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Graffiti Removal

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General Hints
Removal Methods
Graffiti on Different Surfaces

 

General Hints


The following are tips for removing graffiti from various types of surfaces.

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Removal Methods

There are four methods of removing graffiti. Choosing the most appropriate removal method will in turn save the property owner money and time.


Paint over
Chemical removal
Water-blasting
Sandblasting

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Paint over is the most widely used method

When painting over it is important for the property owner to paint the entire surface that has been tagged with a matching paint. It is important that the line of paint be clean and straight and the surrounding area be clean from any paint spills or drips. Following the proper painting techniques is necessary. For questions about proper painting techniques consult a local paint supplier or retailer.
Paint-over Pros Paint-over Cons
  • inexpensive
  • latex (breathable) paint will peel and weather over time
  • non-toxicity of the product
  • repeated paint-over prevent the surface from breathing
  • no electric or diesel tools required
  • clean-up and preparation time is tedious
  • location adaptability
 

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Chemical removers are a method to dissolve any unwanted graffiti

There are five types of graffiti removers:

  • solvents containing chlorinated hydrocarbons
  • solvents containing monoglycol ethers and glycol acetates
  • solvents containing diglycol ethers
  • solvents containing polar solvents
  • solvents containing miscellaneous solvents
 

These products are available in a many forms including creams, gels and liquids.

Remember: When using any chemical remover safety precautions should be maintained in accordance with the manufactures guidelines, always secure a material safety data sheet (MSDS). For further questions or concerns about chemical removers contact the manufacturer.

Chemical Removers Pros Chemical Remover Cons
  • fast and relatively low-labor removal
  • safety concerns- follow manufactures guidelines and obtain a MSDS
  • cost effective
  • require a saturation and dwell time
 
  • may need multiple application and agitation

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Water-blasting

There are three types of washers that may be used; pressure washers, power washers and jet washers. When deciding which washer to use there are some factors to consider:


  • Pressure rating- this is the intensity of the water stream.
  • General cleaning requires medium to high pressure (500-4000psi).
  • De-scaling or stripping concrete surfaces may require water pressure above 10,000psi.
  • When cleaning delicate masonry water pressure should not exceed 100 psi.

Considerations:

  • Water flow rate- refers to the supply of water to the sprayhead. The greatest efficiency is likely to be achieved with water flow rates of between 4-8gal/min.
  • Spray nozzle design- The nozzle design determines the shape of the spray. A fan type nozzle providing a spray fan angle of 15-50 degrees is considered best for graffiti removal and general surface cleaning.
  • Water temperature-Heated water is useful for graffiti removal from metal surfaces where expansion of the metal helps break the bond.
  • Chemical or abrasive additives introduced into the stream- When combining chemical removers with water it is important to ensure that the chemical is diluted with water.
  • When using a pressure washer it is necessary to follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines.
Water-blasting Pros Water-blasting Cons
  • allows large areas to be cleaned quickly
  • good drainage required
  • cost and labor effective
  • not suitable for most enclosed locations

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Sandblasting

 

This technique will remove graffiti. The result of sandblasting is a more attractive surface than painting over. However, when using sandblasting it is best to sandblast the entire surface, this prevents an outline left by the graffiti. Sandblasting is labor intensive, requiring much preparation and cleanup time.

When sandblasting the proper safety precautions should be taken.

Sandblasting Pros Sandblasting Cons
  • no chemical agents required
  • can only be used on non-painted surfaces
  • no unattractive paint-over
  • opens pores of surface allow for deterioration
 
  • clean-up is labor intensive

 

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Graffiti on Different Surfaces

Metal Surfaces
Wood Surfaces
Plastic Surfaces
Glass Surfaces
Masonry Surfaces

Metal Surfaces

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Wood Surfaces:

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Plastic Surfaces

 

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Glass Surfaces

 

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Masonry Surfaces

 

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Thanks to the cities of Las Cruces, NM; Burlington, VT; and Minneapolis, MN from whom we gathered this information.

Last Updated: 11/13/07

 

 


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