GRAFFITI REMOVAL: WHY AND HOW?

Bristol is home to a lot of graffiti artists in the UK, including maestros like Banksy, and it draws more of these artists from all over the world in large numbers when festivals like the Harbour festival take place. Over the years, the town has become a haven for street art – buildings sport incredibly colourful pieces and they spring up as fast as they are taken down. Despite the seeming pervasiveness of the art, the government still deems it a crime and encourages removals when they can. Why?

Why does the government encourage graffiti removal?

This is largely due to preconceived notions that have been given validation in several scenarios. First of all, graffiti is seen as a detraction from the beauty of a community. This has been proven to lead to suppressed housing prices and stigmatization of certain neighbourhoods as lower-class. It has also been linked to gang activities and has persisted in continuity despite numerous efforts to curb its excesses. This makes the government consider it a negative externality; an extra cost on house owners and other citizens not originally bargained for.

How do graffiti removals happen?

Graffiti artists are more than inclined to imprint on surfaces that should not be imprinted on. These include historical buildings and statues, bus stop shelters, billboards, religious buildings, parks, private property, and even vehicles. Most graffiti is done with chemicals that leave the underlying material worse off than they were when removal is attempted. How then, does one properly remove graffiti off surfaces? 

The first step to graffiti removal is to identify the defaced surface and the kind of paint to be removed. All the aforementioned surfaces are made of different materials; so is the paint used in most cases. Artists use paints, adhesives, markers, polishes, etc. Certain removal treatments only work for specific imprints, so it is important to identify these before executing a removal.

The second step is picking the main removal method. Each method is specific in action, so it is important to note that some of these may leave the defaced surface even worse than it was if applied to the wrong material. Some graffiti removal methods include

Painting over the graffiti

This is the most simple method of “removal”. Approaching from a semantic position, it is not a removal method because the graffiti is not actually “removed” – it is painted over. It is also the cheapest method on the list because it can be done with a bucket of paint and some unskilled labour. It is also the safest because it does not directly interact with the material underneath the graffiti. It is, however, ineffective in the long run because the paint starts to wear off after a while and parts of the graffiti become visible again. This makes for an even more terrible aesthetic effect that either the graffiti or original template perpetuated. 

Using chemical removers

The use of chemical solvents to dissolve paint materials is probably the most effective method of graffiti removal. Stronger solvents dissolve paints faster than weaker solvents, but they usually affect the surface underneath if care is not taken. Safety measures should be employed when using these solvents because they have the potential to erode the skin and might cause blindness if they get into the eyes. While this is enough to label these products as hazardous, recent studies have come up showing how these solvents are detrimental to the environment. This is why this method is fast becoming an outdated one. 

Pressure washing

This method employs the use of water and a solvent to remove graffiti from a surface. It can be done in various ways but typically, the solvent is added first and then washed off with pressurised water. In some cases, a blasting media like baking soda is used to scrub the graffiti off, in others water mixed with sand or soda is used. This method is also effective, but might eventually wear down the surface.

It is clear that it is never advisable for unskilled personnel to handle graffiti removals individually, especially if salvaging the surface beneath is a priority. Total Drainage Services is a cost-effective group that deals in some of the best graffiti removals Bristol offers. We have a lot of expertise, and we are dedicated to ensuring your surfaces stay clean and intact after removal. Contact us today for your graffiti removal