graffiti removal methods

Best and Worst Graffiti Removal Methods

by Alfredo Mendoza, onGraffiti CoatingGraffiti RemovalPressure Washing , December 12, 2021

This blog post discusses graffiti removal methods. We'll talk about what works, why it works, and how you can do it in a safe and timely way!

We’ve all seen graffiti on the side of houses, bus stops, and even in our neighbourhoods. Graffiti is an issue that has to be dealt with quickly before it spreads too far. There are many graffiti removal methods available to us today; some work better than others. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the best graffiti removal methods for you to try out at home or around your neighbourhood!

Graffiti is regarded as vandalism in most cases, both by property owners, governments, and municipalities. It’s expensive and time-consuming to remove it, so we’ll look at the difficulties of removing graffiti in the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible way today.

It’s been said that the difference between graffiti and art is permission. That sums it up perfectly.

In certain situations, renowned graffiti artists are employed by cities and property owners to paint their masterpieces on carefully selected surfaces. However, the vast majority of graffiti is spray-painted illegally.


Typical Surfaces That Require Graffiti Removal

Graffiti removal maintenance technicians will encounter an almost infinite number of surface difficulties. The graffiti removal process should be tailored to the surface condition. Inappropriate graffiti removal methods can severely damage or discolour a substrate.

The most common substrates for graffiti are:

1) brick

2) concrete

3) cars

4) glass

5) stone

6) plastic

7) wood fence

8) metal

9) painted surfaces

10) cement


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A Quick History on Graffiti / Street Art

The term graffiti is derived from the Italian word graffiato, which means “scratched”.

Graffiti is a form of street art that can be traced back to ancient Rome and Greece, where citizens used charcoal and other materials to write or draw on the walls of their city. It was usually used to express criticism by members of the working class who were attempting to make ends meet in an unforgiving society. Pompeii, for example, has a slew of graffiti artists drawing lewd portrayals of high-ranking citizens performing indecent acts.

The first modern graffiti in North America recently blossomed. According to conventional thinking, the earliest recorded sighting of urban graffiti was in Philadelphia around the late 1950s and early 1960s, followed by New York City in the late 1960s.

Today, graffiti is very prominent in some cities around the world. Melbourne is a great example. Graffiti artists have turned it into an art form, and some pieces can be quite impressive. However, the vast majority of graffiti is considered vandalism and is illegal. Just in Melbourne, the cost to remove graffiti is around $50 million per year.


What is Graffiti? And Why Is It Illegal?

Graffiti can be defined as unauthorized markings made on public property including streets and sidewalks, buildings (interior or exterior), bridges, vehicles (moving or parked), and other forms of public transportation.

In most cases, graffiti is regarded as a form of vandalism in the eyes of both property owners and governments who have to clean up or remove it.

The cost for cities to remove graffiti annually can be well over $50 million dollars! This makes finding economical ways to get rid of these markings a high priority.

Nationally, the cost exceeds a staggering $1.5 billion annually.

In addition to the financial cost, graffiti’s other major harmful impacts include:

  • Creating the impression that crime is more widespread than it actually is.
  • Reducing money spent on more worthwhile causes for community development.
  • Graffiti is one of the most visible forms of crime and disorder that occurs in a community and as such can become a visible sign of unruliness, social decline and antisocial behaviour among young people.
  • Graffiti has a significant impact on whole communities, not just on the owner of the property targeted.
  • It has a potential impact on the long term viability of businesses and continuing investment of the private sector in heavily affected areas.
  • Graffiti is often linked (correctly or incorrectly) to other crime types and escalating levels of criminal behaviour as well as youth gangs.
  • The cost associated with cleaning graffiti from a property is considerable, be it the direct removal costs or indirect costs from insurance premiums and taxes (Matruglio 2008; Sutton, Cherney & White 2008).

When you look at how much graffiti removal is financially draining cities, counties, provinces, and homeowners around the world, it becomes obvious that there are continuing difficulties everywhere. “One man’s problem is another man’s opportunity,” as the old adage goes. Cities’ inability to eradicate graffiti has resulted in business opportunities for enterprising individuals wanting to cash in.


Best and Worst Methods of Graffiti Removal

Graffiti removal firms must lower their expenses as much as possible while still providing a high-quality service. If they can accomplish this, they’ll stay ahead of the competition and expand their company year after year. After all, there’s an army of artistically gifted (or not) youngsters with a never-ending supply of spray paint cans at their disposal.

A variety of methods are used to remove graffiti, ranging from cities, governments, and property owners. Some are more successful than others, and some are more expensive than others. However, in recent years, there has been a focus on cleaning in an ecologically aware manner, which we will discuss later during the best technique to eliminate graffiti.

