Graffiti Management

Tips for Preventing and Removing Graffiti Vandalism

The most important step to take in order to keep graffiti vandalism off of your property is to be vigilant and remove graffiti as soon as possible. The faster graffiti is removed the less likely it will reoccur. The longer graffiti stays on your property the harder it becomes to remove and the more additional graffiti it attracts. You may also commission an artist to create a mural or graffiti art on your property and apply for an exemption.

Preventing Graffiti

  • Installation of security cameras
  • Restrict access to buildings and structures, i.e. fences
  • Paint surfaces in dark colours
  • Protect your walls with a protective coating
  • Neighbourhood watch groups
  • Plant climbing vines or thorny plants along building walls
  • Use of murals or graffiti art

Removing Graffiti

  • Remove graffiti as soon as possible, 24 to 72 hours
  • Paint over graffiti with appropriate paint type
  • Use environmentally safe removal products
  • Have a maintenance schedule
  • Hire someone to remove the graffiti
  • Benefit from community cleanups if your property is in an area covered by a volunteer program
  • Contact your Municipal Licensing and Standards District Office for more information

Removing Graffiti on Specific Surface Types

It is often difficult and frustrating to remove graffiti from your property. In general, removing graffiti involves the use of a cleaning agent and some patience.

  • Determine the porosity of the surface (masonry surfaces being the most porous, painted metal/vinyl surfaces the least).For very porous surfaces the cleaning agent should be allowed to sink in to the surface and be agitated (with steel wool/wire brush) while sinking in.
  • For less porous surfaces the cleaning agent may not be allowed to soak in and should therefore be removed with a cloth, so as not to damage the existing finish.

Metal and masonry surfaces:

  • Power-wash with a pressure washer
  • Paint over the graffiti

Wood Surfaces:

  • If the wood is not weathered and is sealed with paint, stain or sealer, remove it by wiping it with mineral spirits
  • Power wash it with a pressure washer

Plastic Surfaces:

  • Try wiping graffiti with a light, penetrating oil. Do not use paint thinners as they can soften the plastic and can cause clouding (if clear plastic) or permanent tackiness of the surface.
  • If this does not remove the graffiti, paint over it.

Glass Surfaces:

  • Scrape it off. Use a razor blade in a holder and scrape at a 30 degree angle to the glass.
  • If the paint does not come off completely after using the razor blade, use ultra-fine bronze wool with water to gently rub the remaining paint off.

In addition, there are several different products available that can be used on their own or with a power washer. Be sure to research the product to ensure that it is suitable for the intended application. When painting over graffiti, be sure to obtain the right type of paint for the location and type of surface you are painting. Make sure that the method chosen is done safely and that it will not cause damage to the structure, to the environment or to you.

If your building has been designated as a Heritage structure, removing graffiti can be a delicate task. For more information contact City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services at 416-392-1975 orheritagepreservation@toronto.ca.

The above instructions are very basic and will not always work. For more difficult removal situations professional grade graffiti removal products and services can be found in your local Yellow Pages under Graffiti Removal.