Our Building Restoration Kit: ThermaTech!

Most of us like showing off our new bits of tech, and it’s really no different in the blast cleaning industry. Since July 2018, we’ve been approved contractors for Restorative Techniques Ltd’s innovative new pressure cleaning technology – ThermaTech®.

It’s a fascinating bit of kit (or at least we think so!) so let’s take a look at this newest string to our bow…

What is ThermaTech® ?

ThermaTech® is an eco-friendly masonry and brickwork cleaning system, developed by Restorative Techniques Ltd. It uses superheated, pressurised steam to remove mould, mildew, and pollution staining from buildings up to a Grade II Listing. The ThermaTech® system can also remove paint, but this relies on a chemical pre-treatment which may not be suitable for all types of brick.

Restorative Techniques Ltd products are used by a number of reputable organisations such as English Heritage, the National Trust, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and a handful of historic UK cathedrals. Its main advantages are that it’s gentle and eco-friendly.

How Does ThermaTech Work?

ThermaTech works in a similar way to regular blast cleaning, but uses superheated steam applied at pressure. Think of it as a very sophisticated but exceptionally hot pressure washer! Because it just uses water, it’s in the running as one of our gentlest possible cleaning methods.

When Would SBL Use (and Not Use) ThermaTech?

As stated, ThermaTech is best used for cleaning mould, mildew, moss, pollution, and general grime from masonry and brickwork. In theory, it’s gentler and more forgiving than traditional blast cleaning methods that rely on abrasively chipping away at a coating. However, things get a little more complicated when you want to remove a coat of paint with ThermaTech.

ThermaTech usually cannot remove paint on its own. A chemical pre-treatment is usually required to soften the paint and make it easier to remove. At SBL, we strive to select the best cleaning method for each situation and not all kinds of brick are suitable for paint removal with ThermaTech. Hardy materials such as dense Victorian hard brick are ideal, but if the brick material is too soft, the paint too thick, or if there’s been years of water ingress, we’ll generally fall back on glass or soda blasting to remove paint. We often use the system alongside other methods where buildings are made of 2 or more materials.

It’s obviously a very wet process, so it’s not suitable for indoors use. We usually clean a test patch to assess the best method before we start. ThermaTech is purely for buildings and masonry, not for any kind of vehicle restoration.

This Victorian Brickwork was cleaned using a pre-treatment and Thermatech:

Paint removal from a building Thermatech paint removal from a building

What are the Benefits of Using it Above Other Blast Cleaning Methods?

If you’re concerned about preserving a historic building, you naturally want to use the gentlest methods possible. Soda blasting is generally our mildest media blasting method and works by propelling bicarbonate of soda crystals onto a surface using compressed air; the resulting friction causes paints and dirt to come away. Though it’s very gentle, there’s still messy blast media involved and it does still have an abrasive element.

ThermaTech however relies only on pressurised steam, so essentially the only thing that’s being applied is very hot water/water vapour. No solids are striking the masonry underneath, so it’s incredibly mild. There’s no spent media to deal with, and the runoff is just water, so it’s without doubt our most eco-friendly cleaning method.

Restorative Techniques’ website says that its products are designed for high performance using recyclable materials. They aim to reduce reliance on chemical cleaning agents and boost the potential of milder methods.

Who May Find ThermaTech Useful?

This service is probably most useful to building and architectural firms who are frequently tasked with restoring old properties, or organisations who operate grand old buildings such as hotels, museums, or stately homes. However if you feel your home is in need of our ThermaTech service, please do give us a call! This service can be used to brighten up most buildings up to Grade II listing status.

Are There Any Safety Precautions to be Aware of When Using ThermaTech?

The safety precautions for ThermaTech are similar to our other blast cleaning systems – it’s noisy, so ear defenders are required. It’s also messy, so a breathing mask and eye protection are needed too; there’s no spent blast media flying around but the coatings that we’re taking off have to go somewhere!

In cases where we need to apply the chemical treatment (usually for paint removal), the paint that comes off can be disposed of in a normal skip – except when the paint is lead based of course.

How Long Does it Take Compared to Other Cleaning Methods?

When not using the chemical pre-treatment, the process generally takes the same time as regular blast cleaning methods. There are two different types of the chemical primer (effectively a paint softener): a regular kind that works in 6 hours and a “rapid” variety that works in 20 minutes. For convenience, we generally use the rapid treatment. However, we can always start work on an area of a building that needs another cleaning method while we’re waiting for the treatment to take effect.

Soda Blasting Ltd are trusted by estates management and restoration professionals up and down the UK to provide a professional service and a thorough clean. Call us on 0800 774 7632 for a free, no-obligation quote!