The following tips will help you as you remove graffiti from various types of surfaces. Additional information about removal and removal materials is available at the Graffiti Hurts website and paint manufacturers' websites. We also recommend that you talk to a graffiti removal contractor. We maintain a partial list of local resources for residents.
Before you get started, remember:
Prompt removal works best. If you don't remove it quickly, it will attract more tags.
Use the gentlest means of removal to avoid harming the surface.
Use non-toxic chemicals whenever possible, and exercise caution when using dangerous and toxic chemicals.
Wear gloves and protective eyewear when painting or using solvents.
Test the removal method and material on a small area to be sure that they will work without causing damage.
Hire a trained professional for valuable surfaces, historic buildings or unstable materials.
Most graffiti occurs on painted surfaces and is simple to eradicate. Keep a can of matching paint on hand to make it fast and easy to paint over the graffiti. Using another color calls attention to the fact that your property has been tagged and may encourage more graffiti.
Unpainted Non-porous Surfaces
On unpainted, non-absorbent surfaces such as glass and metal, removing spray paint, markers, crayon, shoe polish and similar graffiti is usually a simple task using a good graffiti remover, available at most hardware or paint stores. You may prefer to use a razor blade to remove paint from glass surfaces. This method is quick and effective, and is more environmentally friendly.
Unpainted Porous (raw masonry) Surfaces
Raw masonry surfaces are favorite targets for taggers. Removal by power washing or soda blasting is expensive and is not always 100% effective. If this describes your situation, consider:
Coating the surface with a clear anti-graffiti sealer. If you're targeted again, removal is easier.
Painting the surface. Once painted, any future tagging can be painted out with matching paint, just like any other painted surface.
Removing graffiti or stenciling from the sidewalk requires a two step-process. First you must apply a graffiti remover for concrete, which can be purchased at a hardware or paint store. Then you must pressure wash or soda blast the sidewalk in order to remove the graffiti. Painting the sidewalk is not recommended.
Untreated Canvas Awnings
Taggers also favor raw canvas awnings, common on many storefronts, because they are difficult to cleanup. Here are some ways to protect and abate them:
Have the awning installed so that it is not easily accessible.
Repaint the awning or repair the tagged area with as close a paint color match as possible.
Treat the awning with a graffiti-resistant sealer.
Replace the current awning with a graffiti-resistant awning.
Acid Etched or Scratched Glass
Use of corrosive acid and glass scratching devices is one of the more destructive forms of graffiti because the graffiti is difficult and costly to remove, and often requires that the glass or plastic be replaced. If you have a glass storefront or exterior and are the victim of this type of vandalism, we recommend installing an invisible film over the glass.
San Francisco Public Works
City Hall, Room 348
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102