Chemical Removal

Chemical removal is no longer popular owing to its environmental effects. These chemicals can also harm some of the surfaces being cleaned. However, it’s mainly because of employee safety that chemical removal is slowly “on the outs.” Even if the maintenance worker uses suitable gloves, masks, eyewear, and coveralls, they’re exposed to hazardous gases.

Nevertheless, chemical removers have evolved as well and there are some environmentally friendly solutions out there. Make sure to ask the company what sort of chemicals they use. Furthermore, make sure the company is fully insured and is covered with liability in case the chemicals damage the surface.

Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is a popular technique of removing graffiti, but it isn’t the best option. A significant amount of water is lost down the drain, and it doesn’t work on paints that are difficult to remove. It’s still a method utilised by graffiti removal experts, depending on the surface application and job location.

Make sure the company hired uses new pressure washing machines that reduce weist. Usually, qualified graffiti removal technicians will combine chemical removal with pressure washing to get the return the surfaces to their original glory.

Painting Over

Although painting over the surface is usually recommended, there are a variety of other methods that may be employed depending on the type of graffiti and the budget of the persons charged with removing it. Painting over may appear to be the most cost-effective solution at first view; however, over time… not so much.

If you decide to go with paint, perhaps is worth investing in an anti-graffiti coating. This type of paint will help and drastically reduce the cost of future graffiti removal.

Painting a house’s exteriors is a lot more difficult and expensive than painting interiors. Because the new covering coat of paint is generally outside, and comprehensive preparation (sanding, for example) isn’t usually possible, it starts to peel, bubble, and fade rapidly. What’s left is a genuine catastrophe that’s almost as bad as the original graffiti.

The procedure begins again, but it’s not as simple this time. With all of this in mind, painting isn’t the greatest solution for removal, but because it can succeed in isolated situations, we can’t call it the worst option.

Old Fashioned Elbow Grease

To completely remove spray-paint graffiti, we need to simply roll up our sleeves and use a non-toxic detergent soap. The only reason we include this approach is because it may perhaps work on a small range of surfaces.

Dry Ice Blasting

We’re getting somewhere now. Dry ice blasting has been a popular choice in the business for some time. It may be used on numerous surfaces and is especially useful when you want to guarantee no harm is done to the substrate.

We’ll use dry ice blasting to remove rust, corrosion, and paint from metal surfaces. The process involves “blasting” a surface with a mix of compressed air and C02 pellets (or particles). The thermal shock (as a result of rapid freezing) causes the undesirable paint to become brittle.

Spraying with a High-Pressure Sprayer is similar to using an acid etch, however, it has the advantage of being far more versatile. CO2 sublimation and the actual impact of CO2 particles on the surface produce a very powerful way to remove graffiti.

The most common way to clear dry ice is by blasting it away with a CO2 laser, but because of the expense of CO2 media, it isn’t always the greatest option. “Wet ice blasting” is the best method to remove graffiti.

Although this technique sounds great, it can be costly. It requires a high level of expertise and is very regulated in Australia. If the job is for a large corporation, this may be the best option, but definitely is not affordable for all pockets.


You may also be interested in: Ten Tips for Choosing the Best Graffiti Removal Company in Melbourne. 


The Future of Graffiti Removal

There are many new methods being developed for graffiti removal. These techniques often combine two or more of the methods we’ve already discussed.

As expenses continue to rise while attempting to eliminate graffiti and environmental limits increase, there will be a greater emphasis on finding innovative methods to remove graffiti from bus stops, tunnels, roads, walls, and statues that are faster, safer, and more cost-effective.

Perhaps the solution will be found in preventative measures such as a coating, but until better methods are discovered, wet ice blasting must be regarded as the best method for removing graffiti.

One such method is a cryogenic process that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove graffiti from a surface. The technique has been used in Europe for some time now with great success, but it’s slowly making its way to the US and Australia.

Another new technique is called “fog blasting,” which uses an ultra-fine aerosol spray (like you would see coming from a bug-spray can) but instead of killing insects, it freezes graffiti off surfaces! This technology has been used in Japan for years with amazing results; however, like dry ice blasting, it’s very costly.

Whatever the future of graffiti removal is, we know one thing for certain: spray paint will always be a problem and somebody will have to deal with it!

In conclusion… The best graffiti removal methods are those that can work on a wide range of surfaces. Painting over affected areas isn’t ideal because it doesn’t always work and can be very costly. Dry ice blasting is a great option for many surfaces and is non-toxic. High-pressure spraying with CO² is another good method but can be costly. Cryogenic freezing and fog blasting are two new methods that show promise but are currently quite expensive. Whatever the future of graffiti removal holds, we know we can handle any job with our high-quality and experienced services.


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