Assessment of different methods for cleaning the limestone façades of the former workers hospital of Madrid, Spain

Elena M. Perez-Monserrat, Maria J. Varas, Rafael Fort, Monica Alvarez De Buergo

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14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Five different methods for cleaning the limestone façades on what was originally the Workers Hospital in Madrid are analyzed in this paper. Due to the pollution in the surrounding air, just 20 years after a prior cleaning operation, sulfate crusts had developed on the entire stone surface of the building. The gypsum mortar used in the original masonry constituted an additional source of sulfur. Limestone is a traditional building material in Madrid and its surroundings. The petrography, mineralogy and petrophysical properties of the biomicrite, pelmicrite and biopelmicrite varieties of limestone identified in the hospital walls were determined. Analysis of a black layer on the stone surface showed that it consisted primarily of sulfate crusts. The cleaning methods tested were alkaline gels (sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide), pressurized hot water, glass bead blasting and latex peeling. The criteria for assessing the effectiveness and potential risks of the various cleaning systems included changes in the chromatic parameters of the stone, the formation of alteration products (i.e. salts) and modification of the stone surface. The stones cleaned with the three most effective methods, together with a rain-washed stone as a reference, were washed with water to generate an artificial runoff. The collected drain water was analyzed to determine the presence of any by-products from the cleaning process. The method found to be most effective and which caused the least alteration to the stone surface was glass bead blasting, particularly after adjustment of the bead size and pressure conditions used for the test. © 2011 The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)298-313
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in Conservation
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

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