How to Remove or Cover Unwanted Graffiti

White paint to remove graffiti

Graffiti can show up anywhere, from schools and parks to the side of your home. Even if you live in a "good" neighborhood, you're not guaranteed a spray-paint free environment. Once you see it, your first thoughts move toward how to get rid of it. Here's what you need to know when you want to remove or cover graffiti.

Is It Your Job?

First, determine if this task is yours to do. For homeowners, graffiti removal may be a service provided by your local government or association. You may also want to check with local law enforcement before attempting to remove or cover graffiti as they may be interested in photographing or otherwise documenting the vandalism.

Before You Get Started

What you need to clean graffiti from glass will be very different from concrete, vinyl siding, or brick. There are a variety of solvents and graffiti removers available at the hardware store; Select the correct product to match the surface.

When working with graffiti cleaners, pay attention to the surrounding area and current weather conditions. Grass, flowers, and other landscaping can be damaged by harsh chemicals and windy conditions can create a hazardous situation. Be sure to use proper eye protection and a mask, and cover the ground with a tarp or trash bags. Always test a small area first to make sure you're not about to make the problem worse with solvents or tools.

Tips for Cleaning Graffiti

Smooth Surfaces

For smooth surfaces like glass, start with a soap and warm water solution. In many cases, the latex paint can be soaked and then scraped away so there's no need for harsh chemicals. For metal surfaces, a small amount of solvent and steel wool usually get the job done. Start scrubbing gently at first to make sure you're not scratching the surface. Painted metal surfaces may be the most difficult to remove as solvents may cause the original paint job to bubble and crack.

Porous & Rough Surfaces

Unpainted brick, cinder block, wood, and other porous surfaces can be the most difficult to clean as the paint tends to "soak in" making it nearly impossible to scrub off. Start by using a solvent appropriate for the surface and scrubbing with a wire brush. Check the surface frequently to make sure you're not damaging the surface. Power washers can also be handy for these surfaces.

When It's Time to Repaint

When to repaint when there's graffiti In some cases, removing graffiti becomes impossible either because the paint will not lift or your removal efforts will damage the surface too greatly. In those cases, painting--or repainting--may be in order. Getting an exact color match may be difficult so try to keep extra paint for your exterior surfaces. Otherwise, you may end up having to repaint an entire surface just to cover a small area of graffiti.

If you're not sure whether a primer is necessary or how to paint a particular area, we can help! Our professional painters are located across the US, and we can help you determine what you need to cover graffiti, or get the job done for you quickly and easily.

What About Reverse Graffiti?

Reverse graffiti is the process of strategically "cleaning" a dirty or otherwise ruined surface to create something beautiful or useful. Think about using a finger to inscribe "wash me" on the back of a dirty truck. Some businesses use it as a creative way to advertise, while others use it as a way to counter unpleasant graffiti. Removing this type of graffiti usually involves simply cleaning the remainder of the surface.

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