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Removing graffiti quickly from your property is the best way to discourage graffiti vandals. By allowing graffiti to remain on your property, you are inviting the vandals to return and do the same to other properties in the area.
Property with graffiti that is not removed in a reasonable amount of time may be subject to fines under the Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance.
SPU offers free paint to community groups and volunteers to help private property owners who are in high impact areas and repeatedly tagged with graffiti.
To remove paint or ink graffiti
- Use a pressure washer. Rent one at your neighborhood tool bank or rental agency. Make sure to follow all directions carefully.
- Clean all surfaces to be painted. Any oil, mildew or blistering old paint should be removed or your paint won't stick.
- Use matching color paint or neutral colors like gray, white or beige.
- Repaint the entire wall, or paint up to 7 feet high (making a straight line across the top) with a color that matches the wall. This leaves no trace of graffiti and does not draw the attention of the vandals. This method is 10 times more effective than patching.
- When it is not possible to paint the entire wall, use a closely matched color blocked over the graffiti in neat, square shapes. The closer the color match, the more effective it is in preventing further vandalism.
- Protect the ground from paint drips by placing a drop cloth or cardboard on the ground under the surface you are painting.
- Square up your work. Covering over the graffiti in the shape of a square makes the paint-out less noticeable. Clean up drips and spills before moving on to the next site.
To remove graffiti from glass
A recent development in graffiti vandalism is acid etching on glass. Unfortunately, this type of vandalism results in permanent marking and the glass often must be completely replaced. A short-term solution is to conceal it with a protective or decorative covering. Contact a professional glass company for removal and replacement recommendations.
If you need more help
- Contact a professional painter or contractor if you are unfamiliar with painting out graffiti or if your property has unique characteristics.
- Contact your local business association for advice- Use a search engine to look up Business Associations for listings. The City of Seattle has worked with many business groups in the city to combat graffiti, including the Chinatown-International District Association, the University District Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Improvement District, the Pioneer Square Business Improvement Area, the Broadway Business Improvement Area, and the West Seattle Junction Association.
Paint it Out Brochure (pdf)