How to remove graffiti

Tuesday, 20 January 2015 12:06:36 PM Australia/Sydney

How to remove graffiti

Graffiti can be a blight on the urban landscape. It is unsightly and often offensive. Graffitists may not be large in number, but their vandalism can be seen throughout our cities, towns and countryside in ever increasing amounts.

Some state governments and legal authorities have recently announced a comprehensive program to combat the growing problem of graffiti in our environment with a wide range of initiatives.

Graffiti removal was once the domain of the professional remover. It was expensive and cumbersome, often incorporating high-pressure water sprayers, heavy sandblasting equipment and/or toxic chemicals.

Recent product developments however, have resulted in the availability of a wide range of graffiti removal products and anti-graffiti protective coatings that have been developed specifically for the DIY home user.

They are easy to use and target specific types of graffiti on different surfaces, therefore reducing treatment costs, minimising damage to existing paintwork and improving user safety.

Now you can play your part in the war against graffiti. With a little help from your Mitre I0 store, you can keep your property graffiti free.

Step 1: Protective coatings for your walls

Lawn Feed

Unpainted masonry surfaces in high-risk areas can be protected from graffiti by the application of a specially formulated sealer to the surface. This will provide a hard, non-porus surface which will aid the removal of any subsequent graffiti. Removal is usually accomplished with normal cleaning methods and solvents.

Some products can provide a long lasting invisible barrier which helps make grafitti removal easier. Always check the manufacturers instructions as some coatings may need to be re-applied after a grafitti attack. These are known as sacrificial coatings or sealers.

Other coatings and sealers are permanent (non-sacrificial), and will withstand repeated graffiti removals without damaging the coating. Again, check the manufacturers instructions for best results. Or consult your local Mitre I0 expert for advice.

These coatings can be either solvent based, or water based with a single pack or two pack formula. Mitre I0 can advise you on the product best suited to you

Step 2: Identifying the graffiti medium, and the graffiti surface


In order to provide the best advice, your Mitre10 expert will need to know what type of paint or marker is used on the graffiti, and what the underlying surface is. Aerosol paints are the most common graffiti medium, and also the most difficult to remove. Felt tip markers, crayons and ordinary paint may also be encountered. Different surfaces require different treatments. Establish if your surface is masonry, cement render, iron, and if it has been painted. This will help determine the optimum removal system for your specific graffiti problem. If you are having trouble identifying the underlying surface, consult a local tradesperson or call the Mitre 10 Advice Line for help.

Remember, prompt removal of graffiti is the best option. This will discourage graffitists, as their ‘work’ will no longer be on display.

Graffiti is easiest to remove if it is treated promptly before the paint has had time to cure.

So, get the right advice, and strike swiftly to eradicate your graffiti.

Step 3: Treatment is always an option


Often the cheapest and quickest method of dealing with graffiti is to repaint the affected area with a fresh coat of paint. Sealants may be required on some graffiti to prevent bleeding through the finished paintwork.

Remember when repainting, that darker surfaces are less likely to attract further graffiti.

Step 4: Removal is possible

Weed Control

There is a wide range of products now available on the market to remove graffiti. Because they rely on a chemical reaction with the paint, they will work best at high temperatures when the treated surface is warm. Winter sun is ideal to warm a surface, but hot summer sun will tend to dry out the solvent. In this case reapply the solvent to keep the surface wet.

Your local Mitre I0 can help you identify which grafitti remover will be appropriate for the job.

Step 5: Graffiti removal products to help you

Pest Control

In the past, harsh paint strippers were used to remove graffiti. Paint manufacturers have designed new products that actually work with the existing paint to remove graffiti and minimise damage to painted surfaces. They are usually non-caustic, biodegradable, water soluble and are very easy to use.

Most biodegradable removers are suitable for non-porous surfaces, especially pre-painted surfaces. Using them is easy:

  • Try a test patch first to see if the graffiti is susceptible to being removed.
  • Apply in small sections and let stand for the recommended amount of time.
  • Wipe or hose off with water. Use a scrubbing brush where necessary.


For pourous surfaces such as brick, concrete, cement render, sandstone, etc. a heavy duty remover may be needed. Remember, always check the manufacturers instructions before you apply a grafitti remover. Or ask your local Mitre I0 expert for advice before commencing work. Again, using them is easy:

  • Apply several coats of remover, waiting 2-3 minutes between coats.
  • Hose off with a pressure cleaner, if needed.


Other products are simply applied either with a brush, spray or aerosol and left to react with the graffiti. They are then wiped off (Fig. I), and the surface is rinsed with water. For stubborn graffiti, the process may need to be repeated.

Another product that is available to help you is a biodegradable, low toxicity, low odour, long acting gel. This product is simply painted on to the graffiti, wiped off and then rinsed with water.

IMPORTANT: The purchase of Solvent Based Aerosols is restricted to persons I8 years or older. Persons may be required to produce evidence of age when purchasing Solvent Based Aerosols.

Mighty Helpful Hints for advoiding graffiti

There are some simple steps that you can take to help prevent graffiti:

  • Well-positioned sensor lights can be a deterrent to graffitists.
  • Appropriate planting of vines, bushes or spiky plants such as bougainvillea is a cheap and effective way of avoiding graffiti.
  • Dark surfaces tend to deter graffitists.
  • Heavily textured surfaces are difficult to deface with paint or felt pens.
  • When building fences or walls in high-risk areas, incorporate regular niches or steps to break the surface area and make it less likely to be defaced.
  • Apply anti graffiti coatings to high-risk areas.
Copyright Mitre 10 Australia Pty Ltd. Reproduction prohibited other than for personal use. This guide has been produced to provide basic information and our experienced staff are available to answer any questions you may have. However, this information is provided for use on the understanding that Mitre 10 is not liable for any claim, cost, expense, loss or damage which is suffered or incurred (including but not limited to indirect or consequential loss), for any personal injury or damage to property suffered or sustained as a result of or arising out of or in any way connected with using the information contained in this guide. Mitre 10 advises you to call in a qualified trades person, such as an electrician or plumber, where expert services are required, and to independently assess any safety precautions that will need to be followed prior to using the information in this guide.