Welcome 2021! You may be hopeful that everything bad in the world was left in 2020, which I hope for too, but we’ve already seen graffiti appear in 2021. However, after reading this blog you might not see graffiti on your building as such a stressful thing to deal with this year. Knowing about graffiti, options for removing it, and what many people commonly ask us are all good things to know, so if you ever get hit with graffiti you’re not having to make decisions on something you have never before thought about.
Some of the frequently asked questions (FAQ’s), are obvious, but some you might not have thought about until you’re looking at graffiti on your property. For example, how much is this going to cost me? Can I clean this myself? Will I need a pressure washer? Can graffiti on a painted surface really be removed? Is graffiti removal safe for the environment? Who did this and what are the police doing about it? Is this my responsibility or the city’s? Shouldn’t I just leave it alone now that it’s a graffiti hot spot? What is the most affordable way to combat graffiti? How do I prevent this from happening again?
Let me break each question down for you.
Q - How much is this going to cost me?
A - This depends on a few variables. The first 2 that play the biggest role in creating a quote for a removal is how big the tag is and what surface it is on.
Typically a removal will cost $150 and up. A tag which measures 2 x 3 feet can be priced between $150 and up to $250+, which is a huge difference, but if the tag is 30 minutes out of town, then assume travel time will be added into the quote one way or another. If the surface with graffiti is far away from where a vehicle can get to, then extra staff might be needed and extra fees might apply.
Surface type plays a huge factor because a clean and flat black wall can easily painted over. The black paint is probably a stock colour for the removal company too, so product costs and colour matching time isn’t an issue, but if it’s on a large sun faded wall with a unique colour, then there’s going to be a lot more time required to match and paint and do a great job.
If the graffiti is on a bare metal surface it won’t require machinery, so it will normally be less than if it were on a split-faced concrete block wall, which does require water and a pressure washer.
High levels (above what you can reach) cost more too because once again time is an issue. A technician can worm much quicker if they don’t have to climb a ladder each time they want to move 2 feet over.
Graffiti on top of graffiti also increases prices because removing graffiti is done in layers. The thicker the paint, the more time it can take for products to cut down to the bare surface. This is another reason why it’s important to keep your building clean right after it’s been hit with graffiti. People generally don’t save money by doing all of their removals at one time of the year. You also now have a building with graffiti on it and it can become a major eyesore.
With all of these variables you might be able to guess at what that 2 x 3 foot tag is going to cost you, but the above mentioned pricing is a good starting point. Also note that if the tag is 4 x 6 feet, it isn’t generally double the price because like most trades, a minimum call out fee is applied and then the price grows slower thereafter.
Q - Can I clean this myself? Will I need a pressure washer?
A - Yes you can, but don’t take a guess at what you’re doing. Learn how to remove graffiti properly or it could make the job for the graffiti removal technician/company more difficult, which could then make it more expensive. Learning how to do it properly starts with the right products and watching our instructional videos. Don’t use the cheapest products, use the ones the pros use. It might cost you a bit more, but cheapness has a way of showing itself.
If you happen to have graffiti on a masonry surface (anything made with cement like bricks or concrete), or asphalt, or any surface similar to these surfaces, then you will need a pressure washer and our Graffiti Syrup. It doesn’t have to be a hot water pressure, but hot water works much quicker than cold water does (the same as when you wash clothes or dishes). Pressure (more-so gallons per minute) is also a factor in how quickly a job can be completed.
If the surface isn’t masonry and is fairly smooth, you can definitely do it yourself. Our Vamoose and Beaver Bite graffiti removal products can be used with only a scouring pad and clean rag to give you professional results.
Q - Can graffiti on a painted surface be removed?
A - This depends on what the original surface is. If it’s a factory painted metal surface (usually an oil or epoxy type of paint) then it is usually strong enough to not break down as quickly as the graffiti paint, so it can be removed from. If it’s a latex paint that was used on the surface, then you’ll most likely need to prime and repaint the surface. Latex paint is soft and liquifies quicker than graffiti paint does, so you will end up making a mixture of the graffiti paint colour and the wall colour. If this happens you can wipe it clean and let it dry, like paint would, before you start priming and painting.
