A bad cleaning job can ruin the most beautiful brick job. The chemicals that you choose and the manner of cleaning are essential. The brick industry suggests using a bucket and brush, just like the old way.
I know that it is not the most common method used nowadays. Many times, a pressure washer is used. If you do not know how to use the pressure washer properly, you can literally write your name on the face of the brick.
Pressure washing is commonly used because the professional cleaner can stand on the ground and by adding extensions to the wand that he is using, he can clean the brickwork even if it is 20 feet away in the air without using a scaffold.
Getting the brick surface wet is one of the essential aspects of brickwork cleaning. Think about it for a moment; what part of the brick is dirty? Which part do you want to clean? Isn’t it just the face?
Brick is a very porous material. You need to make sure that all of the surfaces are wet before you add the acid or the cleaning chemical. The liquid component will be absorbed back in the brick. You need to make sure that this cleaning solution will stay on the surface to do its job.
What is Brick Cleaning?
Brick cleaning means cleaning the brick masonry. Bricks are laid on the outermost wall facade. Dirt and damage are inescapable for any properties. Bricks and other materials are being exposed to direct sunlight, grime, vandal, and many pollutants. Weather also contributes to why the bricks deteriorate over time.
These factors are the reasons why your building brick looks deteriorated and depress. Brick cleaning is needed at different stages of a building’s life. You may call your brick cleaning provider during construction, renovation, or you just want your building to look new.
What do you need to consider when you are cleaning bricks?
- Brick Texture – the texture affects the effectiveness of the cleaning solution. Some stains are easier to remove compared to other smears. Stains can be removed from smooth brick surfaces because it has a less exposed surface area. They are also easier to clean because residue, staining and smears are more visible. Stains and dirt tend to penetrate deeper into textured bricks. The uneven surface of the brick also provides additional surface area for the water absorption.
- Water – You need to use potable water. Determine if the water provider includes additives like a water softener or other chemicals that can damage the bricks.
- Area – The brick cleaner has to identify how big space is. He can, later on, modify the size of the area as the work progresses.
- Cold Weather – Air temperature, wind conditions, and temperature affect the drying time and reaction rate of the cleaning solution. Generally, cleaning chemicals are more effective when the outdoor temperature is fifty degrees Fahrenheit. Do not clean during freezing weather or if you are expecting freezing weather. The temperature should be above forty degrees Fahrenheit or above for seven days after cleaning is completed.
- Hot Weather – High temperature quickens the drying of cleaning solution. Do not let the cleaning solution dry on the brickwork, because it will leave stains and smears. The brick cleaner should make sure that the wall surface is saturated during the cleaning process.
- Safety – Cleaning chemicals may be harmful. Always use protective clothing and accessories. The professional cleaner needs to observe proper ventilation and safe handling procedures.
- Extra Care – The cleaner needs to come up with a cleaning plan to avoid damages while cleaning.
How Much Does Pressure Brick Cleaning Cost in Australia?
Same as the other commercial cleaning, brick cleaning has to undergo a site visit. Cleaning companies in Australia will only determine the appropriate cost of the job when they see and understand your specific cleaning requirements.
Pressurized Water Cleaning
Commercial cleaning companies used pressurized water because it provides less labour and permits a large cleaning area much more quickly. The process allows the operator to spray clean water on the wall from the tank and compressor.
Pressurized water cleaning requires skills because, for you to achieve the best result, you need to maintain consistent, appropriate pressure, water flow rate, distance from the wall, and the angle from the nozzle and the bricks that you are cleaning. It is essential to use uniform horizontal strokes.
Excessive pressure may damage the brick surface and remove other coatings.
Hot water can also be used in pressurized water cleaning but note that some equipment may not be capable of providing or using warm water.
General Cleaning Procedure
This is the most commonly used for new brickwork and existing masonry.
- Timing – Determine the appropriate timeframe to begin cleaning. It is best to schedule cleaning at least seven days after the brickwork is completed. Avoid waiting too long between the completion of the masonry and cleaning. If we wait too long before cleaning the surface, mortar smears and splatters left on brickwork become increasingly difficult to remove.
- Remove mortar clumps – Remove large clumps of mortar using wooden paddles and non-metallic tools. Metal tools may damage the brickwork or leave behind fragments to oxidize and cause rust stains. Remove smaller particles with a fibre bristle brush.
- Right cleaning solution – Choose the right cleaning solution for the proper brickwork condition and application. Strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations. Verify the cleaning solution’s compatibility with the equipment. It is recommended to evaluate the effectiveness of cleaning solutions for overall cleaning starting from the gentlest solution and method in the following order: water, mild detergent, one-step chemical cleaners, and two-step chemical cleaners
- Protect surroundings – Safeguard the adjacent materials and nearby plants. Mark and protect windows, doors, and materials such as sealants and metals.
