Graffiti removal

Has someone written their name on your property in spray paint without asking your permission? You better get that taken care of or people might think your property belongs to them!

There are two solutions for graffiti removal. One is to dissolve and clean the graffiti away, restoring the surface to its previous state. The other is to paint over it. Unfortunately, neither solution is as simple as it sounds. Taggers intentionally use forms of “graphic media” that are difficult to wash away. After all, If they used finger paint, the first rain would wash their work away along with their notoriety and supremacy in the hoodlum community. In addition to aerosol spray paint, taggers use wide-tip permanent markers, grease pens, paint pens, and even etching compounds. Whether cleaning or covering-up is your chosen plan for graffiti abatement, you have to know what you’re working with. It is essential to graffiti removal/abatement that you first attempt to identify what media was used for the tag (or “piece”).

It is always best to first attempt graffiti removal with milder chemicals and more rigorous mechanical methods. For example, graffiti can sometimes be removed from brick with zest of orange fluid and a nylon scrub pad. On less uniform surfaces, wirebrushing in combination with a mild detergent may do the trick. You should always try the simplest solutions that require less drastic approaches before resorting to the use of the big guns, the solvents.

There are many different solvents which can dissolve paint, ink, grease, and other “visual media tools”. Because many solvents dissolve only specific chemicals, if you can determine which solvent to use (and you’re lucky), you can simply wipe the graffiti away without discoloring the surface underneath. If you’re not lucky, you may damage your tools or harm the surface you’re working on. Start with the milder solvents and move up the ladder as necessary. Turpentine and mineral spirits are good, relatively mild solvents to start with (although mineral spirits will only dissolve fresh paint). VM & P Naphtha, isopropyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, lacqer thinner, acetone, and methylene chloride, as well as many other solvents may also work, but all have serious risks associated with their use. Be careful! Or better yet, just call the pros at Step Up Painting. As much as graffiti artists think they know about paint, we know more. . .

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