How do you clean anodized aluminum?

CherryAirport09Anodized architectural finishing gives a tough and long-lasting surface to aluminum. This is particularly useful for high-traffic areas of a building, where hardness and abrasion resistance is vital. While anodize is as hard as sapphire (the second hardest substance in the world), it still requires regular maintenance and care.

Although anodized aluminum is exceptionally resistant to corrosion, discoloration and wear, it can be marred by harsh chemicals, abuse or neglect. Periodic maintenance inhibits long-term accumulation of soil, which can accelerate weathering of the finish.

It depends on the weather

The environment of the building will influence the cleaning frequency your anodized surfaces require. Factors such as smog, condensation or low rainfall areas can contribute to a surface needing more frequent cleanings to remove salt and dirt build-up. Areas that have seasonal rainfall to help remove water-soluble deposits and soil will require cleaning less often.

TampaMuseumofArt-close-up-webIt depends on the placement

Regardless of climate, recessed and sheltered areas usually become more heavily soiled because of the lack of rain-washing. Overhangs, bottoms of fascia panels and sheltered column covers are particularly susceptible to soil build-up. If not addressed, this can lead to accelerated weathering of the anodized finish. Integrating this as part of the building’s overall maintenance schedule is the most efficient and economical way to make sure soil and salt build-up is kept in check.

It depends on the build-up

The severity and tenacity of the soil build-up will determine progressively stronger cleaning procedures that can help maintain a building’s anodized surfaces. Be cautious. Experiment on a small area of the building, using stronger methods until you find the one that works.

  • For light soil, flush the surface with water using moderate pressure. Let it air dry and check to see if the build-up still remains.
  • If the build-up remains, move to scrubbing with a brush or sponge while spraying with water.
  • If, and only if, that does not remove the build-up, then add a mild detergent cleaner to the scrubbing.
  • If heavy surface soil persists, add an abrasive cleaning pad to the mild detergent washing. Be sure to always scrub in the direction of the metal grain.
  • If detergent is used, rinse the surface thoroughly, multiple times, with clean water after scrubbing, to avoid detergent residue building up in place of soil.

It depends on the cleaner

Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) or similar solvents should only be used to remove oil, wax, polish or similar material from your surface. Extreme care must be exercised to keep MEK from damaging any organic sealants, gaskets and finishes around anodized surfaces. If the anodize is protected with a clear, organic coating, do not use MEK solvent, as it may deteriorate or remove the coating completely. Do not use aggressive alkaline or acid cleaners on or near anodized aluminum.

It depends on deterioration

Even if well maintained, architectural finishes, including anodize, could eventually need repair. There are solutions for both minor and major damage and deterioration of anodize, so plan accordingly. For small scratches and rub marks, minor touch-up paint can be used. The paint should closely match the color of the factory-applied anodize finish. Use caution when applying touch up paint to the damaged area. Be aware that the touch-up paint will not be as hard as the original finish and is not intended for areas larger than a few square inches.

harsh-chemical-damage-webWhen larger anodized areas are damaged beyond what a simple touch-up can fix, it is time to call in a professional. Large, full-service finishing companies often employ field service workers who are able to prepare and apply architectural paint finishes in the field. The coating used should meet the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s AAMA 2605 specification and be tinted to match the existing finish. This can be a difficult goal, particularly if only a portion of the existing surface is being refinished or the finish has already experienced some fade. Be certain to ask for an onsite sample to approve of before the full project begins.

Learn more about anodizing and its care and maintenance by clicking here. For personalized assistance in selecting or repairing anodize finishes for your aluminum building products, please contact Linetec’s regional sales managers, email sales@linetec.com or call 888-717-1472.

Care and Cleaning of Anodized Aluminum

TODAY’S HIGH QUALITY ANODIZED ARCHITECTURAL FINISHES ARE EXTREMELY DURABLE. But even the best finish needs a little TLC, and with the most careful treatment of the windows, curtain-wall or storefront during installation and daily use, occasional damage will occur.

