"What is the most important thing you learned on your first project?"
Matthew Stickler: I tell this story during my AIA presentations on cleaning every time. My first PROSOCO project was back in 2001, and it was a sandstone church in need of cleaning and protecting. It had a lot of carbon, mold, and other atmospheric staining on it. I was armed with my data pages, some samples, and a phone number of Wil Priver, who was my mentor back at the beginning.
I went out, followed the directions on the data page. Pre-wet the wall, applied the cleaner, agitated it, allowed it to dwell, and rinsed it down, just as the data page said to do.
The test area turned out GREAT! It worked exactly as it was supposed to: the carbon and other staining was gone, and the stone looked great. It almost looked like new stone. I was so excited, so I got the church care takers out to see it, they were happy with it, but wanted to get the approval of the church board.
A few days later, they all looked at it, and while they all agreed it was very clean, it did not meet their expectations about what they wanted it to look like. In a few of their minds, it was "too clean" and didn't show the history of the church. While they wanted it clean, they didn't want to remove all of the history of what the church had been through during its long life. Luckily, since our products are dilutable, we were able to dilute the product down to an acceptable level so that it cleaned the church closer to the level they wanted it to be.
So what was the lesson I learned? What I think is clean, and what you think is clean may be two totally different things. Our expectations or goals for cleaning may be very different, and therefore, even when, after all these years, I know what product to select, and what dilution to recommend, I ALWAYS tell people to TEST, to ensure not just that it works, but that it provides the look you are going for. I don't assume that our expectations are the same, and I work to meet the expectations of the customer.