Studies estimate that graffiti costs the U.S. economy over $12 billion per year in cleanup expenses. Graffiti is not just an eyesore, but also a sign of urban decay and social disorder. It can reduce property values, deter customers, and damage your business reputation.
As a commercial property manager in Atlanta, GA, you’ve probably had to deal with graffiti on your buildings. Removing graffiti is not an easy task. It requires specialized equipment, techniques, and expertise.
With that in mind, this guide explains how to remove graffiti from different surfaces. Read on to learn more.
Assess the Graffiti Damage
The first step is always to assess the extent of the damage. Start by identifying the material, such as brick, concrete, metal, or wood. Different materials call for different removal methods.
Closely inspect the area to determine if the spray paint has penetrated deep into porous materials like brick. Try scraping the surface lightly, probably with your fingernail, to gauge depth. You’ll need to document the exact size and location of tags spanning a wide area.
This will affect removal methods. For instance, graffiti located near windows or higher floors will require special equipment for access.
DIY removal methods may be sufficient for smaller tags. However, tags covering over 50 square feet will require exterior cleaning services. With the inspection completed, you can determine the best removal techniques for the graffiti.
How to Remove Graffiti from Brick Walls and Surfaces
The porous nature of bricks allows graffiti to soak in deeply. This makes removing spray paint from brick a challenge.
The gentlest method to go about this is power washing at 2500+ PSI. Adjust the pressure and aim the water at an angle to avoid digging into the brickwork. Keep the pressure lower for painted brick to prevent paint stripping.
Other options include chemical paint strippers specifically formulated for brick. You can also use baking soda blaster that won’t damage the brick surface.
However, sandblasting is the most effective removal method for heavy graffiti vandalism. It uses compressed air to blast abrasives onto the surface, lifting off several layers of paint quickly. Sandblasting can damage brick, hence why it should be left to a professional.
For previously sealed or newer brick, a citrus-based cleaner may be sufficient for graffiti removal without altering the surface. Avoid harsh chemicals or wire brushing that can leave permanent scarring on brick.
Tailor the method to the age and composition of the brick to restore its appearance after vandalizing spray paint.
Removing Spray Paint from Concrete Surfaces
Cleaning graffiti off concrete poses challenges because of its porous, absorbent nature. A power washer with a special concrete cleaning detergent is effective for light spray paint. Adjust the pressure between 500-1500 PSI and use a 15-45° nozzle to avoid damaging the concrete surface.
Let the detergent sit for 3-5 minutes before power washing.
An eco-friendly citrus-based cleaner specifically formulated for concrete can also break down paint chemicals. Use a stiff bristle brush and plenty of elbow grease to scrub then rinse thoroughly with a hose. Avoid DIY acidic cleaners which can dilute and erode concrete surfaces.
For heavy vandalism with layers of paint, an angle grinder quickly removes graffiti from concrete. Grind in 5-10-second intervals to avoid damaging the integrity of the concrete. This kicks up lots of dust so wear eye and respiratory protection. Clean up residue with a wet/dry vacuum.
Professionals also use dry ice blasting which removes paint through high-pressure frozen carbon dioxide. This efficiently cleans concrete without using any chemicals, water, or abrasives. Though a pricier option, it kills germs and completely restores the surface.
Eliminating Graffiti from Metal Surfaces
Metal is another surface that graffiti artists like to use because it provides a smooth and shiny finish. But metal is also sensitive and scratches easily. As such, removing vandalism from metal surfaces calls for a delicate touch.
The first option is using a spray-on solvent formulated for metal. You’ll need to test the product first. Simply apply it on a small spot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing with a brush. Avoid using abrasive scouring pads that may scratch the surface.
The most effective option for heavy graffiti is soda blasting, often performed by professionals. It shoots soda bicarbonate through compressed air, gently stripping paint from metal. Unlike sandblasting, it doesn’t damage or oxidize the metal surface.
Soda blasting also works great for removing spray paint from stone, concrete, and wood. The solution gets the job done without eroding porous surfaces. Moreover, it allows for more precision and is cost-effective.
Professional Graffiti Removal Is Your Best Bet
DIY methods often fall short when it comes to removing graffiti from commercial buildings. For instance, store-bought chemicals can cause a lot of damage if not diluted properly. Moreover, wire brushing or sanding seems affordable but can scar surfaces. Even power washing can cause damage if you use the wrong nozzle or pressure.
Professionals have access to specialized tools, training, and experience. Industrial-grade power washers, soda blasters, and dry ice blasters allow them to get the job done effectively. This makes them better equipped to remove tags without harming your property.
Years of graffiti removal experience inform their process. And while pricier than DIY, they offer more value in the long run. They work to eliminate ugly tags, restore the professional outlook of your property, and deliver superior results.
Restore Your Defaced Property With Pro Graffiti Removal
Graffiti can make your Atlanta commercial property look uncared for and neglected. But DIY removal can backfire and damage the surfaces. SunBrite is here to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Our team knows how to remove graffiti from your building and restore it to its former glory with rigorous cleaning. We examine the damage and use optimal cleaning methods to restore your building’s curb appeal. We also explore why hiring a professional graffiti removal service is the best option for your commercial property.
Don’t let vandals undermine your business. Feel free to reach out today to get a free quote for expert graffiti removal.
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