Archive for the ‘cleaning marquees’ Category

How often should you clean a marquee?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

The obvious answer is whenever it needs it so maybe a better question would be how often should you expect to clean a marquee.

A marquee is far more likely to get dirty when being erected/dismantled rather than when it is actually up. If you’re careful when erecting and especially when dismantling the marquee then you can usually get away with a thorough clean only once or twice a season.

There are however a few exceptions:

The dirtiest marquee I have ever had was one that was erected under some trees. When it rained all of the dust and grime was washed off the leaves down on to our lovely marquee. If you’ve got to put a marquee up under trees expect to clean it immediately afterwards.

Rain-skirts by their very nature will always get muddy in the rain, these should be given a wipe over on pretty much every job.

Traffic-film – eventually PVC can have a grey layer build up which is especially difficult to remove. It takes a long time for this to happen (a year or two normally) but at this stage it needs a thorough clean using a chemical. The material also needs irritating (gone over with a brush or similar) to get this off. Once thoroughly cleaned the PVC should be as good as new.

Tree sap is a nightmare to remove.

There are also some things that will never come out:

Petrol/Diesel can stain PVC. This will never come out so avoid them at all costs.

Ingrained mould – this affects many marquees especially those that are stored when still wet. PVC is made of many layers, if a marquee is put away wet or if cheap PVC is used then water can get inside the layers and create mould which will never come out. Incidentally this is one of the reasons we use better quality 500gsm PVC than available elsewhere, it takes far longer for the layers to break down in better quality PVC.

Some garden chemicals can stain – I was shown a marquee recently that had green stains around the rain skirt which seemed to have come from a chemical added to the lawn.

Better quality PVC always helps, we use a lacquer coated PVC as it is easier to clean and lasts longer than the cheap alternatives.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How often do marquees need cleaning

Monday, April 7th, 2014

It depends on the frequency a marquee is used, the environment it is erected in, the material in question and the weather conditions but in general marquee hire companies will lightly clean a marquee nearly every time it goes up but do a thorough ingrained clean maybe twice a year.

By lightly clean I mean wipe down any marks or mud that may have splattered on to the sides, this can be done when the marquee is erected on site. By ingrained clean I mean using a power washer, a floor scrubber or brush and strong marquee cleaner product. Or getting a professional marquee cleaning company in. Ingrained cleaning removes the grey film that builds up on marquees over time.

There are three categories of dirt on a marquee:

  • mud splatters or other marks on the covers. These can be removed by light cleaning
  • grey film that builds up over time, to be removed by an ingrain clean
  • dirt and residue from trees. If it rains when your marquee is under a tree a lot of dirt gets washed off leaves on to your marquee, there may even be some sap on there too. The dirtiest marquee I ever saw was one erected under a tree. These need ingrain cleaning immediately as they won’t be good enough to hire out and leaving sap on PVC would not be good.

Different marquee materials, different cleaning methods:

  • Canvas cannot be cleaned without removing it’s FR coating
  • PVC can be cleaned as above, good quality PVC (like ours) will have a laminate coating to make it easier to clean.
  • Clear PVC (window panels) must be cleaned very carefully so the clear material isn’t scratched.
  • Poly/PVC you have to be careful as the PVC coating is a single layer than can be scratched off with aggressive cleaning.
  • PE material can be cleaned similar to PVC though doesn’t have a laminate coating so will not come back as new.

The most important point of all – never put your marquee away when wet. A wet stored marquee will create mildew (PVC & PE) or may rot (canvas & the stitching in any stitched marquee).

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Marquee linings tip

Monday, June 11th, 2012

This is something we learnt over the years.

It’s very difficult keeping marquee linings clean, especially when you’re flat out and they’re going up and down every weekend. To start with we used a commercial cleaning company who turned round the linings within 2 days, the only problem with that is the linings came back crinkled, we’d often get comments from customers that they needed an iron -we even hired a steamer for one particular wedding as the wrinkled linings were so bad.

Most linings fit into a domestic washing machine -all of our DIY Marquees are designed that way intentionally. Pleated linings up to 9mx3m can fit but you need a commercial washing machine for 12m and 15m.

So here’s my recommendation -wash the marquee linings at home in your domestic washing machine but only do it just before putting your marquee up the next time it’s out. Don’t put the linings in a dryer, put them up damp:

  • The linings dry very quickly
  • The linings dry in place, so no creases
  • You avoid having to use dryers – our biggest cause of small tears and damage
  • Make sure your hands are clean, damp linings will pick up any dirt (we used to keep a pack of baby wipes in the van for this)

If your linings are really bad (if they’ve been stored damp for a long time for example) and have mould on then simple washing won’t get it out, it needs something more drastic. Spraying a small amount of bleach will usually get rid of patches, if the area affected is large you actually have to soak the linings in bleach, just make sure you wash them thoroughly afterwards and don’t leave them soaking for too long as it damages the velcro etc.

