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  • David Leavitt

What Color is the Castle?

It seems like every day that Chelom and I are at the castle, there's a new discovery. Some of them are happy discoveries; others not so much. Still others are neither good nor bad discoveries--they just are.

For months, I've looked at the castle and seen a gray stone structure. A few days ago, as I was walking along the tower walkway that is accessed from John Templeton's bedroom, I noticed something I hadn't seen before: Red stone. Further examination revealed that the entire upper view rows of stone are not gray, but reddish. I was shocked to realize that if we wash the outside of the castle, that what we'll find is a castle that looks considerably different than what it looks like now.

Whether to scrub the exterior of the castle is a bit of a debate, it seems, among historical building folk. Some favor the older patina that the structure has earned through the centuries, while others view restoration as bringing the castle back to what it would have looked like when it was newer. Chelom and I fall in the camp of those who believe that a good scrubbing is a must every century or two. And so, as part of this process we'll gradually wash the castle off, in hopes of restoring its original look. We'll undertake the task of washing the castle a bit at a time in conjunction with when we have scaffolding set up on various parts of the castle. That will allow us to get to the higher elevations.

An important consideration is how to give the castle a good wash. Many modern chemicals will eat away the old stone, so you've got to be careful what you use as a solution to get the layers of history off the building. Another problem is that if you wash the castle with a high pressure washer, you'll eat away the stone. So the trick is to use low pressure with the mildest of detergents.

Chelom and I have hope we've discovered the perfect remedy. It's a system called the Doff Steam Cleaning System. It heats the water to a temperature of 150 degrees Celsius (300+ degrees Fahrenheit. The combination of low pressure and 300F water, and it renders old castles new again. We're really excited to start that process and to see what colors actually come out of the process.

The Youtube video below shows the process. Pretty amazing!

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Melissa Jenkins
Melissa Jenkins
Aug 23, 2023

I definitely think it needed a wash and so glad you decided to go through with it. It's going to be so beautiful when it's done. Lichen can destroy the stone over time, so it was way past due for a cleaning. You may even have to lay down a sealant on some of the stone that has been eaten away to protect it further. So glad I came across your story and can't wait to see your progress!


Aug 09, 2023

Dave - Love reading about your adventure. You might also try D/2 Biological Solution. It’s used to clean all sorts of stone and works wonders, long after you’ve finished scrubbing, to restore the stone to its original color. I’ve used it on headstones (there are many tutorials online) and was impressed. Keep the videos coming!


Jul 24, 2023

Definitely looks better cleaned up showing her true colors


Jul 16, 2023

How exiting! That cleaning apparatus is superb! Wow! Your Castle is going to look so polished!


Jun 14, 2023

Hello, would this stone cleaning not require Listed Building Consent? In any case, the danger would be that it makes the house look brand new and lose the patina of history. On the other hand,I note some bad stains where the down pipes have failed!

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