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United States Treasury Building

US Treasury Building RestorationDeclared a National Historic Landmark in 1972, the U.S. Treasury Building is among our nation's most significant monuments. A magnificent granite structure in the Greek Revival Style, it was constructed over a period of 33 years, between 1836 and 1869.


It is unique among granite structures. Each of its 30 columns is 36 feet tall and carved from a single block of granite. The many embellishments, including dentil moldings and cornices, adorning the building's upper stories tend to attract dirt and air-borne contaminants. The building's exterior was previously cleaned 12 years ago.


Contractor for this massive restoration project is The Atlantic Company of America, Inc., based in Washington, DC, with offices in Alexandria, VA. According to Atlantic Company's President and CEO David Suarez, 200,000 square feet of granite, including decorative detail, are undergoing restoration. The exterior restoration began in April, and is scheduled for completion in April 2000.


The exterior restoration incorporates cleaning, repointing and repatching. Original specs called for a masonry restoration product that proved too aggressive during sample testing, reported Suarez, who suggested testing a more benign and gentle product in its place.


"Granite is a dense material, less porous and more durable than many other masonry surfaces," commented Suarez, "but it is still vulnerable to the damage a product with a high hydrofluoric acid content or low pH value can do."


Suarez noted that acids provide short-term restoration results that are neither long lasting nor environmentally sound.


After sample testing several products, Suarez chose Safe n' Easy® Heavy Duty Masonry Restoration Cleaner, available from Dumond Chemicals, Inc. Unlike competitive products, Safe n' Easy® does not contain hydrofluoric or muriatic acids, bleach, abrasives or caustics, yet is capable of removing even the most stubborn dirt in one application.


Results were encouraging. "Safe n' Easy® is odorless, colorless, user-friendly and globeenvironmentally friendly," reported Suarez. "Even before diluting, the product has a pH level of 5.5, very close to neutral."


A Hudson sprayer is used to apply the Safe n' Easy®. After a dwell period of just three to five minutes, it is rinsed with fresh water. The 12-man Atlantic Company crew uses swing-stage scaffolding to access the stone.


Because this historic treasure has been so well maintained, the level of dirt and grime attached to the granite is not as severe as that seen in other masonry restorations, but it is present. "It's a subtle difference," commented Suarez, "but when compared, the sections that have been treated with Safe n' Easy® are noticeably cleaner than those awaiting restoration."


Suarez reported that the job is unique in several areas. "Because the building is in use every day, we're sequencing our work schedules. We're in close proximity to the White House, which means added security precautions. And, finally, the granite itself is magnificent. It's very rare to work with such massive slabs and blocks of granite."


In its 11th year, The Atlantic Company of America, Inc. has handled high-profile restoration projects including the U.S. Pension Building, (a.k.a. The National Building Museum), and the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Presently, the firm is performing the restoration of the Washington Monument, to be concluded in time for July 4th 2000 festivities.


Dumond's Safe n' Easy® product line is available in varying ready-to-use formulations. Safe n' Easy® Heavy Duty Masonry Restoration Cleaner will safely and efficiently clean a variety of contaminants from natural and man-made stone surfaces including terrazzo, travertine, brick, granite, limestone, terra cotta, concrete and unglazed and unpolished stone and ceramic brick.


This formulation will easily handle even the most stubborn carbon buildup and other atmospheric pollutants, chalking, efflorescence, mold and mildew without etching, pitting or damaging the surface.


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