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Stuart Dean Asks:  ‘Have You Tested the Metal of Your Hotel?’

Hospitality’s leading restoration and maintenance company suggests scheduled
preventive maintenance for removing scratches, eliminating wear and
tear damage, repairing finishes from misuse or vandalism and
restoring architectural metal to its original luster

New York — June 15, 2009 — Over the ages, the “metal” of a man – his spiritual, emotional or physical aptitude – has always been tested, but what about the architectural metal of a hotel? The Stuart Dean Co., headquartered here, reports that the deteriorating appearance of a hotel’s metal architectural elements – banisters, railings, doors, elevators, signage and ornamental treatments – can be a real turn-off to guests, giving hotels failing marks in its overall appearance and appeal. 

As part of its proclamation to make “2009 the Year of Preventive maintenance,” hospitality’s leading restoration and maintenance company remains devoted to the restoration and preservation of architectural metals, including: aluminum, bronze, copper, nickel, stainless steel and other non-ferrous metals. Properly selected, installed, and maintained, architectural metal elements are among the most durable and permanent building materials. However, metal elements that are not properly suited for the chosen function or are not properly cared for can be very fragile and short lived.

Before Stuart Dean Metal Refinishing

After Stuart Dean Metal Refinishing
“No hotel today can afford get a black eye in regard to its appearance – especially when their bruised façade comes by way of scratched, vandalized or misused metal elements,” said Greg Schall, Stuart Dean Director of Hospitality. “All architectural metal weathers or oxidizes -- a fancy way of saying it changes appearance: iron produces rust, copper produces copper oxides, like the Statue of Liberty and aluminum produces aluminum oxides which can eventually cause pitting. Equipped with that basic knowledge, there is no reason that a hotel should ever let its metal elements tarnish their way to oxidation. If metal is left unattended, it will deteriorate in appearance.“

Schall said that while the industry is looking for ways to cut costs due to the economy, ignoring preventive maintenance and routine treatment to metals is not a place to cut corners.

“Oftentimes our technicians hear hotel maintenance staff say: ‘I know I have to periodically clean this stuff (the metal appointments), but locking myself into fixed payments is too expensive. When I see that the metal needs to be cleaned, I’ll hire someone. This way, I save money by only spending the absolute minimum necessary. It seems to me these metal guys are always cleaning metal that already looks pretty good.’  Others have said: ‘“Every time I need some items done, I bid the job out. This way I always get the lowest price for every single item. When I tie myself up in a contract, I lose that economic leverage and end up spending way too much.’ Or, ‘I’ll do it when I need it, when I see that it looks bad.’

“There is a serious flaw in this thinking,” Schall said. “Waiting until the building looks poor prior to doing something risks alienating customers. In addition, waiting until something looks bad might end up costing far more than periodic regular maintenance. This is especially true for anodized aluminum whereby damage may be irreversible or any copper alloy, such as brass or bronze,  where neglect may cause dezinctification, also irreversible. .”

The Mechanics of Metal Maintenance

Stuart Dean stresses to all hoteliers that practicing preventive maintenance for architectural metals is a science in its own respect. It takes a trained professional to identify the right application method of refinishing for each type of metal. Methods include, lacquering or oil rubbed, non-directional or directionalfinishes, , oxidation, painting, patination, polishing, graining, removing scratches and more. 

“Bronze is relatively expensive to maintain and when left unprotected it oxidizes quickly, tarnishing to a blotchy brown color within weeks, if not days,” Schall explained. “Aluminum, which is the most common architectural metal in the United States, corrodes which can eventuall causes pitting on the surface and cannot be restored once it has pitting. Stainless steel, which is sometimes confused with aluminum, is more lustrous in appearance, but its name is deceiving. Stainless steel is not always stain-less: depending on the grade of metal it will rust. This is accelerated in wet-climate or highly polluted parts of the country. Where climate is controlled on the interior of a building, areas such as on the operating wall of an elevator, stainless steel will not rust, but it will gradually begin to show a greasy film and fingerprinting from frequent hand contact.

“All these things must be taken into consideration when maintaining metals,” he added. “While it may seem relatively simple, there are many variations to these metals to also to consider. Not being skilled in the right refinishing techniques for the right type metals may prove to be more costly in the end.”