Q - Is graffiti removal safe for the environment?
A - It is if you’re using our products. One of the reasons we started our company was because many products on the market were designed before environmental standards were raised as an issue. There are many chemicals that can strip paint, but if you’re the one using them, have pets that sniff the area, or don’t want to kill plants in order to remove the graffiti, then you probably want to research what you’re spraying on your graffiti. All of our products are biodegradable and 2 of our products area at pH7. Safety and long exposure by technicians is something we take serious and recommend you do to. Regardlesss of how safe a product is, make sure to protect yourself. Getting something as natural as dirt or salt in your mouth or eyes can still have consequences, so don’t take safety lightly even with products that are safe for the environment.
Q - Who did this and what are the police doing about it?
A - The first part of this question can have a long answer, so I’m going to recommend checking out or blog from Dec 2019: Graffiti Psychology - “Why do they do that?” This digs a bit deeper into who is doing it.
As for the second part this question (what are the police doing about graffiti?), to simplify it: they aren’t doing as much as you’d want them to. Charging someone with graffiti takes a lot of time with a very small consequence. Police tend to prioritize cases that involve physical danger, which graffiti doesn’t directly create. It also happens to be done by people who are knowingly trying to avoid being seen, so unless there’s a sting operation going on or a tagger happens to be seen in the act by police, it’s going to be hard to create a case that holds enough weight for the courts to be able to do anything about it.
This isn’t to say taggers don’t get charged, but to take the same amount of time that a police person could be putting into stopping people speeding (which also generates a much higher volume of fines/revenue), or stopping abuse, or anything else really is going take priority. Catching taggers also takes a lot of time to build a case, so it can be placed on the back burner until the tagger moves out of town or quits doing graffiti.
Q - Is removing the graffiti my responsibility or the city’s?
A - It’s probably yours, but your city might help you out if you contact them. This is usually more common for residences than commercial buildings. Each city will, or should, have a plan to deal with graffiti, so contact them to find out what they offer. What we most commonly see is that a city will assist with the cost of paint to paint over the graffiti. This can be a huge help, so take advantage of it if you fit the requirements.
Also take note of where the graffiti is. If you have a city electrical box, or light pole on your property that has graffiti on it, contact them and report it to them. They will often come out and clean it even though it’s on your property. This is even more likely to happen if you see more graffiti in the area and report it all. They’ll be in the area doing removals, so they might do a few removals that technically aren’t their responsibility. If it’s on your back fence be prepared for them to say no, or do a square paint over job. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to ask them, but don’t assume they’re going to help you out because you’re a victim in their city. This is an unfortunate reality. Know that it can be fixed and repeat tagging on private residences is very uncommon and waiting or leaving it alone is the worst option.
Q - Shouldn’t I just leave it alone now that it’s a graffiti hot spot?
A - Your building is NOT a hot spot until you let it become a hot spot. Removing graffiti on a building and having a zero tolerance for it is the best way to deal with graffiti and to prevent it from happening again. Please read that last sentence again. Leaving it on your building and believing it’s going to grow anyways is only creating that story.
Q - What is the most affordable way to combat graffiti?
A - Just like the last question, remove it ASAP. If your local graffiti removal company has a Graffiti Protection Plan available, ask them for a quote on their program. Either removing it quickly and/or going on a program is the best way to keep your annual graffiti removal costs low. Our Graffiti Shield Program was designed to keep costs down for our customers while providing them a fixed expense for managing graffiti. This is by far the best option for any commercial building in our area (and maybe yours too) to save money on their graffiti removal expenses.
Q - How do I prevent this from happening again?
A - Like the last 2 answers, remove your graffiti ASAP. Waiting for the police to come take a look at it (unless they ask you specifically to leave it) is only prolonging the inevitable. It’s going to have to be removed at some point, or it’ll continue to be annoying until it is.
For more answers or details on graffiti and graffiti removal questions you might still have, please contact us via email. We’re happy to help.
Happy New Year!