I hope that’s helped some people out there, thanks for reading.

Spencer

Good marquee discussions over on the forum

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I have mentioned the marquee forum several times before but it is a very good source of information. I certainly learn a lot from people on there so here are some useful threads to read:

Electric heaters..any good? Personally I don’t think they are very good (which is why we don’t sell them) but I have to respect the fact that there are people in the industry who do use them.

Drilling in to tarmac A thread that educated me, I always thought drilling in to tarmac is fine but in some circumstances it’s not a good idea.

Mould in pvc A must read, this discusses how to get out marks in PVC as well as explaining why you shouldn’t fold walls/windows repeatedly using the same fold lines.

Worse than a gym membership A warning against advertising with one of the marquee directories

There’s also a lot of other useful information on there and as it’s the only dedicated marquee forum around (to my knowledge) it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

New Marquee Cleaner

Monday, May 9th, 2011

No blog for a couple of weeks due to the bank holidays. Poor health was also a factor – can someone older and wiser than me let me know if a family of 4 can ever be completely illness free? You just seem to take turns. Anyway, back to marquees.

Cleaning marquees is a regular thing (or at least it should be!). It might only be a quick wipe on site or a full on scrub down in the yard as part of general maintenance. You need a decent cleaner to use.

We always used a generic Traffic Film Remover (TFR). It’s like concentrated washing up liquid that you water down in a spray or power washer.

UnoChem now produce a specific marquee cleaner which might be worth a try. I haven’t used it myself, I don’t know if it produces heaven in a jay cloth or adds nothing to your elbow grease. But it’s aimed at marquee people. We are marquee people. I thought it might be worth a try.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee linings – keeping them clean

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Realistically in the marquee hire industry there are some things you can get away with and some things you can’t. For example, if you haven’t had chance to clean a dirty marquee roof you can generally get away with it if you hide it with a lining. What you can’t get away with is a dirty lining, this is the bit that transforms the marquee and needs to be clean.

These are the common causes for a dirty lining:

Dirty hands putting them up: You’ve just knocked in dirty stakes or lots of rusty nails before you have to put the lining up. Solution: Have disposable gloves or a pack of baby wipes in the car.

Dirt dripping down from the roof: Condensation forms in marquees, especially in ones without flooring or ones with breathable flooring (regular readers will know my hatred of that..). If the poles are dirty then that dirt will drip down on to your lovely linings. Solution: Keep muddy groundbars as groundbars and keep the cleanest poles for the roof sections.

Dirt from the ground: Linings can pick up dirt when they’re taken down and dropped on the ground or if there’s no flooring dirt can splash up on to curtain linings. Solution: Gather the linings in to a protective bag as they’re being taken down, avoid letting them drape on the floor if at all possible.

Dirt from transport: leaving linings lying around un-bagged means they can get dirty or damaged in transit. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of completing a really nice marquee only to look up and see a size 10 footprint in the middle of a roof lining.. Solution: Store marquee linings in protective bags whenever possible.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

Customers decorating your marquees

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

In the marquee hire trade it’s to be expected that sometimes people will want to decorate their marquees. The results can be stunning so there’s no problem there, the problems arrive when they’re not taken away properly afterwards.

The sort of things you come across are:

  • Bits of tape. If left on your metalwork or worse -your roofs and walls they can become a problem. The stickiness doesn’t go away so picks up dirt and ages your marquee prematurely. If there’s tape on your marquee take it off asap.
  • Glitter. This gets everywhere but is actually quite easy to clean off with soapy water.
  • Staples. If people have stapled things to your linings (trust me this happens regularly) then take them out straight away. If a lining goes through the wash with a staple in then you get rust marks and they’re very very tough to get out.

We had a note in our terms and conditions about using tape and staples in the marquees. Did it make a difference? Nope. Did we charge for the work of removing said tape and staples? Nope. It’s just one of those things.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Marquee hire businesses during the winter

Monday, October 12th, 2009

It doesn’t matter how big a company you are winter months for a marquee hire business are going to be quieter than the summer. A fool could tell you that. In fact a fool is telling you that!

Business will have gradually slowed down in October and November will be very quiet. It depends on your market whether you’re busy at Christmas (corporate events, parties and New Years Eve bashes). January and February will be quiet (though a very busy time meeting people if you specialise in weddings).  March and April will be like October, not really busy but enough work to get you by and warm up for the summer.

