October 04, 2019
Sand and cement render can offer a building excellent protection from the elements.
This type of render does not have to be painted but skilled softwash treatments will make it look considerably better.
When softwash cleaned older properties – like the one below – in particular can look very appealing with a plain sand and cement finish.
And Benz "Clean & Maintain" softwash systems – will keep the property permanently clean.
The biofilm of algae and lichens that grow in sand and cement render, keeps the render damp and hence has the potential to damage the structure of the building.
Removing the biofilm results in a structural sound and aesthetically pleasing unpainted finish.
1. In preparation for painting unpainted sand and cement render.
2. Re-painting previously painted sand and cement render.
3. Maintenance of unpainted sand and cement render.
In our experience, the softwash cleaning of sand and cement render in preparation for painting presents some challenges.
In particular, the heavy black algae and lichens that grow in sand and cement render can be deeply rooted and therefore very difficult to remove.
And because it is not advisable to paint over these growths – because they will regrow under the layer of paint – they must be removed prior to painting.
Why do professional painters need sand and cement render to be cleaned quickly?
One of the main reasons professional painters need sand and cement render cleaned quickly is because they only have a "weather window" of spring, summer and early autumn to complete most of their work.
Therefore cleaning contractors must must plan their work in advance of giving a softwash treatment.
This is an easy matter if the render is only a few years old. Just treat it with Lightning Cleanze at 5:1. Simply spray, brush the product into the worst areas of colonisation by biological growths, and then thoroughly rinse.
The sand and cement render can be painted once it has fully dried out.
How to softwash clean sand and cement render that is over five years old
A sand and cement render that is over 5 years old will have a heavy biofilm that will be difficult to remove using Lightning Cleanze alone during one visit.
This has proved, after several years testing various techniques of softwashing sand and cement render, to be the easiest and best way to prepare the render for painting.
This is especially true when the customer wants the fastest possible results.
Quick tip: If the render has not been treated for a very long time, say ten years or more, we've found the best practice is to allow Bio Cleanze (applied at 20-50:1 dilution depending on the severity of the growths) four months to work before treating with Lightning Cleanze.
Here's an example of an extremely contaminated 35 year old render before softwash cleaning:
Here's the same render four months after a softwash treatment using Bio Cleanze:
And the same render after a softwash treatment using Lightning Cleanze:
In extreme cases like this the white lichen dots remaining on the surface will take a further 4 – 8 months to weather from the surface.
The only alternative to this would be to use a pressure washer with the problems of access that entails, and at the risk of damaging the render.
The need for co-operative planning
The various technical, environmental and diarying factors involved, requires co-ordination between the cleaning contractor, painter and customer.
This requires a little organisation but the final result will be superior to – and far easier and more effective than – multiple applications of Lightning Cleanze.
Quick tip: Ideally apply Bio Cleanze in the winter so the sand and cement render is ready for final cleaning and painting in the spring/summer
When sand and cement is already painted, the most effective method will usually be to treat with Lightning Cleanze, often at only 10:1 dilution.
In the photo below you can see an example of a painted sand and cement render before being given a softwash treatment:
A small job like this can frequently be completed in one day, simply by treating with Lightning Cleanze, as you can see in the photo below:
... allow the softwash chemical to activate, then thorougly rinse it off. You can see the immediate result in the photo below:
How to rinse already painted sand and cement render:
We suggest rinsing with a power washer set to a very light pressure. This will remove any chemical residues, spiders nests, birds droppings, dust, etc, all of which is essential for good pre-painting preparation.
If there's flakey paint on the render, rinsing will usually remove it. But you don't want to take off good paint. Hence the reason we suggest low pressure rinsing.
Obviously, what will come off, will come off and your customer needs to expect that. So it's important to educate your customer in advance as to what may happen, so they know what to expect.
Quick tip: As you can see in the photo below, softwashed sand and cement render that has been painted will normally further brighten through time. This is because any remaining dead growths will be removed from the surface by natural weathering.
The biological growths will usually disappear over a period of months. Sometimes, when the sand and cement render has not been cleaned for many years, the full impact of softwashing with Bio Cleanze or Perma Cleanze may take up to a year to show full results.
We're often asked to clean sand and cement render in preparation for painting, but are rarely asked to do this for KRend and other pre-coloured renders.
This is because, for easy and cost-effective maintenance, most home owners choose to stay with the original colour of their render.
The main difference between softwashing pre-coloured render and and sand and cement render is that we treat it with Bio Cleanze or Perma Cleanze first.
We leave the treated surface as long as is practical (preferably several monthis), then give it a final treatment of Lightning Cleanze or Tornado Cleanze.
The reason is that Bio Cleanze has the ability, because of its chemical formulation, to soak in more deeply than Lightning Cleanze (or any SH mix). When biological organisms have been allowed to grow into the surface for many years their roots can go deep, requiring the deep cleaning action of Bio Cleanze.
This sequence of softwash treatment will:
a) Leave a sand and cement render perfectly clean.
b) Leave the property ready for painting once the sand and cement render has fully dried out. This could be from a few days to a couple of weeks depending upon the prevailing weather.
Put your customers onto a "Clean & Maintain" ongoing maintenance programme consisting of regular softwash treatments of Bio Cleanze or Perma Cleanze every 2-3 years (exact timing depends on the local environment).
Putting customers onto an ongoing maintenance programme is a win-win for both customers and softwash contractors.
An ongoing maintenance programme gives customers a permanently clean property, which they love, and the softwash contractor a reliable source of repeat business – which they also are also very happy about.
We've found that when a contractor clearly explains to their customer the nature of the work they are going to undertake for them – so their customer understands the problems a particular job presents, how the contractor intends to address those problems, and the results that can be reasonably expected – customers rarely have any concerns.
We hope you've found this information about soft washing sand and cement render helpful,
Ben, Leo & Fiona
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September 15, 2021
Many soft wash contractors can be unsure of the safest way to soft wash asbestos roofs. So in this post we lay out the best practices we've learned from running a soft washing business since 2013.
Click the link on this page to learn how to treat asbestos ...
September 08, 2021
Ben demonstrates how to scrape moss and lichen from natural slate roof tiles and treat the biofilm to kill all the growths on this natural slate roof.
Click the link on this page to watch the how-to video ...
September 02, 2021 2 Comments
When soft washing it's vitally important to protect surrounding building materials. e.g. lead flashing. And not to create "clean streaks" – from overspray and run-off – on surfaces that are not part of your contract.
Click the link on this page to watch how we achieve this when soft washing a chimney ...
It's a free resource for people wanting to learn about the soft washing industry, to expand an existing business, or build a new business.
Soft washing reduces, or even eliminates, the need to use high-pressure washing.
Instead, once the build up of algae, lichen, fungus, moss and mould – the root causes of properties looking "dirty" – has been treated, the natural "self-cleansing" of sun, rain and wind removes the surface residue through time.
By educating the cleaning trade and public about soft washing we are helping develop an industry that offers sustainable treatments to clean and maintain exterior hard surfaces.
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The free guide shows you – step by step – how to easily, quickly, and accurately create softwash business quotes.
This saves you time, is a highly professional approach, and increases your chances of winning new contracts.