How to Clean High Rise Cladding
Cleaning Cladding serves many functions for your building such as insulation and ventilation, it also adds a lot to the appearance of your property. As such, it’s important that you keep your cladding clean and well-maintained. But the nature of high rise cladding means that it’s not as simple as washing the windows of your bungalow. A lot more time, care, equipment and expertise must be used to reach the high rise panels and to get the most effective clean.
So, if the time has finally come and you need to get your high rise cladding cleaned, you might be wondering where to start? The following guide will help you out. We will be looking at how to clean your high rise cladding, as well as offering a whole host of other helpful information about hiring cleaning service providers, how long the cleaning process takes and why it is so important that you care for and maintain your cladding.
To make things even easier for you and to help you find out what you need to know, quickly, the information will be broken down below.
In this article, you will find:
- The Different Types of Cladding
- Why You Need to Clean Your High Rise Cladding
- Why Cladding Maintenance Is So Important
- How to Clean High Rise Cladding
- How Professional Cleaning Services Can Help
- Finding the Right Cleaners For Your Building
- How Often Should You Clean Your High Rise Cladding?
- How Long Does the Cleaning Process Usually Take?
- Conclusion: Is it Time to Get Your Cladding Cleaned?
The Different Types of Cladding
The best way to clean cladding will depend on the type of cladding you have on your building. There are several different styles of cladding and these are made up of a range of different hard-wearing materials.
Though they all serve largely the same purpose, the variety of materials used to make cladding can have different strengths and weaknesses. Plus, they can give a very different finish to the overall look of the building. Below, we’ll take a quick look at some of the most common types of cladding you’ll see on buildings today. These include:
Plastic is a lightweight and cheaper option for cladding and is usually made from PVC. With less detailing, it is easier to clean and requires lower maintenance, though one of the major downsides of this material is that it that the colour can begin to fade over time.
Metal cladding is very popular because it is so versatile. The sheets can be manufactured from a range of different metals and in several different styles to create a variety of beautiful finishes. The only problem is, metal can be harder to clean because it is more porous and you don’t want it to get damaged during the cleaning process.
Wood is a natural material and can make for a beautiful finish to any building. Common woods used for cladding include oak and cedar. This is perhaps why it is one of the most popular methods of cladding. However, as wood is soft it can be absorbent, which can lead to discolouration of the wood over the years. Although it can be easily repainted or stained for a brand new finish.
Brick cladding also known as brick slips are thin layers of masonry and they appear to have a similar look to traditional brickwork. These come in a range of different styles and colours and can be quite durable thanks to the tougher material. This can make them easier to clean and aesthetically pleasing.
Last but not least are tiles, also known as tile hangings. This is a more traditional method of cladding (though is less common on high rise structures) and is popular amongst those who want to add a bit of character to their property. Tiles can also be easier to clean.
Why You Need to Clean Your High Rise Cladding
It might not be something that crosses your mind until one day you look up and see the algae, discolouration and dirt and this makes you suddenly realise, something has to be done about your cladding. There are several reasons why you should prioritise the cleanliness of your cladding and why this is something that should be taken seriously.
Below, we’re going to look at four reasons why you need to clean your high rise cladding regularly, before moving on to why cladding maintenance is also so important. The top reasons you need to clean your cladding are:
To Give the Right Impression
Your cladding might be on the outside of your office building or a block of flats that you rent out. Either way, keeping your cladding clean and looking tidy is important for creating the right impression. After all, if this is your business, you want your customers, clients or anyone else coming to your building to have a good first impression. A grey, grime-covered high rise just isn’t going to stand out.
Similarly, if you’ve got apartments in your high rise that you want to rent out, you want the building to look good to attract future tenants. It might seem trivial, but the outside of the building is the first thing potential tenants will see and a grubby exterior could have negative implications for you as a landlord, maybe even putting them off the building altogether.
As a Preventative Measure
Exterior cladding isn’t just there to look pretty, it also serves several important functions which we’ll look at in more detail in the next section. But for the most part, it takes the brunt of bad weather and cold conditions and over time can become corroded or damaged by adverse weather, algae, saltwater, dirt and pollutants. Cleaning your high rise cladding regularly is important to prevent this from taking hold and causing irreversible damage.