- Saturate with water – Surfaces have to be saturated with clean water to keep them from absorbing the cleaning solution. Very low pressure is recommended for pressurized water cleaning. Surfaces below the area should also be saturated and kept wet until the final rinse to prevent streaking.
- Apply cleaning solution – Follow the manufacturer’s instruction when it comes to diluting the cleaning solution. The cleaner can apply the solution using a masonry cleaning brush or chemical pump or sprayer.
- Rinse thoroughly with water – flush walls with a large amount of clean water. A thorough rinse is critical, no matter what method is used. Higher pressure can be applied if the trial cleaning shows no damage. Monitor the appearance of the runoff while rinsing.
Cleaning Existing Masonry
You need to identify areas of discolouration or stains during periodic inspections. If you choose to defer with the routine cleaning, pollution and atmospheric condition can cause stains, dirt, and soil to accumulate on the surfaces. Accumulated stains will require more potent cleaning products to remove. This can further damage the surface of the brickwork, masonry, and cast stone.
We advise you to collect as much information as possible before cleaning an existing masonry. Sometimes, water repellant and other treatments were applied, which can, later on, interferes with the cleaning. Professional guidance should be sought in determining how to address these conditions to achieve a successful result.
A poultice is a paste made with solvent. It works to dissolve stains by absorbing or pulling them into the treatment. Poultices are useful for deep, localized stains affecting small areas of brickwork. They are not intended for overall cleaning. Poultices tend to prevent stains from spreading during treatment and to putting stains out of the pores of brick.
Silica exposure is a result of an abrasive blasting procedure. The dust can be harmful if inhaled. Cleaners should use respirators in combination with other personal protective equipment during any cleaning with the involvement of abrasive blasting methods.
Abrasive methods are not recommended for brickwork cleaning. It is risky because the outer layer of the masonry can be removed, resulting in permanent damage. It can erode mortar joints and can roughen the surface of the craft.
Abrasive blasting can be used at high or low water pressure. You need to use the proper abrasives based on the degree required for cleaning.
Removing Specific Stains
A soft fibre brush is recommended to remove dust particles from the brick surface. Wire brushes should not be used to remove dust because they can damage the brick surface. It is essential to wear a dust mask or respirator to ensure that dust particles are not inhaled.
The surface should be wiped down using a dust mop or a damp cloth. The use of compressed air to clean dust is not recommended due to the increased risk of particle inhalation.
Dirt and Mud
Scouring powder and stiff bristle brush is useful for not too rough surfaces. Pressurized water cleaning can be helpful for very rough textures.
Brickwork vandalized with raw egg can be cleaned by pre-wetting the stain, applying a saturated solution of oxalic acid dissolved in water, and rinsing it with water. Mix the solution in a non-metallic container and apply it with a brush.
Oxalic acid crystals and water are suggested for both new and mild brown stains. Another recommended cleaning solution for brown stains is a solution of equal parts white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and distilled water.
Oil and Tar Stain
These types of stains can be removed by commercially available oil and tar stain remover. After application of the cleaning solution, the stain can be rinsed off with water.
Dry ice or compressed carbon dioxide can make the tar brittle. Light tapping with a small hammer and prying with a putty knife is adequate to remove thick tar splatter.
Moss, algae, lichen, and other microbial growth can grow on a masonry surface. A lot of masonry cleaning products offer biocides targeted to remove organic and microbial growth on these surfaces. Brick cleaners can also apply a household bleach or weed killer.
Paint and Graffiti
Cleaners can use commercial paint remover and organic solvents to remove graffiti and paint. Try to remove any paint and graffiti with non-abrasive tools. Please note that methods involving scraping and abrasive blasting are not recommended when there is a risk that leads paint is present.
Scrub the smoke stain with scouring powder and stiff bristle brush
Molten metal may splash onto the brick and melt into the surface. A mixture of oxalic crystals and water is effective in removing welding splatters. This solution should be used with caution because it generates dangerous acid, which can etch brick and glass.
Cleaning failures generally result from one of the following actions
- Failure to thoroughly saturate the brick with water before and after application of chemical or cleaning solutions. Dry brick permits absorption of the cleaning solution, which may result in soap scum and other unwanted stains.
- Use of improper cleaning solution – improperly mixed or overly concentrated solution can etch the brick and dissolve the cement materials from the mortar joints.
- Use of aggressive cleaning methods – cleaning methods such as abrasive blasting and high-pressure washing can also etch mortar joints and remove the outer surface of the brick, resulting in permanent damage.
- Failure to protect windows, doors, and trims – Many cleaning solutions have corrosive effects on metal. The solution may cause staining the masonry surface and trim materials.
We trust that we offer this comprehensive article to you as a guide if you want to venture into the pressure washing business. It can provide you with a lot of business opportunities as long as you had invested in the proper equipment, and know the proper chemical to use for the job.
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