Fighting Grime Brick by Brick Exterior Cleaning

New York City’s co-ops and condos might vary in their architectural styles, but over time every exterior—from the ornate historic landmark to modern glass-and-steel fishbowl—experiences exterior wear due to the elements and the simple passage of time. As years go by, most facades and exterior surfaces will begin to lose their luster, and require occasional deep-cleanings, with regular maintenance to keep things looking good in between.

Buildings get dirty due to a number of factors, chief among them smog, dust, car exhaust, graffiti, exposure to the elements and even jet fuel. Cleaning them demands not only a thorough understanding of the accumulated crud itself, but also an arsenal of tools, products, and methods of getting back down to the gleaming clean surface underneath.

Culprits

“Exhaust causes a serious problem and creates a layer of soot,” says Ed Talmo, president of Graffiti Control Specialists/Enviro-Northeast in Highland Lakes, New Jersey. “Jet fuel can even be a problem if you’re near an area where there’s an airport.”

Carbon is the major contributing factor on most dirty urban buildings.

“Carbon and everything from smog and dust affect exteriors,” says Raymond G. Saleeby, president and CEO of Remco Maintenance, LLC in Long Island City. “It’s worse on the lower levels of a building than the higher levels because carbon is heavier than air. Also, rain patterns can create stains you would prefer not to have. Sometimes, stains are not uniform because of rain patterns and the way the drainage system works around the building.” And that creates unsightly smears and streaks on everything from glass to vintage terracotta.

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