New York City is a beautiful place, but let’s face facts—it gets pretty dirty. All the fumes from countless trucks and cars letting off exhaust leave a layer of grim on buildings so thick that in many cases, it’s impossible to know just how a lot of buildings were intended to look.
“The dirt’s a combination of a lot of things,” says Ed Talmo of Enviro-Northeast Sales Corp. in Highland Lakes, New Jersey. “There are airports close by, so fuel particles are coming down—but traffic is probably one of the mains issues. It all makes a general mess of things.”
Cleaning building exteriors isn’t something a lot of building managers think about, primarily because it’s expensive. But keeping the outside of your building clean not only keeps your building looking good, it may very well keep your building safer.
More to Grime than Meets the Eye
The negative impact of dirt and grime on buildings goes beyond pure aesthetics, says Talmo. The sulfur, acid and carbon that builds up takes a toll on a building’s masonry. In some instances, buildings have simply been painted in an attempt to improve their appearance—but that approach often makes the building look worse, and does nothing to improve the condition of the masonry underneath.
According to Bruce Pienkny of CitySolve, a Brooklyn-based company specializing in exterior cleaning, if you’re going to paint over grime, pollution smudges, or graffiti, “The whole key is to use a precise paint-to-surface color match. If you have a tan wall or a red wall or blue wall, you want to make sure the color paint you put on the wall is a good match. Unfortunately, a lot of the time you see a tan paint on a blue wall, or black paint on a white wall. That’s called patchwork, and it makes the building look even worse.”