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Common building stains & how to remove them

Posted on by J Radford Group

Whether your building is used for business purposes or is government property, staining of external brickwork and features is a common occurrence. These stains often mean that even the most impressive buildings look dirty.

With such a range of stains – from the naturally occurring to the stains we create ourselves – it is sometimes hard to know which type of staining you have. Equally as daunting is the question of how to tackle such stains, which is why we’ve created a handy guide.

Take a look below to identify the causes of staining and how blast cleaning can revitalise your building’s exterior.



Black or dark brown stains on brickwork can often be associated with soot and smoke. These stains can be found anywhere on a building, but are often found surrounding a chimney stack or cap.

Soot stains are caused primarily by chimneys spewing out smoke and ash, but it can also be caused by general air pollution from cars and buildings nearby. This is a particular issue for buildings in cities blighted by traffic, as well as in residential areas where chimney usage is still common.



Thicker than soot stains, oil stains leave your brickwork in a coating or splattering of black. Sometimes associated with oil burning, this stain can again be found around chimneys and vents, but it can also come as part of general staining if your building is exposed to works which involve oil, such as garages and manufacturing.



Where a building has been stained by paint, it’s usually an accidental spillage or splattering. Aside from these accidents however, there are instances where paint can run off the structure it was intended for. These runoff stains are probably less expected and occur over time where the paint has lost some colouring in the rain.



One of the worst offending stains, not only does plantlife and moss make for an unsightly building, but it can also cause lasting damage to brickwork where it has taken root and expanded.

Algae and moss are usually present when there is plenty of moisture, giving a sickly green hue to your building. This gives a ruinous look to any building, causing long term damage if left unchecked.

Should I attempt to clean my own building?

Many people will attempt to tackle these stains themselves, sometimes with success, but more often than not it can result in damage to brickwork and masonry.

Just because elbow grease gets rid of stains from other surfaces, it does not mean it will work here. At best you will get most of the stain out, but only by taking a surface layer off the brick or stone itself.

Whether it’s the brickwork or the finish which has been applied to it, you risk permanent and irreversible damage by not selecting the right cleaning techniques and products.

Through professional cleaning you can restore your building without worrying about lasting damage. Blast cleaning is most commonly used to get rid of stubborn stains without breaking down the natural composition of your building.

Different Types Of Blast Cleaning


Sand Blasting

This form of blasting is no longer referred to as “sand” blasting as this is illegal due to health risks which come with silica. Instead, glass grit is used as an environmentally friendly material to perform abrasive blasting on buildings. This is a common blasting technique deployed for cleaning.


Shot Blasting

This type of blasting uses small particles thrown out at a surface for cleaning or for preparation. Typically, shot blasting is used on metal surfaces, meaning that any metal parts of your building in need of cleaning can be catered for. Different levels of shot blasting can be applied for cleaning, polishing or preparing.


Grit Blasting

When it comes to grit blasting there are a number of different materials which can be used. Each material will have a different density and therefore produce differing results. Even something as soft as walnut shells can be used, producing a light abrasive effect on the surface it is directed towards.

Looking for professional blast cleaning?

There are so many risks involved with trying to clean your building, with harsh chemicals and unnecessarily powerful jet blasting risking damage to surfaces. If you’re looking to rid your building of stains – be it from soot, oil, paint or moss and algae – look no further than J Radford Group.

With years of experience in blast cleaning, as well as a range of equipment and techniques at our disposal, ensuring that we can clean efficiently and effectively. Preserving the look and integrity of your building is important, which is why we assess the materials and surfaces involved before carrying out the correct cleaning procedure.

For more details on blast cleaning for your building, or to arrange an appointment today, simply contact us and our professional team will be on hand to help.

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