From the tallest of skyscrapers, to the corner office, and the downtown warehouse district, the stressors of sunlight, changing weather, water, building movement, and settlement can break down and deteriorate building facades creating comfort, safety, and maintenance issues that can quickly add to the cost of property ownership.
“Now that winter is almost over, spring marks an ideal time for building owners and facility managers to survey their buildings and structures for any damage that may have resulted from the cold, winter weather, make repairs and perform preventative maintenance to protect the exterior going forward,” says Jason Holtman, facade expert at Western Specialty Contractors, a St. Louis, MO based contractor focused on masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing, and specialty roofing.
Facility managers should consult with a masonry and facade restoration specialist to identify problem issues such as cracking, efflorescence, spalling, control joint failure, and sealer or caulk failure and to recommend a repair and prevention plan that protects the property and tenant spaces from leaks and water damage. Proper facade maintenance will aid in reducing the likelihood of unexpected costs and repairs, plus help to maintain the property’s value, says Holtman.
Structure facades can be made from any number of materials including brick, terra cotta, granite, marble, sandstone, limestone, brownstone, concrete masonry units, glass curtain wall systems, Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems (EIFS) and precast concrete. Likewise, these can all deteriorate for any number of reasons, including:
- Lack of maintenance/funding
- Air pollution
- Improper workmanship/design
Ongoing maintenance is always recommended to minimize exterior damage, no matter what the building material. Holtman recommends regular, proper cleaning of the building’s facade in the spring. “A clean facade projects professionalism, can increase sales for businesses located within the building, increase the life of the property, improve the building’s value and make surveying winter damage easier to see,” he says.
Facade cleaning can be performed using a variety of methods including:
- High-pressure water
- Low-pressure water
- Wet aggregate blast
- Hot water steam
- Soda blast
- Glass bead
- Sponge blast