Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (commonly referred to as GFRC) is a composite material that is more customizable than traditional concrete. It can be molded into any shape and is lightweight, durable, flame retardant. Within the field of architecture, GFRC is generally used to craft decorative facades, but also sees use in tables, countertops, fountains, and statues.
Different GFRC can have different compositions. At their base, the material is made by combining Portland cement, aggregate, acrylic materials, water, and glass fibers. Additives are included to provide aesthetic texture. The material is durable, although it does require some special considerations when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.
Pressure Washing GFRC
When used for exterior facades, GFRC can see a buildup of dirt, oils, mildew, and other particles. These contaminants are found naturally in the air and collect on surfaces. Pressure washing is a common method of cleaning exterior surfaces as it treats embedded dirt, reaches hard to find areas, and cleans large areas efficiently.
While pressure washing is possible on GFRC surfaces, the following should be taken into consideration when pressure washing GFRC panels:
- Test on a Small Area First – To make sure the pressure washer will not damage the GFRC, it is best to attempt it on a small, inconspicuous area first. This provides a chance to adjust the pressure or determine that pressure washing is incompatible with the GFRC before causing large scale damage.
- Use the Lowest Effective Pressure – The pressure on the power washer should be set as low as possible while still removing debris. Lower pressure will have less of an impact on the GRFC surface.
- Power Wash During Drier Seasons – Water left on GFRC for extended periods can cause damage to the panel and increases the risk of mold. By pressure washing only in warm, dry times of the year, you can ensure water will evaporate more quickly to allow for better drying.
GFRC should be done carefully and only by an experienced professional with proper equipment. Additionally, only mild detergents should be used in power washing as chemicals can deteriorate GFRC.
Alternative Methods for Cleaning GFRC
In general, GFRC is best cleaned by gentler methods than power washing. These include:
- Water – Plain water can be applied to the surface with a soft sponge or brush. This can often remove dust and general dirt.
- Mild Soap – For more built up debris, a mixture of mild soap and water can loosen dust. A soft sponge or fiber brush also works well here for lifting dirt from the surface of the GFRC panel.
Like power washing, it is best to first test any cleaning solution on a small inconspicuous area. Additionally, it is also recommended to protect GFRC panels with a protective finish once installed and after cleaning to limit the future build up of dirt.