Maple Grove Public Works, Maple Grove, MN Photo courtesy of Dri-Design

Maple Grove Public Works, Maple Grove, MN   Photo courtesy of Dri-Design

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

As with any finished building material, aluminum requires reasonable care prior to and during installation and periodic cleaning and maintenance after installation. Although anodized aluminum is exceptionally resistant to corrosion, discoloration and wear, its natural beauty can be marred by harsh chemicals, abuse or neglect. Such conditions usually affect only the surface finish but do not reduce the service life of the aluminum. All exterior surfaces collect varying amounts of soil and dirt, depending on geographic area, environmental conditions, finish and location on the building. These factors and the owner’s attitude regarding surface appearance determine the type and frequency of cleaning required. The aluminum cleaning schedule should be integrated with other cleaning schedules for efficiency and economy. For example, both the glass and the aluminum curtain wall can be cleaned at the same time.
Cleaning may be required more often in one geographic area than another when appearance is of prime importance. More frequent cleaning will be required in heavy industrialized areas than in rural areas. Seasonal rainfall can affect washing frequency by removing water-soluble deposits and less adherent soil. In foggy coastal regions, frequent cycles of condensation and drying can create a heavy buildup of atmospheric salts and dirt, which may adhere resolutely. In climates where the rainfall is low, the opportunity for atmospheric washing of the surface is minimal.
In both wet and dry climates, recessed and sheltered areas usually become more heavily soiled because of the lack of rain-washing. More frequent and longer periods of condensation also occur in protected areas, increasing the adhesion of the soil. This is particularly true of soffit areas on overhangs, bottoms of facia panels, sheltered column covers and the like. Periodic maintenance inhibits long-term accumulation of soil, which, under certain conditions, can accelerate weathering of the finish.
Cleaning Procedures

 Cleaning procedures for aluminum should be initiated as soon as practical after completion of installation to remove construction soils and accumulated environmental soils and discolorations.

Cleaning work should start at the top of the building and proceed to the ground level in a continuous drop. Using a forceful water spray, an area the width of the stage or scaffolding should be rinsed as cleaning proceeds from the top down.

Because surface soils may be light or heavy, several progressively stronger cleaning procedures may be employed depending of the severity and tenacity of the soil. Only trial and simplest procedure to remove the soil is the one that should be used.

For light soils, the simplest procedure is to flush the surface with water using moderate pressure. If soil is still present after air-drying the surface, scrubbing with a brush or sponge and concurrent spraying with water should be tried. If soils still adhere, than a mild detergent cleaner should be used with brushing or sponging. Washing should be done with uniform pressure, first horizontally then vertically. Following the washing the surfaces must be thoroughly rinsed by spraying with clean water.

If it is necessary to remove oil, wax, polish, or other similar materials, MEK or an equivalent solvent is recommended for clean up. Extreme care must be exercised when solvents of this type are used since they may damage organic sealants, gaskets and finishes. These solvents should never be used on anodic finishes protected by clear organic coatings unless the organic coating has deteriorated and should be removed.

Removing heavy surface soils may require the use of an abrasive cleaning pad. In this procedure the pad is thoroughly soaked with clean water or a mild detergent cleaner and the metal surface is hand scrubbed with uniform pressure. Scrubbing action should be in the direction of the metal grain. Scrubbing with a nylon-cleaning pad impregnated with a surface protectant material is also recommended for removing stubborn soils and stains. After scrubbing, the surface should be rinsed thoroughly with clean water to remove all residue. 
In some circumstances it may be desirable to wipe the surface with a solvent. The surface is then permitted to air dry or is wiped dry with a chamois, squeegee or lint-free cloth.

Using power-cleaning tools may be necessary to remove unusually heavy soils from large areas including panels and column covers. When using such tools, the surface must be continually flushed with clean water or a mild detergent cleaning solution to provide lubrication and a medium for carrying away the dirt. After an area has been machine scrubbed, it must be rinsed with clean water and thoroughly scrubbed with a fairly stiff bristle brush. The surface may then be air dried or wiped dry.

Inspection
Care must be taken to see that metal seams, crevices, sills and other areas that can trap water, cleaner or dirt are carefully cleaned and dried. A final inspection, by a qualified representative is recommended, to ensure that no discoloration or stains remain on the surface.
Cleaning Precautions

Certain precautions must be taken when cleaning anodized aluminum surfaces. Aluminum finishes must first be identified to select the appropriate cleaning method.

