You have chosen a premium product, such as Aluminum Composite Material, to clad the exterior of your building. It is natural to want to maintain its initial beauty, so we have composed this guide on how to clean ACM Panels.
Previously, we have covered the fabrication and installation of ACM cladding, and the journey does not end there. Cleaning is a necessary obligation for any aspect of a building. Fortunately, ACM cleans up well. By following this simple guide to exterior cleaning for ACM Panels, you will have shining siding once more in no time at all!
In this article, you will learn how to clean the common blemishes an exterior will face, some helpful tips for maximizing effectiveness (while minimizing effort), and finally, the properties of ACM that make the job so easy.
Grab a cloth and a bucket of water. Together, we can make these panels shine!
How to Clean ACM Board Correctly
Much like birds flying out of the nest for the first time, ACM Panels have their protective peel removed and are thrown into a chaotic and hazardous world. ACM is geared to bear the brunt of whatever nature has to offer, but they sometimes get temporarily blemished as a result. The following list details common stains and how to clean them.
Dust is everywhere! A testament to the tenacity of dust is that it can sometimes slick to the sleek metal of ACM. This task is simple: a quick wipe with a cloth is all it takes to remove dust effectively. Some elect to use a store-bought duster, while a microfiber cloth is enough to do the trick. Every so often, beat off the cloth so you are not just dragging dust from one section of the panelling to the next.
Sometimes, especially at the end of a multifaceted construction project, you end up with some glue, caulking, or another adhesive on your ACM panels. Of all ailments your metal cladding can see, adhesives can bring the most trouble. Do not worry; these tips will be helpful!
Time is of the essence. If you see wet glue on ACM, make removal a top priority. At this stage, all it takes is a cloth and some water. If the adhesive is dried, it will take some more elbow grease to get it off the ACM. More than a simple wipe, the majority of the glue will need to be picked and peeled off.
You will be tempted to use something strong and sharp, such as a chisel, to aid this task, but that risks scratching and damaging the ACM panel below. Start small with some cardboard, and graduate to stronger measures–such as a piece of plywood, as you go.
Once the bulk of the glue is picked off, the rest can be scrubbed off with a soaked cloth. The wetter will blend with the glue and make it softer.
Dirt is a common blemish. For large stains, rinse with a low-pressure hose first. If you go with a wet cloth to start, you will just be spreading the dirt around and will leave ugly streaks. Once the panels are rinsed, wipe with a cloth soaked with water and mild detergent. A sponge or a squeegee will also work well, as these are more reusable than a cloth.
Rinse once more with the hose, spreading the water evenly to avoid streaks and the dirt is gone!
If you live in a cold winter climate, you know the havoc salt unleashes on the wheel wells of your car. If your building is close to high-traffic roads, salt stains may be on the lower end of your cladding throughout the winter. Mild detergent and water during spring cleaning work wonders!
Any grease is easy to remove from ACM. Similar to the principles of cleaning dirt, rinse off large areas first so you do not streak the grease around, then bring out the soap and water!
Some of us have hands that are a tad more clammy than others, and that is okay! There is nothing that a fingerprint on ACM hates more than a little bit of water and maybe some mild detergent.
People who manage and maintain buildings inhabited by or frequented by children know that a couple of curious little hands unleash a world of chaos for cleaners. With ACM panels, fingerprints are not a worry!
As important as it is to facilitate local art movements, you do not wish for your exterior to be a canvas for anyone with a can of spray paint. Fortunately, Alpolic (a popular ACM manufacturer), Sherwin-Williams, and Watts Removal Products offer simple solutions to protect your ACM panels from vandalism and graffiti. Alpolics products come with built-in Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings, which means that their ACM is graffiti-resistant.
In addition, wax polymer coating, available at Watts Removal Products’ online store, creates a thin skin on your ACM that will protect against even the most prolific graffiti artists your neighbourhood has to offer!
When graffiti does stick, it is the coatings that are being tagged, not the panels themselves. In this case, Sherwin-Williams recommends a brush and wipe-off system from Graffiti Removal Services (GRS).
Tips On cleaning ACM metal Panels
Here are some practical tips so you can clean smarter, not harder!
Check the Weather
Have you ever gotten a car wash in the morning, only for it to rain in the afternoon? The same idea translates to cleaning your ACM panels. The sleek metallic makeup of this material facilitates natural cleaning during rainfall (an attribute that pairs well with rainscreen cladding). A rainy day is going to do much of the cleaning for you, so make sure you are not putting in unnecessary effort while dark clouds are appearing overhead.
