.com.

See Brilliance has over 30 years of experience in specialist restorative cleaning of metal, glass and stone. We can provide façade and cladding restoration, DOFF Steam Cleaning, graffiti removal, and much more, all across the UK.

Download the See Brilliance 2020 brochure