Graffiti is a growing problem all across the country affecting homes and businesses in urban and rural communities. If your home or business has been vandalized, the best thing to do is to arrange to have the graffiti removed immediately. Quick removal is the best way to discourage 'taggers' and prevent future vandalism. Also, the sooner graffiti is removed the easier it washes away; graffiti that has been allowed to set becomes less and less responsive to cleaning methods.
How Should I Have it Removed?
First, check with your local public authority, some cities provide professional graffiti abatement services to home and small business owners free of charge. If you aren't fortunate enough to live in a city with that service, consult a professional, experienced painting contractor. Painting contractors have the expertise, tools, and experience necessary to asses the situation and proceed accordingly.
Why do we recommend hiring a professional? Many graffiti removal efforts can leave surfaces in worse shape than they were before work began. Graffiti removal is an inherently tricky process: the goal is to destroy the top layer of paint either by abrasion or chemical removal while leaving the surface beneath it unscathed. The proper method of remediation varies depending on a variety of factors and inapropriate methods can have disastorous results. Graffiti removal products are valuable tools, but the effectivness and appropriateness of these products vary depending on the situation and the safety and ease of use of these products are often exagerated by the manufacturer. In worse case senarios these products can cause damage to the underlying substrate or surface, greatly increasing the cost of restoration.
If you do choose to try and remove the graffiti yourself using a chemical remover, make sure to follow the directions exactly, and if possible test the product on an inconspicuous area first. See our section on selecting a paint contractor for important considerations when hiring a contractor.
What are Graffiti Barriers and How do they Work?
There are several products known as barrier coatings that can be applied to painted surfaces to prevent graffiti from soaking through to the underlying substrate. Theoretically, these products increase the ease with which graffiti can be removed and add a layer of protection to the underlying surface. Barrier coatings come in two varieties: sacrificial, which must be reapplied after every wash, and non sacrificial waterborne polyurethanes which only need to be reapplied as infrequently as every five to ten yeasr, regardless of how many times they are subject to washing.
Gernarally speaking, we advise against the use of graffiti barriers for the following reasons: Graffiti barriers usually aren't any more cost effective than simply repainting the surface, and in fact can be a source of frustration if you ever do want to repaint the surface because they are designed to prevent new layers of paint from bonding to the surface. Also, graffiti barriers have a reputation of simply not working as advirtised. While they do help protect the underlying substrate, they don't always make graffiti removal easier which is frustrating to home and business owners who just shelled out an extra couple of bucks to have their surfaces covered in a graffiti barrier.
One of the only instances where I would recommend using a graffiti barrier is over surfaces that can't simply be repainted, such as masonry, murals, or artwork.