Graffiti

Discouraging Vandalism: How You Can Help


Graffiti Whenever you observe graffiti vandalism, note the address of the graffiti and notify the Beaverton Police Department by calling the non-emergency dispatch number, (503) 629-0111. If you actually see graffiti vandals at work, note the address and call 9-1-1. The police will investigate the crime and try to apprehend the perpetrators. The police will also notify the property owners of the damage and ask them to quickly remove the graffiti to discourage future vandalism.

Vandalism is a crime. Be sure to explain this to your children and grandchildren. Destruction of other people's property is no laughing matter.

Graffiti Removal Ideas and Suggestions


The City does not endorse any commercial products, but the names of some products are mentioned herein to help citizens identify the kinds of products that may be useful. Graffiti is always easier to remove as soon as possible after occurrence and before the paint has fully cured.

Painted or Protected Surfaces


These include concrete, wood, metal or other surfaces that has a topcoat to protect it. These surfaces are usually easier to clean because the graffiti cannot penetrate as far into the surface.
  • Begin by testing a small, unimportant area first to see what will be effective and to make sure the products you are using do not cause damage.
  • First try to remove the graffiti with ordinary household cleaners, like detergent, scouring powder, dishwasher soap, or citrus-based cleaners. Apply the cleaning agent with a scrub brush, wait a few minutes and repeat.
  • If those don't work, try rubbing alcohol or WD-40 with the same procedure.
  • If those don't work, try turpentine or mineral spirits, then paint thinner or fingernail polish remove(acetone).
  • If those don't work, try a commercial graffiti remover sold at a local hardware or paint store, like “Goof-Off”. These products may be hazardous to your health, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Wear protective goggles and gloves. Collect runoff for proper disposal. Do not allow hazardous chemicals to enter into the storm drain system.
  • If the graffiti remains, try scrubbing with steel wool or a light sandpaper.
  • If the graffiti still remains, try using a pressure washer. Don't have a pressure washer? Do any of your neighbors have one? You can rent one at the local equipment rental store, but be very careful to follow all of the manufacturer's operating instructions. Pressure washers can be dangerous and can damage surfaces if used excessively or at excessively high pressures.

Bare Masonry Surfaces


These include unpainted brick and concrete. The harder and smoother the surface, the better the chances of removing graffiti without damage or visible change. Here are some removal methods that can be effective:
  • The best option is to pressure wash the graffiti before the paint has cured. Scrub the affected area first with a citrus-based cleaner and allow it to soak in for a few minutes. Be careful in selecting the type of tip you use in the pressure wand. Too narrow of a tip, such as 0 degrees, may etch the masonry surface, leaving an outline of the graffiti.
  • If the citrus based cleaner doesn't work, apply a graffiti removing solvent, oven cleaner or paint stripper as directed by the product's manufacturer. Wait as directed by the product's manufacturer, usually at least 3 - 5 minutes. Scrub the affected area with a stiff brush or wire brush, being careful not to damage the surface. Rinse off with a hose or pressure washer. Some of these products may be hazardous to your health, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Wear protective goggles and gloves. Collect runoff water for proper disposal. Do not allow hazardous chemicals to enter into the storm drain system.
  • Sand blasting is another removal option. As with pressure washing, be careful not to allow the sandblasting tip to remain in one spot too long as it can permanently etch the surface. Keep the tip moving over the painted area and the surrounding area so that it blends in.

Metal Surfaces


These surfaces are usually easier to clean because the graffiti cannot penetrate as far into the
surface.
  • Begin by testing a small, unimportant area first to see what will be effective and to make sure the products you are using do not cause damage.
  • First try to remove the graffiti with a light penetrating oil like “WD-40” or “Three-in-One”. If those don't work, try turpentine, paint thinner, or fingernail polish remover (acetone). If those don't work, try oven cleaner or a commercial graffiti remover sold at a local hardware or paint store, like “Goof-Off”. Some of these products may be hazardous to your health, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Wear protective goggles and gloves. Collect runoff water for proper disposal. Do not allow hazardous chemicals to enter into the storm drain system.
  • If the graffiti remains, try scrubbing with steel wool or a light sandpaper. Be careful not to scratch the surface.
  • If the graffiti still remains, try using a pressure washer. Don't have a pressure washer? Do any of your neighbors have one? You can rent one at the local equipment rental store, but be very careful to follow all of the manufacturer's operating instructions. Pressure washers can be dangerous and can cause injury if not used carefully.

Plastic Surfaces


  • Do not use paint thinner or solvents on plastic as they may cloud the plastic or cause permanent tackiness.
  • Begin by testing a small, unimportant area first to see what will be effective and to make sure the products you are using do not cause damage.
  • First try to remove the graffiti with ordinary household cleaners, like detergent or dishwasher soap. If those don't work, try rubbing alcohol or WD-40. If those don't work, try turpentine or mineral spirits.
  • If the graffiti remains, try rubbing lightly with a very fine steel wool or plastic pot scrubber. Plastic scratches easily, so test a small, unimportant area first.
  • If the graffiti still remains, try using a pressure washer. Don't have a pressure washer? Do any of your neighbors have one? You can rent one at the local equipment rental store, but be very careful to follow all of the manufacturer's operating instructions. Pressure washers can cause injury if not used safely.

Glass Surfaces


  • The best way to remove graffiti from glass is to scrape it off with a razor blade.
  • Use a razor blade holder and scrape at a thirty-degree angle to the glass.
  • If some graffiti remains, try rubbing lightly with a plastic pot scrubber.
  • If the graffiti still remains, try using a pressure washer. Don't have a pressure washer? Do any of your neighbors have one? You can rent one at the local equipment rental store, but be very careful to follow all of the manufacturer's operating instructions. Pressure washers can cause injury if not used safely.

Painting Over Graffiti


As a last resort, you can paint over the graffiti. However, it is still a good idea to try to remove as
much of the graffiti as possible before painting to reduce “bleed through”.
  • Prepare the surface to be painted by cleaning it well, removing as much graffiti as possible.
  • Try to match the color of the original paint or the color of the unpainted surface as closely as possible.
  • Paint over the graffiti in clean square shapes. Try to blend the newly painted areas into the surroundings by painting all the way to the edge, if possible.
  • Consider using a graffiti-resistant paint, such as a solvent-based enamel or a polyurethane coating for areas that are repeatedly vandalized. This will cost a little more, but will be worth it in the long run.

Additional Resources