Ugly, damaging, thoughtless, threatening. Just a very few of the pejorative adjectives that can be applied to graffiti and tagging. The mess on the walls across the country is a national embarrassment. Graffiti lowers property prices, lends an aura of decay to neighbourhoods, attracts more graffiti and fosters an environment that encourages other forms of crime.

What can the homeowner do to protect himself from these inane scrawlings? Join a neighbourhood watch scheme, install motion sensor lights in target areas, perhaps even video surveillance? All good approaches. But a simpler method, and one which not only denies the idiots their glory but has been found to reduce the incidence of graffiti in affected areas, is rapid removal.

There are basically three methods at your disposal. Which you use will depend on the material that has been defaced.


Not exactly removal, but obliteration, nevertheless. Painting over graffiti is a ideal approach for surfaces that are already painted. It is not too time consuming (assuming the affected area isn’t great) and can be done over and over again without damaging the surface.

For painting-over to be effective, though, you need to match the cover paint exactly with the existing paint, otherwise you’ll be left with a blotch only slightly less unattractive than the crazed ditherings of your late-night artist.

Be aware, too, that the generally dark inks used in these masterworks often bleed through lighter coloured paints. If you are repairing a light-coloured surface, ensure you prepare it adequately with primer first.

Chemical Solvent

Important in the use of chemical solvents to remove graffiti is the careful matching of the solvent to the base material. Use the wrong type of solvent and you’ll damage the surface. If in doubt, try the solvent on a small patch first.

Chemical solvents are hazardous chemicals. Be sure you know the risks and always take adequate safety precautions. Make sure, too, that you dispose of the waste in a responsible manner.

Water Blasting

Water blasting is an environmentally friendly means of removing graffiti and is particularly effective on unpainted wooden, brick and concrete surfaces. It can be used straight, or in combination with a previously applied solvent.

Prevention is Better than Cure

An alternative to repeated graffiti removal is the anti-graffiti coating. There are two types of coating, both of which are effective at spiking the guns of your neighbourhood Picasso – sacrificial and non-sacrificial.


Sacrificial coatings are applied with a brush, roller or spray gun. They form a removable barrier that does not allow the graffiti artist’s paint to reach the surface of the protected material and are therefore sometimes called “catcher-coats”.

After an attack, both the graffiti and the protective coating are cleaned from the surface, a process that does not generally require chemical solvent or great effort. For continued protection, the coating must be reapplied after each cleaning.


Non-sacrificial coatings are tough, chemical-resistant paints which allow the removal of graffiti through the use of solvents without suffering damage. They are sometimes augmented with additives like silicone to reduce the ability of paint and ink to adhere to them.

Graffiti is a destructive menace that strikes at the heart of communities – the homes in which people live, the buildings in which they work, the spaces in which children play. The best way to fight back is to deny the vandals their exposure. Rapid removal. Get rid of that mess on your fence or wall. Do it fast. And keep on doing it.

Learn more about removing graffiti in this video.

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  1. The most difficult surfaces to protect from graffiti are porous surfaces such as concrete, brickwork and stone. But there are products in the Kiwicare home care range that can not only make graffiti easier to remove but help stop all sorts of staining. The NO Leaks water proofers; Masonry Sealant and Red Brick and Terracotta Sealant are formulated to provide a silicone barrier to moisture. The Masonry sealer is for use on light coloured surfaces such as concrete, Oamaru stone, Summerhill stone and pale brickwork. The Red Brick and Terracotta sealer is formulated for dark bricks, dark stone and terracotta.
    Waterproofing porous surfaces also provides better heat retention and reduces damp which would lead to a cold building. It stops concrete floors becoming dusty and reduces staining. It slows algal and mould growth as well as making graffiti removal easier. It also reduces water penetration and consequent damage by frost. These sealers are formulated to allow the material to ‘breathe’ allowing trapped moisture to evaporate.

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