There was a time when people would look at graffiti strewn across a clean, smooth concrete surface and then simply shrug their shoulders or shake their heads.
But that apathetic attitude is in the past. Now, cities are getting serious about preventing graffiti vandals (also called taggers) from using concrete and other surfaces as their canvases. Officials and public works departments are also moving more quickly to remove the blight after the taggers strike.
Graffiti is not just a problem of appearance. It accounts for 35% of vandalism cases, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. And in some cities, abatement costs taxpayers more than $3 million annually. In 2007, San Francisco spent $3.2 million to remove graffiti from 30,000 locations and 800,000 square feet of surfaces. Much of that was concrete. It's estimated that each incident costs $250 in labor and materials to remove.
“No one knows nationally what the trend is, but public works departments and police understand the need to bring together a host of public and private entities to deal with it,” says Conni Kunzler, a consultant for the Graffiti Hurts program of Keep America Beautiful. “It's not just about removal, but also prevention, education, and enforcement.”
In Dallas, city departments must remove graffiti from public property under their jurisdiction within 48 hours. The streets department treats streets, sidewalks, guardrails, and bridges. The public works department oversees street signs, traffic control devices, and light poles.
— From PUBLIC WORKS magazine.
The following cleaning and prevention products will remove unwanted graffiti from concrete structures.
Graffiti shield system
Graffiti Shield is a two-part system. The first part is a protective, clear coating that seals previously painted substrates. The second part is a spray-on cleaner that easily removes graffiti, pollution, and dirt from the coated surface. The coating is water-based and can be applied by brush, roller, or airless spray equipment. United Coatings. 800-541-4383. www.unitedcoatings.com.
Coating keeps bridges clean
Anti-Graffiti Clear Coat is a single-component, low-VOC, non-sacrificial elastomeric siloxane coating for new or previously coated concrete substrates. The coating requires only a solvent wipe cleaning or a 3000-psi pressure washer to remove graffiti. It could be dry to the touch in 30 minutes, depending on temperature, humidity, and film thickness. Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings. 800-524-5979. http://protective.sherwin-williams.com.
Graffiti removal products
The Max line includes several graffiti removal products. Elephant Snot (Gold Max) penetrates deeply into concrete, brick, grout, and stone to dissolve and loosen all types of tags. In many circumstances, simple water hose pressure will do the job. Shadow Max removes difficult shadows and ghosts that may appear on porous surfaces after graffiti is removed. Graffiti Solutions. 800-891-0091. www.graffitisolutions.com.