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Question DetailsAsked on 2/6/2018

I am trying to figure out what type of insulation facing we have at our work shop. Any ideas how to tell?

We are attempting to give the insulation facing a light clean and hold off on replacing a big longer. Identifying the facing type will help us do so. How would I be able to identify which kind of facing it is without it being labeled anywhere?

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1 Answer


You could take a sample cutting around to a couple of commercial insulation and building material suppliers - and maybe to a metal building installer in your area - they might recognize it.

Could also be, if you pull a corner free, that there is a label strip on the back - or printed facing if double-faced.

Otherwise, since trying to pressure wash it is a pretty bad idea (lot of leakge at columns and crossbeams and joints, whjich would take a lot of heated air blowing t the surface (and it sounds like a large surface area), not to mention getting electrical wet, I would just plan on shutting the power off to all outlets on the walls, and hand-washing with sponge and Dawn and TSP, like you would a house wall. Wash from bottom up to top, then rinse pass with water only in sponge from top back down to bottom, rinsing the sponge out frequently and keeping it wet but not dripping to minimize water getting into the insulation. Reason for bottom up washing - dirty water running down over dry surface can easily stain beyond what hand washing will remove. Work bottom up, in vertical bands, so the rinse pass from top to bottom is done before the bottom part dries and can be stained by runs or drips.

If real dusty, blowing with a leaf blower or air hose first (with proper respiratory protection and venting to prevent explosive dust concentration) will make for less washing, because a really heavily dusted up surface takes a LOT of sponge rinsing out.

On the sponges - there are about 1-2 foot wide varieties of sponges and car-washing brushes on handles for doing large surfaces - available at commercial cleaning supply places for building exterior surface and window cleaning.

Of course, test first on a spot to see if the coating is tough enough to handle the washing - should be if designed to be exposed (a fire-rated modified woven polypropylene probably in that case) or is a polyethylene vapor barrier which is not supposed to be exposed and likely will tear easily.

Pay attention to floor too - to prevent drips from staining that. If ableto keep wet during the work that will reduce staining risk - make sure at stop of work (lunch, end of day,, etc) that all washed surfaces and floor are washed to prevent setting of stains - or rusty/colored stains if any of the dust is paint or metal or dye or pigment-containing dust.

If the coating is pure white or translucent with visible fiber mesh embedded in it, likely is designed as an exposed commercial metal building insulation and should take wadhing with reasonable care OK. If clear or hazy translucent, without visible reinforcing, likely is vapor barrier and will tear and come off a lot easier - but try washing a corner area where it will not show much and see.

Bear in mind, especially if this is to be done by in-house personnel rather than window washers or professional building cleaners, assuming a fair sized and high-ceiling building, you will need to train personnel and do it from scaffolding or, after training, from a manlift (though they can be real dangerous with inexperienced people).

One other thing - if this is friction-fit insulation (just jammed between the columns) good idea to have them pull any sagging top edges of the insulation back up to the top of the bay and taping it with insulation tape, to fill the air gap which forms at the top as batt insulation settles.

When you do go to replace it (if you do that rather than covering it with a washable facade), be sure to check on local building code requirements regarding fire resistance - you do not want an exposed highly combustible facing in the sho which can go from ignition to totally engulfed building space in seconds. Some insulation facing (though it should not be allowed if the safety people were doing their job) is terribly combustible - like the highrise cladding insulation in that London apartment building fire.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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