  • Aggressive alkaline or acid cleaners must never be used.
  • Cleaning hot, sun-heated surfaces should be avoided since possible chemical reactions will be highly accelerated and cleaning non-uniformity could occur.
  • Strong organic solvents, while not affecting anodized aluminum, may extract stain-producing chemicals from sealants and may affect the function of the sealants.
  • Strong cleaners should not be used on window glass and other components where it is possible for the cleaner to come in contact with the aluminum.
  • Excessive abrasive rubbing should not be used since it could damage the finish.
On-Site Touch Up and Correcting More Severe Damage
It is almost a given that some damage will occur and touch-up work will be required during or after installation. But the good news is that both painted and anodized surface damage can be easily repaired if the damage is slight such as a scratch or rub mark. Minor painted surface damage can be sanded prior to touch-up painting with excellent results. Sanding of anodized material that is going to be touched up is not recommended. The anodized surface is aluminum oxide, which is generally harder than the sandpaper. Some rub marks on an anodized surface can be removed with a mild abrasive pad such as the Scotch-Brits pad prior to touch up painting.Touch-up paint is supplied in small aerosols or bottles with a built in brush for easy application and is to be applied very sparingly. It is intended to cover small blemishes or to touch-up exposed cut ends on fabricated parts. It is not intended for use on large areas of more than a few square inches. The color will closely match the factory applied painted or anodized finish, however the finish is not as hard nor performance the same as the baked on finishes. After cleaning the area to be touched up, wipe the area with denatured alcohol to remove any moisture or cleaning residue and apply the touch-up per the finisher’s instructions. Use caution as excessive use of touch up paint may void the original finisher’s warranty.

Poplar Creek Church photo4CORRECTING MORE SEVERE DAMAGE: (Calling in the Pros) At times a window, curtain-wall or storefront frame will become damaged or discolored beyond the point where simple field touch-up will correct the problem. Damage can result from a variety of sources including final cleaning of the building facade without proper protection of the aluminum surfaces, environmental impact from sea-coast or corrosive atmosphere exposure, long term neglect, or selection of the wrong finish at the time the material was finished and fabricated.
Linetec employs field service professionals who are trained in the proper preparation and application of field applied architectural finishes. Coatings that meet AAMA 2605 specifications and which can be field applied are available to these professionals. The highly specialized coatings, known as ADS Systems, can be tinted to match an anodized finish color.
Special cleaning and pretreatment procedures are critical to achieve the desired long-term results. The ADS paint must also be formulated to closely match the characteristics of the existing finish, particularly if only a portion of the existing surfaces will be refinished. Specifically, the new coating should be formulated to have approximately the same fade or chalk characteristics as any exposed original finish so that the entire project will have a uniform appearance for many years.Completion of a field repair can be handled in several ways, but in general, will begin with an initial contact with the field service professional to describe the problem. The scope of a field-refinishing project varies greatly, involving anything from a single door or window to a building elevation or an entire building. Usually, for all but the simplest repairs, the field service professional will recommend a site visit to examine the problem.

Following the site visit the field service professional will prepare a quotation for the work to be completed and also a sample color chip for approval. At times preparation of an on site sample for approval (a single door, panel or window) will be recommended. Following acceptance of the quotation and samples and preparation of a contract for the work to be completed, the work will begin. Field repairs can generally be performed at temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The field service professional will handle all of the details such as permits, sidewalk protection and barricades.

Contracting for the services of a professional who specializes in the refinishing of architectural metals will assure that the work is completed using the correct methods and proper materials, assuring satisfaction with the long tern results guaranteed.

For addition information you can purchase the AAMA CW-10-12 Care and Handling of Architectural Aluminum from Shop to Site guide or AAMA 609 & 610-09 Cleaning and Maintenance Guide for Architecturally Finished Aluminum.

Bending and Forming of Anodized Aluminum

anodize half circles-clearerAnodized finishes provide outstanding surface properties including excellent resistance to abrasion, erosion, and ultraviolet light degradation. These finishes are highly durable, have an exceptionally long life expectancy, and require only minimum maintenance.