To Maintain and Lengthen the Life of Your Cladding
Following on from this, cleaning your cladding regularly makes it last longer. If your cladding is not properly cared for the dirt and pollutants can start eating away at the material until your only choice is to replace it. But by having it professionally cleaned, you can prolong its life and keep it looking great.
To Comply With Warranty Guidelines
Finally, you might find that the regular cleaning of your cladding is a condition of your warranty. This is because most companies will give you a guarantee on your cladding and therefore the original installer will also give you some conditions of this guarantee to ensure both parties will benefit from this arrangement. For this reason, regular cleaning could be vital for upholding your warranty.
If you do not get this done and you find your cladding is damaged or wearing away quicker than you’d hoped, you might not be able to claim back on your warranty as you did not follow the maintenance guidelines. We will talk more about maintenance in the next section.
Why Cladding Maintenance is so Important
As well as cleaning your cladding regularly, you need to ensure you’re doing all you can to maintain it. To understand why maintaining your cladding is so important, you first need to understand the functions that it serves for your building. Some of the key functions of cladding include:
- Helping to control the internal environment
- Protecting the building from external conditions such as adverse weather
- Providing extra security and privacy
- Helping to soundproof the building
- Helping to keep the building airtight
- Providing ventilation
- Providing thermal insulation
- It can help to prevent the spread of fire throughout the building
With all this in mind, it is vital to maintain and care for your cladding as best you can. Above, we mentioned the importance of looking after your cladding as per your warranty and its lifespan but this is also important for creating the right impression.
Your building needs the cladding to comply with UK regulations and maintaining it is the only way to ensure it is safe and functional without having to keep paying to replace it every few years. Which, of course, will be very costly, not to mention inconvenient. Because of this, you’re better off taking proper care of your cladding in the first place and helping it to last for years to come.
How to Clean High Rise Cladding
The cleaning process for high rise cladding differs depending on the equipment you have available and the type of material that the cladding is made from. Either way, the process can be broken down into several simple (and fairly similar) steps whether you do this yourself or hire a professional cleaning service.
The cleaning process for high rise cladding can have added with safety risks, so it is probably best to get the professionals in instead of trying to clean the cladding yourself. They will have all the proper equipment, safety measures, and risk assessments to comply with current regulations. Here are some of the most important steps in the cleaning process:
Make Sure You’ve Got the Right Equipment
First and foremost, those cleaning the cladding will need to ensure they’ve got all the right tools to be able to do the best possible job. There are several approaches to cleaning cladding which require different techniques and tools. Below we’ll look at some of the key equipment needed for cleaning a high rise building. This includes:
- Hydraulic equipment, cradles or mounted platforms – this may be used for reaching clad-ding on the much higher buildings. These techniques will be adopted by the professionals who have access to this and the safety training to use them.
- Water fed pole system – for cleaning and reaching high places
- Jet washer – for high-pressure washing
- A soft bristle brush – for scrubbing metal and other more fragile cladding and for soft washing
- Cleaning detergent – for cleaning. The chosen detergent must be suitable for the material the cladding is made of. Otherwise, it could permanently damage the cladding.
Get Access to All Areas
Exterior cladding can be difficult to access depending on what is around the building, so you need to make sure that those who will be cleaning the building have sufficient access. They need to be able to get to every area of the building safely to avoid having to overreach or leave any areas of the cladding unwashed. If access is difficult, it could be better to use the professionals to work out the right way to manage this.
Reaching the High Rise Cladding
It’s important to choose the best method for reaching all cladding so you can get a nice even clean. Professional cleaning services will be able to decide which method is going to be the safest and most effective. Without the proper equipment and techniques, you may find that you’re unable to reach all areas of your cladding and you end up with a section of dirty cladding visible on your property.
It may be in some cases that a water fed pole system is enough, in other cases, a hydraulic platform system may be more effective for reaching those higher sheets. Either way, the most appropriate method must be selected to begin cleaning.
