Although there are a handful of talented graffiti artists in the world, it seems like 99% of the time, graffiti is just plain vandalism. If your property falls prey to somebody’s “tag”, here’s what you should do.
Is it Permanent?
First of all, you should determine whether the graffiti was done with permanent markers or paint. Some graffiti mediums can simply be washed off with water or a pressure washer. If you’ve got a permanent “art piece” on your hands, you might need to try something a little stronger.
Different kinds of surfaces require different cleaning strategies. Here are the best ways to tackle vandalism, whether the affected surface is smooth or rough.
Graffiti removal is a little easier on smooth surfaces like metal and glass (street signs, windows, etc.). Test the area with a little bit of cleanser–if the paint begins to come off, you don’t need to purchase any harsher chemicals; elbow grease should be enough. Continue to scrub with cleaner (or just plain soap and water) until the vandalism has been removed.
Vandalism is especially difficult to remove from rough surfaces–unfortunately, that makes them a common target for graffiti. This is especially true with porous materials like bricks or cinder blocks. Even when the paint has been removed, an ugly blotch remains–clearly evidence of vandalism. In many cases the best (or even only) choice is to simply paint the entire wall.
Professional graffiti removal services can be expensive–before you rely on a cleaning team, it’s always worth trying a few D.I.Y. graffiti removal techniques. If you need to remove unsightly vandalism from your property, here are a few of the tools you’ll need:
For bigger or tougher jobs, there are also many commercial-grade graffiti removers available. Be sure to follow all recommended safety measures–most of them should only be used in well-ventilated areas, for instance. Industrial-grade cleansers are often so strong that you should wear a respirator, as opposed to a basic dust mask. Still, they’re very effective tools to remove graffiti, and they’re available at most hardware stores and even some larger, well-stocked grocery stores.
Other Potential Risks
Most industrial graffiti removers are very flammable. They require eye and respiratory protection, and should not be stored near gasoline or rags. Many of these products can cause serious injury, so make sure you have a first aid kit and a phone for any emergencies that may arise–it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Wire brushes are cheap and effective graffiti removal tools for a variety of outdoor surfaces. Although it leaves brush marks, it removes the tagger’s graffiti quickly. It’s ideal for use on sidewalks and curbs, telephone pools, wooden fences, and smooth stone or brick surfaces.
Strike While the Iron is Hot
If you find the vandalism before the paint is dry, you have a better chance of removing all of the paint, marker, or wheat-paste. Graffiti removal tips number 1. Graffiti gets progressively more difficult to remove as it dries.
You’ll Probably Need to Repaint
It’s a lot harder to remove graffiti than to put it up in the first place. When somebody vandalizes a painted surface, you’ll more than likely need to touch up the area with some matching paint.
Use Solvents on Steel & Other Metals
Solvents can damage wood, but it’s ideal for use on vandalized mailboxes, steel doors, utility boxes, and more. Simply apply a small amount of the solvent to the affected area, rubbing gently with steel wool. Be sure to wear gloves and protect your eyes.
Professionally Clean Red Bricks
Nobody wants to hear this news, but if your red brick wall has been vandalized, you should probably hire a professional cleaner to apply biodegradable emulsifying cleaners. It’s extremely difficult to clean brick on your own without damaging the brick.
Fences & Walls
If your painted fence get vandalized, your best option is to simply do an immediate cover-up of any vandalism. Keep plenty of matching paint if vandalism occurs frequently in your area.
Graffiti removal can be costly and time-consuming. It’s usually not as easy as “wiping it off”. However, a fast response is your most effective way to restore your wall, fence, or other property back to its original glory.
Even if you can’t remove the vandalism entirely, it’s important to minimize the appearance to the point where it’s nearly unrecognizable. Vandals will likely shy away from your property if they know their “masterpieces” will disappear within a few hours.
You spend a lot of time making your property look good: don’t let vandals ruin your property’s appearance. Best of luck in removing and preventing further graffiti!