Stuart Dean cites the following causes for metal deterioration:

  • Corrosion is the major cause of the deterioration of architectural metals. Often called oxidation, it is the chemical reaction of a metal with oxygen, pollutants or other substances.
  • Human abrasion is another form of deterioration. Abrasions on door handles and railings, for example, come from dirt and oil and minute amounts of acid from the hands that come in contact with the metal surface and cause superficial discoloration of the metal.
  • Copper alloys can be attacked by alkalis, ammonia and various sulfate compounds that can combine with water to form sulfuric acid. Excrement from birds or other animals is acidic and also damage copper alloys.
  • A kind of corrosion particular to brass or bronze with a composition of more than 15% zinc is dezincification. This occurs where acids and other strongly conducting solutions are present.
  • Although stainless steel was originally believed to be totally corrosion resistant it will 'corrode under certain conditions where the atmosphere is highly polluted. Corroded stainless steel may look like corroded aluminum.
  • Wet lime mortar, Portland cement, plaster and concrete will cause some surface corrosion of aluminum.
“Metal components in temperature-controlled environments corrode less rapidly than metals exposed to the natural environment,” Schall said. “Without a coating, a natural patina would form, causing slow color change (sometimes referred to as tarnishing) from gold to brown to black. On exteriors the colors are usually uneven and streaked because of the local pattern of wind and rain. The proper cleaning of copper alloys to return them to their natural color, are mild chemicals in conjunction with mild abrasives.”

Stuart Dean offers the following tips when providing routine daily maintenance for metals:

  • Metal cleaners and polishes are unnecessary. These products can actually damage the lacquer and cause premature breakdown of the protective coating. Ammonia-based cleaners (i.e. Windex) can also weaken the protective coating. 
  • Damp, soft cloths are usually all that is required to clean lacquered metal. Occasionally, a mild detergent (such as Ivory Liquid) can be used to remove stubborn dirt build up. Subsequently, all drying should also be accomplished with dry, soft cotton cloths. 
  • All cleaning motion must be done in the direction of the metal’s grain. Even on a mirrored surface like polished stainless steel, there is a fine grain to the metal. The wiping motion must be in a straight line. Avoid “swirling” or criss-cross motions that can damage the lacquer coating and impair the metal’s appearance. 
  • When using a window-washing company, suggest that they use mild detergents like Joy or Ivory to clean windows that are enclosed in lacquered metal or painted metal. Water run down on metal should be wiped off with a clean, soft cotton cloth. 
The only nationwide company of its kind, Stuart Dean is an approved vendor for: Hilton Hotel Corp.: Conrad Hotels / Hilton Hotel & Resorts / Doubletree / Embassy Suites, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotel Group, Loews Hotels, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Marriott Hotels & Resorts: JW Marriott / Renaissance Hotels / Marriott Courtyard, Peninsula Hotels, Ritz Carlton Hotel Co., Starwood Hotels & Resorts: Westin Hotels  / W Hotels / Sheraton, and Avendra. For more information, visit or call Greg Schall at 847-234-8955.

About The Stuart Dean Co.
Founded in 1932, Stuart Dean Company serves as the nation’s largest restoration and maintenance company, specializing in stone, metal, and wood surfaces.  Today the company provides preventive-maintenance services to the industry’s leading full-service and luxury hotel. For ongoing public-area preventative maintenance or renovation of guestroom bathrooms, Stuart Dean Company employees 550 expert technicians and project managers ready to serve. Headquartered in New York, the company’s owned and operated regional offices are located in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Nashville, New York, Norfolk, Richmond, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Toronto. For more information visit or call Greg Schall, Director of Hospitality, at 847-234-8955  or 800-322-3180.


Barb Worcester
Tel: (440) 930-5770

Greg Schall
Director, Hospitality 
Stuart Dean Company Co., Inc.
Tel: (847) 234-8955


Also See: Stuart Dean, GlasWeld Form Strategic Alliance to Bring Glass Restoration to Hospitality / April 2009
Stuart Dean Co. Debuts Sustainable, Self-Cleaning, UV-PCO Surface Solutions / February 2009
Stuart Dean Co. Proclaims 2009 “The Year for Preventive Maintenance” / February 2009

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