Cleaning With a Bristle Brush
Some materials may be too fragile to scrub with a bristle brush, but most metal cladding is strong enough to take it. So, get a soft bristle brush (nothing too harsh or stiff) and use this to scrub any dirt, dust, cobwebs, algae and rain spots from the cladding. This can also help to remove corrosive substances and protect the metal for longer.
Remember to use just warm water without any chemicals if you’re going to take this approach, but don’t use any kind of chemical for the cleaning process as these can cause discolouration and damage the metal.
For older cladding, cleaners might use what is known as a ‘soft washing’ technique. This is a low-pressure tactic and relies on the use of a custom cleaning solution and gentle water pressure, instead of using the sheer force of the water to blast away dirt and stains. This approach is gentle and less intrusive so it’s much better for softer materials and for older buildings that might not take the harsher pressure of a jet washer.
On the other hand, strong materials and newer cladding might benefit more from a proper jet wash cleaning. The high-pressure stream of water blasts away dust, dirt, moss and stains. This is the type of technique that is also used for cleaning patios and driveways because it is so effective.
Water fed pole systems can also be used to achieve a similar clean. These are fed with a constant stream of purified water which is even better for looking after the cladding and maintaining it for the future. This also reduces the risk of a safety hazard (such as those caused by using hydraulics or a platform) and the deionised water is better for the environment than using chemicals or harsh soaps, whilst still giving a great clean!
Some cladding, in particular plastic cladding, can be cleaned the good old fashioned way with a sponge, soap and a bit of elbow grease! In these cases, a hydraulic platform, or scaffolding will probably be required for height and stability.
When taking this approach, cleaners use a sponge to apply the cleaning product and scrub off the initial dirt, then a soft cloth can be used to remove any stubborn algae, moss and stains. Once it’s clean the cladding can either be rinsed off if that’s possible or just left to dry.
Buffing and Shining
Following on from this, plastic and some other materials such as metal can benefit from being buffed and shined after they are cleaned. In the case of PVC cladding, a special cleaning agent can be rubbed onto the surface to help protect it from moss, pollutants, saltwater and mould.
But if you plan to use any products when buffing, be sure they won’t damage the material, for example using chemicals on metal can damage the cladding. Once you’ve buffed and shined with a dry cloth the job is complete! Of course, this step is optional, jet washing and soft washing techniques may be enough to get a great shine without buffing.
The Cleaning Process is Complete
So there you have it! These are some of the most common steps for cleaning high rise cladding, but which are most relevant will depend on the size of the building, the equipment available and the material that the cladding is made from. But don’t stress, expert cleaning services will be able to decide on the equipment, products and approach that is going to be right for your property.
How Professional Cleaning Services Can Help
It’s not impossible to clean your cladding yourself, but in a high rise situation this is going to be difficult and there are a lot of risks involved. Not to mention without the proper equipment you might not be able to reach the whole area and it could be left looking incomplete and worse than when you started.
For this reason, there are expert service providers out there ready to tackle the hard work for you. These cleaning service providers will be able to help you in several ways, making them the best solution for your cladding needs. We will look at why this is and how they can help you with more detail below.
They Can Tackle a Range of Problems
Professional cleaning services will be able to tackle all manner of problems and pretty much be able to remove any stain that may have made its way onto your cladding. For the most part, they will be able to get rid of:
- Plant growth
- Marks from raindrops
- Pollutants such as oil
- Wildlife stains
They Offer Tailored Services
Cleaners understand that no two cleaning jobs are the same and each will require different tools, techniques and cleaning products. That is why professional cleaning services will strive to offer a tailored cleaning service based on the specific requirements of your particular property.
They Can Offer Expert Advice
Cleaners will be able to offer you the best advice for your property. After conducting a careful inspection, they will be able to offer guidance on which tools, techniques and products to use. They will also be able to tell you which options are going to be best for your budget, as not everyone will have the same money to spend on cleaning their cladding. That said, it is a worthy investment and can stop you having to pay out for replacements in the future, so you’ll be saving money in the longer term.
They Have All the Right Equipment
The nature of these services means professional cleaners will have the equipment they need for the perfect clean. You can speak to them about what tools and technology they have and they will be able to advise on which equipment is going to be best for your clean.