So during the winter quiet months you need to think what you’re going to do. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Take up skiing. Holidays during the summer are difficult, learn to enjoy winter holidays 🙂
  • Maintain your stock, clean what needs cleaning, repair any holes etc you’ve been putting off when you just didn’t have the time.
  • PAT test all your electrical equipment. Unless you fancy going on a one day course this will mean getting an electrician in.
  • Make any new stock you want for next season that it’s feasible to make. Seat pads are a good, easy one to do. Even building your own tables is possible.
  • Make any new carry boxes or containers you may want next year, make racking or whatever’s likely to be needed in your storage facilities.

While you’re coming up with ideas of what to do in preparation for next year you should also plan what stock you’re likely to need. With VAT going up in the New Year any purchases you make (even if you don’t have it delivered until next year) will be at a 2.5% discount. If you’ve got the cash flow available it’s worth getting organised quickly.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

When things go wrong running a marquee hire business

Monday, May 4th, 2009

First off don’t worry. It’s incredibly rare to have any problem and even then they’re generally minor things.

If you’re starting up a marquee hire business you’re probably worrying about:

  • The marquees blowing away – make sure they’re always well anchored down. We never had this happen to us and I don’t know any hire business this has happened to.
  • Not being paid for the job. If you take a small deposit but then have the balance payable when the marquees up but before it’s used then you never have any bad debts (don’t allow any exceptions). It’s easy getting payment when you can still take the marquee down, if you leave it until after the event you have no leverage.

Realistically the only problem we really encountered (and to be honest it did happen a couple of times a year) is the customer complaining that the marquee roofs are dirty. If you put a marquee up under a tree when it rains all the dirt drips down off the leaves on to your marquee, this is the main cause of dirt building up. If it’s in your busiest time of year and it’s going straight back up you just don’t get time to clean it.
The solution? We’d give the customer a roof lining for free.This covered the dirty roof and the customer’s also happy because they’re getting a higher spec marquee than they’re paying for.

I was always reluctant to knock money off to solve any problem, you end up haggling and compromising so neither of you are happy and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Are people going to recommend you afterwards?

At the end of the day a happy customer has always got to be your goal, you need to do whatever you need (within reason) to make sure every customer is happy. You’d be amazed, some of our best recommendations came from people who’d originally complained but we’d sorted it out for them.

I’m a firm believer that you see the true side of a business (and a person) when things go wrong, make sure you react well and your reputation will only benefit from it.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How to clean a marquee

Monday, December 15th, 2008

With most parts of the country suffering ‘a bit of rain’ recently cleaning your marquees suddenly shoots up your to-do list. And rightly so, storing your marquees away when wet ages them very quickly, especially windows.

Firstly, there are two types of dirt you get on marquees

  1. There’s dirt that gets splashed on: Mud splattered on the sides,food thrown against the walls and leaves blown down on to the roof are all like this. This kind of dirt is relatively easy to wash off.
  2. A grey film builds up on to marquee covers over time. This makes the marquee look old and ‘tired’ and is a bit harder to clean off.

For splashed on mud you need to get hold of a power washer and a big tub of traffic film remover (TFR – basically concentrated washing up liquid, available from auto factors and used for cleaning lorry sides). Steam cleaners make life a bit easier compared to power washers but they’re a lot more expensive and a lot more problematic (I speak from experience).

So just power wash the dirt off using diluted TFR. For stubborn marks pour some undiluted TFR on and leave it for 5/10mins, then wash off.

Easy huh? Remember to always take a small tub of TFR in a plant spray with a cloth or sponge to every job just in case you tread on a wall or something when putting it up (it also looks good to the customer to see you ensuring their marquee is clean for them).

Then we come on to the grey film that builds up (a lot of people think this is just the material aging like canvas but it’s not and can be cleaned off to look like near-new).

To clean this off you need to spray the TFR quite strongly over the area and leave it for 5 mins. When you come back you need to ‘irritate’ the grey film to lift it off the surface for which you need a stiff brush or broom. If you’ve got a lot to do we used to use an electric floor cleaner (like you see cleaning supermarkets etc). Once you’ve gone over the whole area just wash it all off with your power washer and hey presto -back to (nearly) new!

There are a couple of exceptions to this second part.

  • window material shows scratches so don’t go over any transparent section with a brush or floor cleaner, just wipe it as thoroughly as possible by hand.
  • if your marquee uses ‘pvc backed’ material rather than ‘pvc laminate’ (which is what we use) then only use the brush/floor cleaner on the non-pvc backed side. PVC backing as a product is fine but if you start attacking it with a brush or floor cleaner it might start to flake away. That would be bad.

Basically the better you look after your equipment the longer it will be before you come back to us for replacements so the more money you make. It’s also offering your customers a better service, which is never a bad thing.

Thanks for reading

Spencer