Dirty, chalky or grimy roll-up doors can detract from your self-storage facility's curb appeal. In addition, if you don't care for your doors, the paint will eventually be damaged, which will lower your property value.
Even new doors need cleaning. Removing dust, dirt and road salt will not only make your facility look better, it will protect the paint. Even if your doors aren't extremely oxidized or faded, dust and grime can make your property look like it’s not well-maintained. Customers tend to rent from facilities that look clean and well-treated. Keeping your doors clean will improve your curb appeal and prolong paint life.
Ways to Wash
The paint on your self-storage doors is baked on and will last for years without fading. After time, however, the paint on exterior doors is burnt off by the sun, and the remaining paint will chalk and oxidize. Customers don’t appreciate this oxidation when it gets on their hands and clothes.
If you see splotchy, lighter-colored areas on your doors, that’s touch-up paint the contractors applied to hide any scratches or blemishes when your doors were installed. Because this paint is not baked on, it fades faster. You can clean these areas with a no-scratch scrubby pad or restore them with a quality, clear, protective coating made for metal.
If you’re in a region that uses salt for ice or snow control, rinse any areas where the salt can come in contact with metal doors or buildings with fresh water to stop corrosion. Here are some more do’s and don’ts for cleaning you exterior doors.
- Wash the doors in the shade, if possible. Just like when you wash your car in the sun, hard water can leave spots.
- Use a small amount of free rinsing detergent like Original Dawn or Joy dish soap. These rinse off easily and are gentle on your paint. Just a little bit of mild, biodegradable soap in a bucket of water will work wonders. You can also use a solution of household ammonia—one cup of ammonia dissolved into five gallons of water with a little soap added for wetting.
- Wash by hand. Use a mild soap, water and soft-bristled brushes on poles or microfiber towels and plain water. If there's heavy oxidation, chalk or stains, you can use a no-scratch scrubby pad before the washing process. Wash from side to side on roll-up or panel doors. Do not allow the soap to dry on the surface. Rinse completely with plain water and let dry.
- Remove any chalk. Your doors will look better, and customers will appreciate not getting chalk on their hands and clothes.
- Rinse the doors completely with a soft spray of a hose or just let the water run down the door. This will remove the dirty water and soap residue.
- Use water under pressure, as water can get into the units. Power or pressure washing is not recommended because most doors lack seals to keep the water out. Even a nozzle on a garden hose can apply too much pressure. You must take care to avoid the opening above the door and the C channels on the edges.
- Apply soap solution to a dry surface, as it can cause streaks. Test a small area first to make sure your paint is compatible with any cleaning procedures.
- Use vinegar. The acid can etch your aluminum hasps and bottom, causing rust.
- Use silicone-based products like Pledge, as future paints or restoration coatings cannot adhere to them.
- Use oily products like WD-40. Dirt and dust is attracted to these products and will make a real mess that’s difficult to clean.
Clean But Not Great
What if your doors are clean but still dull or faded? If your doors have lost their luster and you can see the difference between when they are wet or dry, the topcoat is probably gone. A clear protective coating made for metal will restore the color and shine.
Another issue you might face is peeling paint. If your doors are peeling, chances are they’ve been repainted in the past. The loose paint will need to be removed, and the area should be feathered in, primed and painted. This should probably be done by a professional, as it can be challenging to paint metal, especially on a flexible roll-up door.
Interior doors or panels offer different cleaning challenges. Hallway doors lack a protective lip, so any spilled water will seep under the doors or walls and damage stored goods. For this reason, it’s a bad idea to clean these doors with buckets of water. As an alternative, there are waterless wash and wax products that can be sprayed on and wiped off with a cloth. Spray cleaners like Formula 409 or Fantastik will work for spot cleaning. Microfiber towels work well because they don't leave lint or fibers like rags or terrycloth towels.
Keeping your doors clean will improve the look of your property and the life of the metal. The better the curb appeal, the better you can attract and keep happy customers.
Teresa Sedmak is president of Everbrite Inc., which manufactures Everbrite Protective Coating, ProtectaClear coating and a variety of building cleaners. She is a licensed painting contractor with extensive experience and knowledge of protective coatings. For more information, call 800.304.0566; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.renewstorage.com .