Anodic films are very hard, and as a result, most post-production bending of anodized aluminum causes the film to “craze,” which produces a series of small cracks in the finish. It is recommended that all forming and bending be done prior to anodizing.

Anodizers likely will not warrant parts that have been post formed.

Architectural Copper Anodize – provided by Linetec

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University of Arizona, Courtesy of Dri-Design

Linetec’s exclusive copper anodize finish maintains its initial copper color and does not patina over time. Architects  owners and residents no longer need to worry about the design complexities and maintenance issues when choosing the classic look of copper.

This exclusive copper anodize finish offers our customers the look of rich, real copper without such shortcomings as salt run-off stains, galvanic corrosion and patina.

The elegance of Copper Anodize offers:

  • Striking visual effect
  • Low maintenance

    Cobb_ExtSide-Residential-CopperANO-web

    Private Residence, Courtesy of Kolbe Windows

  • Design flexibility
  • AAMA 611 Architectural Class I process
  • Aluminum designation M10C22A44
  • 5 year standard warranty, option 10 year warranty
  • No clear coat or ongoing treatment
  • No copper run-off stains on building exterior
  • No galvanic corrosion risk when designed adjacent to other aluminum materials
  • Copper anodized aluminum is half the weight of real copper
  • Available on aluminum extrusion and sheet material up to 24 feet

Nothing compares to the luster of anodize and the beauty and classic appeal of copper. Linetec’s copper anodize gives the building personality and depth in design.

Visit www.linetec.com for more information or contact us at sales@linetec.com or 888-717-1472 for samples or a quote.

 

 

Safeguarding Anodized Aluminum

With its inherent corrosion resistance, aluminum’s ability to maintain structural integrity has been documented for decades. However, after the finish has been applied to the material, there is the unfortunate chance for damage during delivery, manufacturing or installation.

While damage often happens from handling, damage during and after installation can also occur when masonry products, or the products used to clean them, come in contact with the finished aluminum and are not readily removed. Run-down, splattering, or splashing from masonry work, mortar, plaster, concrete, and the masonry washes often used on job sites can pose a serious problem to an anodized finish.

Anodized aluminum components, including curtain walls, windows, skylights, storefront, and doors installed on a building are considered “finished” products. After these products are installed, work often continues around them on other building components such as the brickwork, concrete, and roof components. It is imperative that the anodized aluminum be well-protected and safeguarded through project completion to avoid damage, as it is difficult and sometimes impossible, to repair material in the field.

Masonry and mortar staining

Masonry and mortar staining

A stain is generally the first indication that masonry products, or the products used to clean them, have come in direct contact with finished aluminum. The color and appearance of the stain will vary depending on the contaminant and the reaction it is having with the finish on the aluminum. Anodized aluminum stains often appear white and chalky, or translucent. If allowed to remain on the anodic surface, mortar or masonry washes will attack and compromise the anodic coating beyond repair, resulting in permanent inconsistencies in the finish.

Masonry and mortar staining

Masonry and mortar staining to anodized aluminum

Upon building completion, a wash is often conducted to clean the exterior of the building and remove dirt, masonry debris, and other contaminants left from the construction process. Strong cleaners and acids used for brick and masonry work should be confined to the target area, avoiding all aluminum surfaces. Chemicals strong enough to dissolve mortar spots can quickly damage aluminum finishes and possibly damage the underlying metal. Once the finish is visually affected, irreversible damage may have occurred and the discolored/damaged part may need replacement.

In the event masonry dust, mortar, or other contaminants come in contact with the anodize, every effort should be made to immediately remove them and avoid permanent damage. Once removed, the area contacted should be flushed with water using moderate pressure to dislodge all foreign soils. If soil still adheres after drying, a mild detergent may be necessary. A mild detergent or soap, safe for use on bare hands, should be employed with brushing or sponging of the aluminum using uniform pressure, cleaning first in a horizontal motion followed by a vertical motion. Thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water.

For heavy soils such as oil, wax, polish, or a similar material that must be removed, visit the anodize section of Linetec’s website for more information.

To read and print this article in its entirety, click here.

Read more about anodized material precautions and installation concerns and cleaning and maintaining your anodized finish.