November 4, 2021

CLEANING METAL PANELS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A DIRTY JOB

by RMercado

Cleaning Metal Panels Doesn’t Have to Be a Dirty Job

Cleaning Metal Panels Doesn’t Have To Be A Dirty Job 

Metal roof and wall panels are always a great choice for construction projects of every size and level of complexity, with their unmatched durability, energy-efficiency, and extensive color and design options.  To add to the appeal, their high-quality and durable finishes ensure they maintain that like-new appearance for decades with relatively little upkeep. 

With minimal effort, you can ensure the longevity of your metal panels while protecting their appearance and keeping energy costs under control simply by scheduling time to clean them once a year. 

Why is it important? Besides the cosmetic benefits, proper care and maintenance of your metal panels will improve durability and performance, too. Conditions such as the weather and humidity levels in your area, proximity to trees and plants, location on land populated with animals or construction sites nearby all contribute to the buildup and residue that can collect on metal panels. Left for too long, these substances can even begin to damage the structural integrity of your panels. Those substances with corrosive properties, such as bacteria, mold, and mildew, can begin to degrade protective coatings on panels and shorten lifespan. Additionally, if you leave elements such as leaves or debris on the panels for too long, they could cover up areas that have begun to rot and will eventually lead to leaks. So, there are multiple reasons to protect your investment! 

While it is always advisable to refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines on cleaning and maintenance to stay within the conditions of the warranty, the following tips will help you determine how frequently you should clean your panels and what cleaning products are safe to use. 

Preparation 

While routine cleaning of your metal panels is a fairly simple process, there are few things you want to be sure not to do: 

  • Do not use harsh chemicals or scouring powders
  • Do not use wire brushes, steel wool, or any abrasive cleaning or scrubbing tool
  • Do not scrub any area of a metal panel for an extended amount of time
  • Do not use any cleaning solution without testing a small area of the panel first 

Frequency 

It is generally agreed that once a year is the minimum frequency for a basic cleaning of any type of metal structure. It also may be beneficial to clean roof panels in the fall after leaves and twigs have fallen, and again in the spring to remove winter residue. Buildings located near heavy tree overhang or that are exposed to harsh elements may need more attention. Deep cleaning should be done every 3-5 years, depending on the building conditions and location. For this type of cleaning, you should use stronger detergents that can remove stubborn dirt and grime, tree sap, oxidation, and other hard-to-clean substances. 

Preparation 

Take a few steps before beginning the cleaning process to help eliminate extra work cleaning up after you clean. If your building is near shrubs, plants, or other greenery, rinse them with water so any stray soapy detergent will be less likely to stick. For added protection, cover with a tarp. Once the surrounding elements are protected, do a thorough preparation of the building, securely closing all doors and windows, and covering all exterior elements such as lights, utility boxes, and power outlets. Lastly, turn off all power to the building at the breakers. 

Cleaning Techniques and Solutions 

For basic cleaning, a mixture of hot water and a mild detergent or household cleaner is effective. Mild cleaners are typically made up of less than 5% phosphates. A formula of ¼ cup of cleaner or detergent per gallon of water is acceptable for most metal panels, but always consult the manufacturer if you are unsure. Using a soft cloth or soft-bristle brush, apply the cleaning solution to one section at a time, working from top to bottom, then follow with a clean water rinse. If you prefer to use a pressure-washer, be sure to use a 40° tip and a low-pressure sprayer, standing about three feet from the panel. 

For build-up of substances that are not water-soluble, it may be necessary to use a solvent or alcohol-based cleaner, such as ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, mineral spirits, or turpentine. ALWAYS check with the manufacturer before using any of these substances to ensure you do not void the warranty. 

If your building or structure has been exposed to paint droppings or has areas with excess caulk, a flat razor blade may be helpful if used extremely gently. Be aware that too much pressure on the blade can damage the panel as well as potentially void the manufacturer’s warranty. 

Once you have completed the cleaning and rinsing of your building, it’s helpful to inspect for any excessively dirty areas that may need a second round of cleaning. 

Keep It Clean! 

Cleaning your metal building doesn’t have to be an arduous process. If you stay on schedule with maintenance, your building will continue not only looking great but performing well for decades. If you’re the DIY type and choose to do the cleaning yourself, just following some simple guidelines and heeding your manufacturer’s warranty will go a long way in making sure you get the results you want. If you choose to hire professionals to do the job for you, just make sure they are insured and have proven experience. 

Either way, you’ll be glad you made the investment in your building. If you have any questions or would just like to know more about the benefits of metal panels, one of our Star Building Systems representatives would be happy to help. 

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