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How to Wash a Metal Building

Steel Building Maintenance- Part 1

Keeping a steel structure in tiptop condition begins with knowing how to wash a metal building. Ignoring the foreign matter building up on your structure and neglecting metal building maintenance is not an option.

While cleaning a metal building is a very simple procedure, there are a few guidelines.

Dirt, grime, greasy residue, leaves, bird stains, and mineral deposits naturally collect on all structures. The longer the grime builds up, the greater the chance for corrosion and oxidation to damage your metal building.

Ultraviolet light (UV) can degrade the color of steel building panels— just as it does on your car. Once bright, attractive, glossy panels start to look faded over time— especially in very sunny southern climates.

Rain washes some of this chalky white coating away, but not all. Washing a metal building and proper metal building maintenance removes the chalk-like film, preserving the good looks and original glossy color of the structure.

When to Wash

To protect your building investment, wash a metal building at least once annually.

For the best metal building maintenance care, schedule bi-annual cleanings. After the leaves have fallen in autumn is a great time clear away any leaves and twigs collected on the roof. Wash again in the spring to remove winter residue.

In heavily industrialized areas, consider washing the building three times per year. Coastal areas where salt-borne air covers surfaces may also require more frequent cleanings.

Preparing to Wash

Remove any foreign items around the base of the structure.

Water all nearby shrubbery, plants, and flowerbeds thoroughly so they will more easily shed any soapy detergent. Cover bushes and plants with tarps before washing the structure for added protection.

Close all doors and windows tightly.

Cover all exterior lights, utility boxes and meters, power outlets, and anything else penetrating the building envelope.

Shut off all power in the structure at the breakers— especially to any exterior lights or electrical sockets.

Using a soft long-handled brush or a broom, lightly wipe the outside of the structure to loosen dirt and remove sticky, stubborn spider webs.

How to Wash

Pressure washing is the easiest way to clean a metal building. Purchase an inexpensive pressure washer— or rent one locally at a home improvement store.

Using the lowest pressure setting, spray plain water over the building to pre-soak the structure.

Mix 1/4 cup of mild, phosphate-free laundry detergent mixed with each gallon works for most steel structures. However, when in doubt, consult your metal building supplier for their recommendations.

Opt for hot water; cold water does not clean grease affectively.

Again, using the lowest setting, apply the soapy liquid with the power washer.

For best results, move section by section, working from top to bottom.

Keep the nozzle at least three feet from the metal surface.

Some types of overhead doors do not seal well. Wash these doors by hand, if necessary, to avoid water leaking into the structure. (Clean self-storage units doors by hand to avoid water damage to your clients’ storage items.)

Heavily soiled areas may need a second application. Employ a scrub-brush attachment to the power washer if necessary.

Rinse the building thoroughly with fresh, clear water to remove all traces of detergent.

Do-It-Yourself… or NOT

If you are able, cleaning a metal building makes a great do-it-yourself project.

However, do not avoid metal building maintenance because you do not want to tackle the job yourself. Hire outside help to do the job if necessary. Call several local handyman services in your area. (For your own protection, select a bonded service with both liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance.)

RHINO’s Easy-Care Steel Buildings

RHINO Steel Building Systems offers you these tips on how to wash a metal building and how to perform metal building maintenance.

Our commercial and industrial steel buildings require very little maintenance. With just a little care, your RHINO structures will retain their value and beauty for many decades.

For more information on RHINO’s top-of-the-line steel buildings and metal building maintenance, call 940.383.9566. RHINO ships premium pre-engineered steel buildings all across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Get a free quote on your next low-rise building project.