For example, they can tell you if a pressure washer is going to work or if the cladding is too old and a soft wash would be the better approach.
They Understand the Products
As experts in their field, the cleaners will have a deeper understanding of the products they’re using. They will know which products could damage certain materials and which are going to be best to use.
What’s more, many companies now focus on using products that are going to be more environmentally friendly as the residue and water from the wash may be running down into the grass or flower beds around your property. This approach also stops harsh chemicals from being introduced into the air or your building, so is better for all concerned.
They Offer a Range of Services
Most cleaning companies will offer a range of services, which means you may be able to employ the same company for any other cleaning needs you have such as cleaning your patio or the driveway leading to your property. Most will also service a range of commercial and private properties in their local area, so you’re guaranteed to find what you need.
They Offer Free Quotes
Finally, many service providers will offer free, no-obligation quotes. If you want to shop around a bit, you can begin by getting a good idea of the price and decide whether they are offering a fair quote for their services. Of course, no one is obligated to provide you with a free quote, so just check whether they offer this service before you call them out.
Finding the Right Cleaners for Your Building
When it comes to finding the right cleaning services for your property, there are several things you need to take into consideration. In this next section, we’re going to take a look at what you need to think about when searching for the right cleaning company for your cladding. This will help you to make an informed decision and to get the best results. When choosing cleaning service providers, you need to think about the following:
The cost of cleaning your cladding will vary depending on the material it’s made from, the size of your building and your location. You need to keep your budget in mind when searching for the perfect cleaning services as some will be more expensive than others. Start by getting some quotes and as this will give you a feel for the average price of a cladding cleaning service.
By doing this, you can ensure you get the best price and service to match your budget. Just keep in mind that it is well worth investing in looking after your cladding as this can stop you from having to replace it more frequently in the future. So, try not to be put off by the cost and think about the bigger picture.
What Equipment They Use
You’ll want to find a service provider who has the best equipment for the job. Some prioritise the use of the latest and greatest tools, which can result in a better clean for your building. When you get in touch with a company, it is a good idea to enquire about the equipment they use and ensure they’ve got the right tools for the job. Especially as your building may require special treatment depending on the material and the age of the cladding.
Your best option is going to be finding a fairly local service provider. Otherwise, you might have to pay in excess to get them to come to your property. A quick internet search will be able to show you the cleaning service providers near you, then you just need to do a bit of research to determine which is going to be the best one for you. One of the most effective ways to do this is by looking at their reviews, which we’ll talk more about in the next section.
Look at Reviews
Reputation is important and choosing a cleaning service provider with a great reputation means they’re more likely to do a great job. The wonderful internet has made it possible for you to look at real reviews and customer feedback for businesses and in this case for cleaning providers.
By taking your time to seek these out and to read reviews, you can see what past customers have said and this will give you some real feedback. Reading these can help you to make a more informed choice to choose a service that is going to give you the best results for the best price and as rated by past customers.
Check Their Credentials
If they’re going to be operating potentially dangerous machinery around your property such as long-poles and hydraulic platforms, you need to make sure that they have got all the proper training and credentials to do this. Otherwise, you might run into trouble later. They may have listed their qualifications on their website, but if not, you can get in touch with the company and just double-check with them to make sure everything is safe and legitimate and that everyone who will be working on your building is qualified to do so.
How Often Should You Clean Your High Rise Cladding?
If it’s been a long time since you last had your cladding cleaned, that is if you’ve ever had it cleaned, then you might be thinking that it’s time to get the contractors out. A good clean can boost the appearance of your property and restore your cladding to its (almost) original condition. As we’ve mentioned above, there are several benefits to cleaning your cladding and a grubby building can give a bad impression, but just how often should you be cleaning your high rise cladding?
As this is not an easy job and therefore not something you can just do yourself on a whim (or when you notice it’s looking rather grim), you need to get your timing right and make sure you’re looking after the cladding by cleaning it frequently. There’s that word again ‘frequently’. We’ve used this a lot throughout this guide, but we’ve not explained what it means, it could mean weekly, monthly, yearly, every two years, five years etc. So below we will clarify.