In addition, the temperature can impact the effectiveness of the cleaning, as well as cause unnecessary damage to the panelling. Avoid weather that is either too hot or too cold. Aim to clean in the shade: direct sunlight will dry any water and detergent too quickly, resulting in streaks.
When to Clean
A quick rinse with water, if done on a regular basis, can mitigate much of the need for deep cleaning. The best practice is to perform a rinse on the ACM panels as frequently as you would clean the building’s windows (which varies based on the surrounding environment)
It is better to let blemishes accumulate and do a single cleaning session to eliminate them. For example, Spring is the best time to clean up salt stains, which will not come back around for another year.
Many owners of ACM panel exteriors find a deep cleaning every six months to a year to be timely and effective (provided they have kept up the practice of rinsing with water every so often).
For anything with properties that stick or harden, such as glue, it is better to move quickly. Get it done right away before it moulds its way into your exterior design.
In either case, assessing the need and scheduling based on that is going to take the stress out of cleaning. The climate, location, and use case for your building will infer the best frequency by which you should clean your ACM panels.
Sometimes, a cure can hurt more than a sickness. ACM boasts physical and chemical resistance, but as with anything, start small and grow from there to avoid damage. A general rule is to start with a damp cloth and escalate measures gradually until a solution is found.
Alpolic recommends the following escalations should their products not be cleanable with just mild detergent and water. Light residue and build-up can be cleaned safely with Micraclean Professional All Purpose Cleaner (recommended dilution ranging from full strength to 1:1 water to solution ratio when using a hand cloth).
Heavier blemishes call for Micrachem 500 Cleaner/Degreaser Concentrate (recommended dilution ranging from full strength to 3:1 water to solution ratio when using a hand cloth). When upping the ante with anything other than water, it is always wise to test the cleaning product on a hidden area of the panelling so you know exactly the effect it will have on the material’s finish.
ACM cladding can go all the way up to the roof of your building! Do not break your neck for some Spring cleaning, and approach the cleaning with some innovation. A low-pressure hose can handle most blemishes at heights (the worst grime is typically found closer to the ground). If there is some second-floor scrubbing to do, ditch the ladder. You can simply use a mop with a long handle or a squeegee designed for the task!
That said, the arm on a squeegee can only go so far. For larger buildings, ladders, harnesses, and safety ropes are of absolute necessity for safe and effective work. This is a case that is best left to professionals who know how to repel buildings safely: many window washing services have the tools and skills for cleaning metallic cladding at great heights.
The last thing you want is to have to clean up after a cleaning job. Being mindful of streaks is the key to getting the job done right the first time. Clean on a mild day, know when to tag in a fresh rag, spread water and soap evenly, and rinse well. The best solution for avoiding streaks is using a squeegee!
It may be easier to throw out a disposable rag than to wash clothes for reuse, but this is not environmentally sustainable nor cost-effective over multiple cleaning sessions! Help reduce waste and the cost of cleaning by using reusable cleaning tools.
Quality Panels, Easy Cleaning
Now that we have gone through good cleaning practices for ACM panels, you may be interested in digging deeper: learning the properties that make the material so expedient to clean!
Quality ACM is finished with either Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) or Fluoroethylene Vinyl Ether Resin (FEVE).
For anyone who is not a chemist, PVDF is a paint that resists elemental damage to the aluminum found below. A primer, finish, and varnish are applied during manufacturing to not only give ACM its gloss but also preserve it. Most grime will slide off PVDF paint, and what does stick just needs a little prodding with some soap and water. FEVE, a resin, works to a similar easily-cleaned effect while being clearer and offering a higher gloss range than PVDF.
At Wiedehopf, our job may end with the installation of ACM panels, but we want our clients to enjoy their modern exteriors for years to come. We are committed to serving only quality ACM that is primed, finished, and varnished for success in many conditions. We strive to provide the best information for you to make cleaning as simple as possible!
Spring is here, and we are all cleaning. Fortunately, we do not have to spend much time and effort to restore the gloss of ACM panels!
If your building is not clad with ACM, and these low-maintenance properties appeal to you, be sure to call +1 (905) 761 9791 to speak to one of our cladding experts, at no obligation.
Together, we can clad your building with ACM panels that will look good, with low effort, for a long time!