Archive for Monday, January 21, 2013


Fix-It Chick: How to tackle graffiti removal

January 21, 2013


Graffiti can be unsightly, offensive and annoying. Choosing the proper removal method will make the cleanup process a little less trying.

Step 1: If the graffiti is on a painted surface, start by cleaning the surface with a nonresidual cleaner, such as TSP. Once the area is clean and dry, paint over the graffiti with a stain-blocking primer and apply one or two coats of fresh paint to cover the problem area.

Step 2: If the graffiti is on glass, use a single-edge razor blade to scrape away the unwanted artwork.

Step 3: If the graffiti is on unpainted wood, try removing the offending paint by sanding the surface with 100 grit sandpaper. Reapply the original finish coat, as needed. If sanding does not work, using a chemical paint stripper is the next best option. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to test the chemical on a small area before treating the entire surface.

Step 4: If the graffiti is on brick or concrete, use a pressure washer to remove all traces of the problem. Start with the wide tip spray nozzle and work up to a smaller orifice nozzle if necessary. Spray the surface at an angle to avoid embedding the offending matter further into the substrate. Begin spraying at the top of the art work, holding the spray nozzle about two feet from the surface. Use a side to side motion over a small portion and gradually work down to the bottom of the area. Move the nozzle tip closer to the surface if additional pressure is needed. Be careful; too much pressure can damage the underlying surface.

Step 5: If pressure washing alone will not remove the graffiti, a chemical remover may be the answer. There are several biodegradable options available. Choose one that best suits the specific application. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, applying a small amount of cleaner to a soft rag and trying to wipe the graffiti up and off the surface.

Step 6: If the graffiti does not wipe away, apply the cleaner directly to the surface to be treated. Allow the remover to work 10 to 15 minutes. Use a stiff bristle brush or cloth and a warm water mixture of TSP to scrub the paint up and away. Avoid pressing the graffiti further into the surface by using a lifting motion while scrubbing. Apply additional cleaner as needed.

Linda Cottin can be reached at


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