But before we do, let us first say, there is no right answer and how dirty or damaged your cladding becomes will depend on a variety of things including the material it’s made from, pollution in your area and the Great British weather. However, for the best results and to keep your building looking good and protect your cladding from damage, we recommend that you make your cleaning an annual event. You may even want to do this every six months if your cladding is quickly affected by outside conditions.
Perhaps set a date in your diary so that your cladding is cleaned around the same time every year. If you’ve got wooden cladding you might also want to have this re-stained yearly, or for plastic cladding, you might want this to be recoated with a protective layer each year. As the winter weather can have more of a damaging effect only our cladding, plus the weather is not particularly nice at that time of year, it might be beneficial to wait until the summer months when the days are warmer and the winter weather has passed.
But as we have said, there is no right answer and every building will have different needs. Just be sure to keep an eye on your cladding and if you notice it is becoming excessively dirty or damaged, act right away! Don’t just leave it to get worse.
How Long Does the Cleaning Process Usually Take?
As with all things cladding, the time it takes to complete the cleaning process will depend on several factors. It’s worth thinking about these things before you book in your cleaners just to ensure you have given them enough time to complete the job and that there aren’t going to be any issues with access. Of course, if you plan to clean the cladding yourself and you have the means to do this, just make sure you set yourself enough time aside to get the job done properly.
The time it takes to clean your cladding will depend on:
- The height and size of your high rise building. If you’ve got a very tall and wide building this will take longer to clean than smaller properties.
- The tools required to do the clean and their availability. For taller buildings, hydraulic plat-forms, cradles and even scaffolding may be required to reach the cladding at the top. As such, this can take longer to get in place and requires a lot more health and safety regulations. This can impact the time it takes to finish the clean.
- The material of the cladding. Some materials take longer to clean than others, especially more delicate materials like wood, which require better care.
- How dirty your cladding is. Of course, how long it’s been since your last clean and how dirty your cladding is will impact the time it takes to clean. If it’s covered in hard-to-remove stains, it will take longer to complete.
Most of the time, as a general rule, using water-fed poles or even hydraulic platforms should allow you to have the clean complete within a day. It may take just a few hours or it could take the whole day, but either way, it should only require one session. That is unless your high rise property is extremely tall and therefore requires more specialist equipment such as scaffolding or cradles. In these cases, getting the equipment set up can be a day’s job, so it may take two or three days to complete the clean.
As this process can take some time and more technical equipment can be distracting, you may wish to request that this is done outside of working hours if you’re having the cladding cleaned at a place of work. Otherwise, the staff there might find it causes some disruptions to their working day.
Conclusion: Is it Time You Had Your Cladding Cleaned?
There has certainly been a lot of information to take in throughout this guide, so we thought we’d pull together a quick summary as well as helping you answer the question ‘is it time you had your cladding cleaned?’.
If you’ve not had your cladding cleaned since it was installed, then the time has come to get this sorted. Even if you’re thinking, it doesn’t look that dirty, as we’ve discussed above looking after your cladding is about so much more than just how it looks. We also mentioned that it is worth getting your cladding cleaned once a year to maintain it and ensure that any dirt or damage doesn’t become so bad that you have to get the cladding replaced which can be more costly.
Other Key Points
- There are several different approaches to cleaning your cladding and which approach is most beneficial to you will depend on the material that it is made from and how new/old it is.
- If you’ve got the means, you could clean your high rise cladding yourself, but this comes with a lot of risks and potentially not doing the best job. As such, there are cleaning service providers out there who can do the hard work for you.
- It’s important that you keep your cladding clean because it boosts the appearance of the building and makes a good impression.
- What’s more, cleaning your cladding can increase its life expectancy so you don’t have to pay to get it replaced.
- If you’ve chosen to hire professional cleaning service providers, spend some time doing your research and ensure you find the right company for your property, that can meet your specific requirements and budget.
- The cleaning process can range from a few hours to a few days depending on the size of your building and whether any specialist equipment is required, so always set aside enough time to get the job done effectively.
And that’s it! Remember to take care of your cladding and have it cleaned regularly. If you’d like to know more about how we can help with your cleaning needs, get in touch with the team today.
Also you can read our guide on Cleaning Building Exterior