Building conservation masterclass

Masonry Cleaning with David Odgers

Ref: B2D09124

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About this course

This is a comprehensive course for architects, surveyors and practitioners which covers the complex aesthetic, technical and practical issues involved in cleaning masonry (including brick and terracotta). The programme includes technical presentations that provide a sound theoretical basis for making decisions on cleaning techniques, as well as practical sessions where participants will have the opportunity to see and use a variety of cleaning systems. The course will also cover the removal of paint and biological growth from masonry and options for surface treatment following cleaning.

Course Description

Day 1

Introduction to course and participants' case studies

Day 2

Lecture. Background and introduction. Historical context for cleaning and assessing whether cleaning is required or beneficial. Types of substrate and soiling. Range of cleaning methods. The BS Code of Practice on Cleaning and Surface Repair and its implications.

Lecture. A look at historical coatings and treatments and their interaction with masonry. Coating and paint removal - the reasons for and practicalities including protection and containment.

Biological growths - identification, effects of and the ethics of removal

Lecture/Demonstration. Laser cleaning/water cleaning. Participants will be in two groups and will swap between the two

Lecture/Demonstration. Chemical cleaning: theoretical basis, relevant actions/reactions and case studies.

Evening Cleaning of St Paul's - lessons to be learned from recent programmes of cleaning (includes video from 1962)

Day 3

Lecture. Mechanical cleaning; hand-held abrasive blocks; systems based on compressed air and a range of abrasives with or without water; introduction to proprietary systems including the use of superheated water/steam; specification

Demonstration. Various cleaning methods

Summary/case studies/surface treatments

Discussion and questions

16.00 Course ends


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Please remember to bring work clothes/overalls and shoes/boots for practical sessions. A torch and umbrella may be useful on the short walk to the Auditorium and Ruinette.


David Odgers

BCM Course Leader

David is Director of Odgers Conservation Consultants who provide support, advice and training for clients, architects, surveyors, local authorities and others involved in the conservation of historic structures.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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