Care and Maintenance Guide for Finishes


A structure’s finish requires cleaning and maintenance prior to, during, and after installation.  The buildings themselves are highly durable and constructed to withstand severe environmental elements; however, their surface finishes can become tarnished and deteriorate over time. To prevent this, Solar Innovations, Inc. has compiled the following care and maintenance guide for the preservation of your finish.

Anodized Aluminum

Anodized aluminum is exceptionally resistant to corrosion, discoloration, and wear; however, its surface finish can be marred by harsh chemicals, abuse, or neglect.

Cleaning Schedule

The aluminum should be cleaned as soon as the product is installed to remove construction and environmental soils and discolorations. All exterior surfaces collect varying amounts of soil and dirt, depending on their finish and environmental conditions of their location. These factors determine the type and frequency of cleaning required.

Cleaning Procedures

To clean your anodized structure, start at the top, and proceed downward. Rinse areas the width of the stage or scaffolding with a forceful water spray. Specifications for removing light and heavy soils are as follows:

Removing Light Soils

Washing should be done using uniform pressure, first horizontally, then vertically.

  • Flush the surface with water using moderate pressure.
  • If soil is still present after the surface dries, scrub the surface with a brush or sponge while continuously spraying it with water.
  • If dirt persists, use a mild detergent with a brush or sponge.
  • Thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water.
  • Use MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) or a similar solvent to remove oil, wax, polish, etc.

Removing Heavy Soils

Removing heavy surface soils may require the use of an abrasive cleaning pad.

  • Thoroughly soak the pad with clean water or mild detergent.
  • Hand scrub the surface with uniform pressure in the direction of the metal grain.
  • Scrubbing with a nylon-cleaning pad impregnated with a surface protecting material is also recommended for stubborn stains.
  • Thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water.
  • Let the surface air dry or wipe it down with a lint-free cloth.

Removing Extreme Soils

You may need to use power-cleaning tools for unusually heavy soils on large areas.

  • When using power tools, the surface must be continually flushed with clean water or a mild detergent to provide lubrication and a medium for carrying away the dirt.
  • Rinse the area with clean water, and thoroughly scrub it with a stiff bristle brush after it has been washed by a machine.
  • The surface may be air dried or wiped dry.

Cleaning Precautions

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

  • Never use aggressive alkaline or acid cleaners.
  • Avoid cleaning hot or sun-heated surfaces, since chemical reactions will be highly accelerated and cleaning non-uniformity could occur.
  • Strong organic solvents may extract stain-producing chemicals from sealants and may   affect the function of sealants.
  • Do not use strong cleaners on glass and other areas where the cleaner may come in contact with the aluminum.
  • Excessive abrasive rubbing should not be used, since it could damage the finish
  • Never use MEK or similar solvents on anodic finishes protected by clear organic coatings unless the coating has deteriorated and should be removed.
  • Be sure to exercise extreme caution when using solvents, because they have the potential to damage organic sealants, gaskets, and finishes.

Powder Coatings

Over time, powder coatings may show signs of weathering, such as loss of gloss, chalking, and slight color change from being exposed to the elements. These structures must be cleaned according to the outlined specifications in order to maintain their finish.

Cleaning Schedule

Regular cleaning is required at least once a year. A simple regular cleaning will minimize the effects of weathering and remove dirt, grime, and other build-up. Regular cleaning frequency depends on factors including location, atmospheric pollution, and building protection.

Cleaning Procedures

The products should be cleaned as soon as installation is complete to ensure construction materials, such as concrete, plaster, and paint splashes, are removed before they have a chance to damage the surface. Failure to remove these materials at this early stage will require the use of potentially damaging, aggressive cleaning materials and techniques. Cleaning should be executed according to the following guidelines:

  • Use clean water with slight additives of neutral washing agents (pH 5-8) with the aid of non-abrasive soft cloths, rags, or industrial cotton.
  • Use mineral spirits free of aromatics (chemical compounds) and alcohol to remove greasy, oily, or sooty substances. Adhesives, silicone cartouche, and adhesive tapes can also be removed this way.
  • Joint sealants and other aids that come into contact with coated surfaces must be pH-neutral and free of paint-damaging substances, and they must first be subjected to a suitability test.
  • Rinse with clean cold water immediately after every cleaning process.
  • The entire cleaning process can be repeated if necessary after 24 hours.
  • A suitability test must be taken for metallic powder coatings due to the danger of changes in a color tone.
  • Avoid strong rubbing when cleaning the surface.
  • Detergents must not be used at temperatures higher than 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The maximum exposure period of detergents must not exceed one hour.
  • Do not use solvents containing ester, ketones, alcohol, aromatics, ethylene glycol, or halogenated hydrocarbon.
  • Do not use scratching or abrasive agents.
  • Do not use strong acids, alkaline detergents, or similar products.
  • Do not use detergents of unknown composition.
  • Do not use stream-jet devices/power cleaning tools.

Cleaning Precautions

Further information for maintenance and cleaning can be obtained from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA).

Kynar 500 ® or Hylar 5000 ® Fluoropolymer Spray Coatings

Cleaning Schedule

An annual cleaning of fluoropolymer spray coatings is necessary to extend coating life and remove build-ups of resins and other residue.

Cleaning Procedures

Cleaning should be executed according to the following guidelines:

  • Wash with plain water using hose or pressure spray equipment.
  • Use heavy duty dry powdered detergent combined with 1/3 cup of water when surfaces are heavily soiled.
  • Use soft bristled brush to make cleaning easier.
  • Rinse with clean, cold water immediately after cleaning.
  • Areas subject to high humidity levels can experience mildew growth, which should be removed using the following solution:

1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent

2/3 cup tri-sodium phosphate or TSP

1 qt. sodium hypochlorite 5% solution

3 qts. water

Cleaning Precautions

  • Avoid strong solvent and abrasive-type cleaners.
  • Remove heavy soils, such as oil, grease, tar, wax, etc., by wiping with a cloth soaked in mineral spirits. Wipe only contaminated areas; follow with detergent cleaning and rinse thoroughly.

Each coating is different; therefore it is essential to follow the exact specifications outlined for each type of finish. Properly cleaning and maintaining your structure’s surface will minimize the need for touch-ups in the future and extend the lifetime of the building.

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