What lies beneath…the critical importance of regular façade and window redecoration
The value of a regular programme of façade and window redecoration goes far beyond the very obvious aesthetic improvements it entails. By maintaining these essential aspects of the fabric of a building of any age, significant structural benefits and thermal efficiencies come into the equation. Just as importantly, the choice of contractor can have a profound impact, not only on the efficiency and quality of works, but also the time they take – a major consideration for the operators of many commercial premises.
With a portfolio of high-profile painting and redecorating works on some of the capital’s most iconic buildings, London-based building restoration specialists Thomann-Hanry® have an impressive track record. From painting works at Sketch, Mayfair and a full façade redecoration at Kensington’s K+K Hotel George, to window decoration on a grand scale at Somerset House and over 1,000 windows at the Landmark Hotel, Thomann-Hanry® have not only the expertise, but also the equipment to tackle even the most monumental of projects.
Window maintenance and upkeep
Taking London as an example, most of the city’s iconic architecture is hundreds of years old. From a conservation perspective, redecoration is the most sustainable and carbon efficient approach for heritage buildings of this age. Professor John Edwards, MA, DipBldgCons, CEnv, FCIOB, FRICS, IHBC, an internationally renowned authority on building conservation, Chartered Environmentalist and valued Thomann-Hanry® collaborator, comments: 'Retaining and looking after historic buildings properly is the sustainable and most carbon-efficient approach – those with a view that we have to replace existing older timber windows with new windows in order to make the windows more energy efficient are misguided.' It’s a view supported by research undertaken by Glasgow Caledonian University for Historic Environment Scotland, which established an energy efficiency improvement of 15% – just by repairing existing windows. Similarly BS7913, the British Standard for historic buildings, identifies reductions in energy efficiency by over 30% due to damp building fabric in the case of masonry enclosing walls. As businesses across all sectors strive to simultaneously increase their sustainability and reduce their carbon footprints, it is clear that rigorous, regular maintenance of façades and windows is essential.
The sensitive upkeep of older wooden windows is a fundamental component of any successful maintenance regime. Unchecked, damaged or missing caulking, as well as cracks, rot and mildew, can cause untold damage which, unaddressed, ultimately leads to the need for replacement – costly at the best of times and, in the case of heritage buildings, disastrous from a conservation perspective.
It’s a similar story for the exterior coatings on many historic buildings, such as lime render and stucco. Once a coating’s integrity is compromised by the combined effects of the elements and pollution, damp can penetrate the fabric of the building. Worse still, the damage can be compounded if the correct, breathable paints, such as limewash, are not used. It’s one thing to identify structural threats, but quite another to prescribe the best treatments – working with a contractor who is not only suitably qualified, but also vastly experienced, is therefore of immeasurable value.
On older buildings, another key consideration is lead. A common constituent of exterior paints used on homes, schools and offices until as late as the 1960s, lead was not fully removed from all commonly used paint until the early 1980s. As a result, the Control of Lead at Work (CLAW) Regulations 2002 is a vitally important aspect of any façade maintenance and redecoration works. Whilst even mild levels of lead dust or fumes can cause symptoms such as headaches, anaemia and stomach pains, excessive exposure can give rise to kidney, nerve and brain damage and even possibly cancer. As a responsible contractor, Thomann-Hanry® adhere to all CLAW 2002 guidance to protect the wellbeing of their staff and any other individuals in the vicinity of works.
From a commercial standpoint, painting works can cause operational and logistical issues for business owners, so the speed and turnaround of works is a priority. Whereas most redecorating firms work from subcontracted scaffolding, as restoration and façade gommage® specialists, Thomann-Hanry® operate a fleet of company-owned Mobile Elevated Work Platforms. Agile, manoeuvrable and with a range of up to 12 storeys high, these hydraulic truck-mounted booms eliminate the need for slow and costly scaffolding – with the added security and aesthetic advantages of MEWPs being retracted and driven away at the end of each session’s work. Taking the company’s recent role in the quinquennial redecorations on behalf of Crown Estates at Regents Park as an example, renovation of a 1,000 square metre façade was completed within four weeks by MEWP, compared to seven weeks by another contractor using scaffolding.
As Thomann-Hanry® Painting Team Supervisor Russell Butler notes, 'A professionally managed regime of window and façade painting is essential for all commercial buildings, far more than just preserving the outward appearance of premises, regular redecoration by experienced, specialist contractors helps safeguard their structural, architectural and thermal integrity – today, tomorrow and long into the future.'