Has your fence been the target of graffiti vandalism? Illegal graffiti can be difficult to effectively remove from fences, here are some solutions if your fence becomes the target of a graffiti vandal.
Australia houses some of the most talented street artists in the world. Locations like AC/DC Lane, Kemp Street, Grand Lane and more are home to constantly changing works of art. Tourists and locals alike can learn more about each major city’s history by partaking in street art tours. Of course, there’s a large difference between art and graffiti. Graffiti is criminal vandalism and is most often tags or crude art and occasionally offensive material.
As a property owner, be it residential or commercial, the problem of graffiti falls on your shoulders. Figuring out how to clean graffiti off your fence depends heavily on the material your fence or wall is made from and what kind of paint or markers the vandals have used. It can be costly to arrange for graffiti to be professionally removed, so you may prefer to try to clean the graffiti off yourself. Here’s what you need to know about removing graffiti from your fence.
How common is illegal graffiti in Australia?
There aren’t many exact figures on the illegal graffiti problem in Australia due to many home or business owners not bothering to report the vandalism to the police. We can’t really know the full scope of the problem, although we do know it is a prevalent and expensive issue across the country. Approximately 2 million square meters of graffiti was replaced or removed in Victoria from 2005 to 2021, which shows the costly consequences of tagging vandalism.
Which properties are more at risk of graffiti vandalism?
Unfortunately, due to our fences facing outwards to the public street, every property is somewhat at risk. Public buildings tend to be more at risk than residential and, because the majority of illegal graffiti taggers are youths aged between 15-24, places such as schools and youth centres are common targets. Easily accessible buildings, such as houses or commercial properties nearby parks or busy shopping centres are also often targeted because it’s easy for the tagger to run and hide if necessary. Taggers tend to choose concrete, stone and brick walls as the surface for their vandalism and these are difficult to completely clean due to the paint sinking into the small crevices or cracks.
Am I obligated to clean the graffiti off the fence myself?
Most likely, yes. If the perpetrator is caught while graffitiing your property, they’ll probably be liable to pay for the cleaning or removal of the graffiti vandalism. Some councils or local governments will remove your graffiti for you. Try reaching out to your local council to see if this is a service they offer. However, in most cases, it is up to the property owner. Your council can also order you to remove your graffiti within a specific timeframe, especially if it’s offensive in nature.
Removing the graffiti using household products
The most important thing to remember when cleaning graffiti is to act quickly! As well as having a better chance of removing it effectively, it also encourages the tagger not to re-offend. They’ll realise their graffiti will not be displayed for very long and will move onto another target location.
You may want to start with household products to save yourself further expenses. Be careful if your fence is painted, as certain chemicals can be enough to strip this away or damage it. Also, be wary of using these products on wood – some types of wood will just soak up the chemicals as it does the paint, and you’ll exacerbate the problem instead of fixing it.
If your fence is made from PVC or another type of plastic, sometimes soap and water can be enough to remove the graffiti. Strong cleaners like diluted bleach, Jif, a magic eraser or similar can also be effective. Please remember to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning with any concentrated solution, as it can be toxic for us to inhale or handle. PVC fences are likely the easiest to clean up graffiti from, so if this is something you are concerned about, you should opt for your fence to be made from this material. Jim’s Fencing offers a variety of styles for your PVC Fencing to come, including the classic picket fence and slat fencing. You can even get your PVC customised to look like wood grain!
Steel wool is a time consuming but very effective graffiti remover. It’s also going to severely rough up the surface of your wall, so only do this with brick or concrete where this isn’t an issue.
For brick surfaces, any caustic cleaning supplies like oven cleaners could also work well. Leave the cleaner on for half a day and then scrub thoroughly. It is imperative to remember to never use caustic products around aluminium, however, as the two elements react to each other and cause a burning, toxic environment.
Using targeted graffiti remover
You can purchase targeted graffiti remover, which you can find in your local Bunnings. Usually, these products will be of industrial strength, so it’s even more crucial to handle these carefully and follow the instructions. If you find the graffiti remover isn’t doing the trick, you can also try paint stripper – obviously, this only works on a non-painted fence like brick or natural wood, as otherwise, it can lift off your paint job.
Using a water pressure blaster or a power washer is also beneficial for moving stubborn spray paint or marks. Hot water is more effective than cold water. Be mindful when using a water pressure blaster or power washer because soft fence surfaces, such as softer wood or stucco, can be damaged using this method.
Cover the graffiti up
If your fence is a delicate surface, or you’ve attempted to clean it with no luck, it may be worth painting over. This is usually the least desirable option, as it will likely be the most expensive and time-consuming. If you have a repeat tagging offender, you don’t want to end up with a fence with twenty layers of paint! Also, this would be something you’d only want to do once. Regardless, if you can find a great paint match or have leftover paint, you’ll be able to spot cover-up. Otherwise, you may find yourself repainting your entire fence.
Preventing future graffiti vandalism
Illegal graffiti, especially tagging, is unfortunately very simple and quick for vandals to do. It can be hard to stop perpetrators from tagging your fence as your fence is your defensive barrier. Your fence is likely preventing them from tagging your property!
There are several actions you can take to make your fence less appealing, however. Greenery, such as tall trees, bushes and overgrowing vines can cover large portions of your fence to prevent it from being vandalised with graffiti. You can also opt-in to get your own graffiti artwork painted on your wall. This can potentially put off anyone who wouldn’t like to deface art and taggers who don’t want their signature lost in the overall picture.
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