Adobe Clay: How to Maintain it
Every year, the city of Santa Fé in New Mexico attracts more and more tourists due to its unique architecture centered on the use of adobe clay, giving the city its brownish charm. And only selected professional cleaning services know how to take care of it to keep it in top shape.
Adobe is a natural building material made from a mix of sand, clay, water and distinct types of organic material, different to each type, such as manure or straw.
In olden times, the material mixture would most commonly be left in the sun to dry. The use of the organic material, principally straw, could bind the brick together so that it would dry evenly preventing any defections.
It was used most commonly by the Native American tribes who gave Santa Fé its roots. They used it to construct large pueblos; very large homes in which hundreds could live, usually surrounding a large plaza.
The reason for its common usage was most probably for its economic practicality and durability. The greater thermal mass of the bricks, due to its thickness, means that they can withstand a lot more pressure and weight. This thermal capacity also means that a wall constructed from adobe could regulate temperature. It can absorb heat which means that depending on the thickness of the brick, it could take heat a long time to pass through the wall, even after the sun has gone down.
The capabilities of the brick however are let down on two fronts; their vulnerability to earthquakes and deterioration due to surface cracks. The clay texture allows the bricks to be moulded into any shape or size, meaning they are not completely solidified and therefore highly unstable. The weight and instability would lead to an adobe structure collapse after an earthquake.
Cleaning adobe and maintaining it is very difficult given the different types. While sun-drying was the old method, new forms of adobe include fired where they would be artificially dried or burnt, and attempts at creating a more stable form.
That’s why it’s important to have professionals take care of the job, and our Housekeepers Service in Santa Fe has the solution, as we train our staff to clean clay in a way that helps preserver it as good as new.
One common defect is that the cracks which are very porous to water. The uneven drying of an adobe brick causes cracks to form. On entering the cracks, water can slowly deteriorate the material, leading to the ultimate demise of a structure. Therefore, it is advised to use a water repellent, the type of which should be decided upon a thorough assessment of the problem.
In the case of Santa Fé, this damage has been slightly offset with the use of colonial-Spanish wood structures lining the insides of the buildings to provide more protection in case of disaster. Our maid and cleaning services in Santa Fé allow us to professionally assess any adobe problems ourselves and prevent any structural problems before they occur.