Anderson Facilities Group Blog

3 Key Areas To Improve a Commercial Building's Exterior Appearance

Richard Anderson - Saturday, March 12, 2016

With Spring just around the corner, many Property and Facilities Managers will be faced with the inevitable challenge of cleaning up the exterior of the building after a cold, salty winter. Aside from the parking lot and landscaping, two large annual budget items, there are three key areas to focus attention in order to bring your commercial building's exterior appearance back to life.


Concrete: After several applications of salt and dirt over the course of the winter, concrete can look worn, filthy and chalky. From sidewalks to dumpster pads to the building facade, each of these areas typically need a thorough cleaning to remove the dirt, debris and layers of salt. Chemicals, even the "safe" products, contain chlorides which are mildly acidic and can attack the bonds that hold concrete together. This increases the pore size and can allow water into the concrete and exacerbate the freeze/ thaw cycle. Hiring a qualified company to pressure clean these areas (and make repairs to damaged concrete) is important as it removes the harmful contaminants from the surface and improves the appearance.


Metal: Every commercial building has an assortment of metals on the exterior of the building. Whether it be the monument sign, handrails, light bollards, entrances (doors and side light window frames) or the window mullions - each anodized or painted aluminum, bronze or stainless steel finish is affected by the harsh winter. Metal gradually destructs from a chemical reaction to its environment. Anodized aluminum starts to form pitting or shows signs of degradation, bronze becomes oxidized and stainless steel begins to rust. All resulting from the chemical reaction of airborne pollutants and the application of salt products. These surfaces need attention come Spring. A qualified contractor can clean each of the metal surfaces and apply a barrier (wax) to protect the metal from further harm. In extreme cases where the metal has been damaged beyond a simple cleaning, such as the chalking of dark anodized aluminum window mullions, a quality contractor can clean and apply a clear synthetic coating to bring the mullions back to life and protect between services.


Glass: Window cleaning is a routine maintenance item that most every building has budgeted year after year. However, the glass panes at many buildings need more attention than this routine cleaning. Many buildings' irrigation systems repeatedly spray water onto the first floor windows leaving calcium and magnesium deposits known as lime scale. This film is difficult to remove and, left untreated, can cause irreparable harm to the glass. The longer the film sits on the surface, the more difficult it is to remove. An annual or semi-annual professional removal of this film is recommended to keep this film from causing permanent damage.


By focusing attention to these three key areas, a Property Manager, Facilities Manager or property owner can improve the appearance of the exterior of their commercial building which aids in both tenant relations and the ability to lease the property in a timely manner.


Keeping Up The Facade

Richard Anderson - Thursday, November 26, 2015

When discussing the cleaning of a building's facade with a potential client, I often hear the objection "Ownership won't spend money on the cleaning of the building. 

  • We know it is dirty and needs attention, but they won't spend money on anything that does not directly effect the common areas leading to their tenants' space." I then remind the potential client the exterior of the building is the first impression their tenant has of the space they are leasing. Furthermore, every building is a permanent billboard constantly selling their leasable space. The appearance of the building is the second most important investment for any owner, just behind their HVAC system (a tenant's comfort is priority #1).
When a potential tenant visits a building, the first impression is the building's exterior. Is the building clean? Is the facade covered in dirt and mildew? Do the windows appear streaky and dirty? Do the first floor windows have calcium buildup from the sprinklers? Is the monument sign clean and in good condition? Are the sidewalks leading to the entrances clean and free of dirt and gum? Is the parking garage (where applicable) clean or covered in dirt and pollutants. So often, the building's appearance takes a back seat to the interior surfaces.
Maintaining a clean exterior appearance is easier than you would think. With regular maintenance and cleaning, the building's facade and surrounding exterior surfaces can look their best at all times.


  • Here are some important factors to remember when maintaining the exterior surfaces of a commercial building:
  2.  - Aluminum mullions (window frames) should be cleaned and protected against potential pitting due to atmospheric contaminants to ensure longevity.
  •  - Stone surfaces should be cleaned using appropriate chemicals (when applicable) and a water-based surface treatment applied to allow for breathability, allow for ease of routine cleaning and protect from harmful pollutants.
  •  - Glass should be free of streaking caused by repeated runoff of hard water which carries calcium and other harmful minerals. These minerals will eat away at the surface of the glass and gradually cause the glass to appear "etched". Make sure to hire an experienced professional to remove the "etching" from the glass. There is a cost associated with this process, however, it is far less than replacing the affected windows.
  •  - Metal surfaces of entrances should be cleaned and protected (paint or clear lacquer) against potential pitting due to atmospheric contaminants and regular wear and tear from constant use.
By addressing each of these items above, you will provide each of your current and potential tenants with a building they can be proud to call their professional home.


Anderson Facilities Group provides facilities maintenance services such as (but not limited to) window cleaning, carpet cleaning, pressure cleaning, floor care, plumbing, electrical, architectural restoration and facade cleaning. For more information contact AFG at


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126 E. Wing St

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Arlington Heights, IL 60004


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