How to Remove Graffiti from Concrete

Graffiti has been with us from the beginning of time, as historians have found evidence of graffiti from as far back as ancient Egypt. People seem to want to leave their mark on the places they go. With the invention of spray paint in 1949, graffiti exploded across the world, especially in urban areas.

Although some may consider graffiti a form of art, most home and business owners hate it. Spray-painted graffiti is especially prevalent and difficult to remove. However, the quicker you remove it, the less likely vandals might return.

Fortunately, our painting pros have several options for you to try when removing graffiti. We only recommend using these options on concrete (or a similar porous surface like unpainted brick). You’ll need to take a different approach to remove graffiti from painted wood or siding. 

Check out the following four options, beginning with the easiest and least abrasive. Keep reading to get our best tips on how to remove graffiti from concrete.

Option 1: Soap, water, and scrub brush

This option is the simplest but works best before the paint fully cures on the concrete. If you catch the graffiti quickly, then try this method: 
  1. Sweep the area clear of debris.
  2. Fill a bucket with a mixture of warm water and soap. Mild dish soap should work fine.
  3. Wet the area with warm, non-soapy water, then begin working the soapy mixture onto the painted area with a stiff-bristle scrub brush.
  4. Blot the area with a dry paper towel. Try to soak up any loosened or thinned-out paint with the paper towel. 
  5. Rinse the area with fresh water from a bucket or hose.
  6. Repeat until the paint is removed.

If this option isn’t working, or if you’re dealing with older graffiti, then move on to one of the below options.

Option 2: Graffiti remover

Many companies sell different products formulated to remove graffiti from exterior surfaces. Check with your local hardware store to get their recommendation. Although graffiti removers do use chemicals, they tend to not be as harsh as many paint strippers. Also, these removers are generally inexpensive, so definitely worth trying before calling a professional or moving to a more drastic approach. Here’s what you need to do:
  1. Sweep the area clear of debris and excess dirt.
  2. Put on any protective gear recommended by the manufacturer’s directions. Take all necessary safety precautions since you will be using chemicals.
  3. Protect any surrounding areas that could be sensitive to chemicals with painter’s tape and plastic sheeting.
  4. Following the manufacturer’s directions, apply the graffiti remover to the graffiti. You may have to wait several minutes for the remover to begin acting.
  5. If necessary or recommended, work a stiff-bristle brush over the painted area in a circular motion. 
  6. Blot the area with a dry paper towel.
  7. Rinse, then repeat until you have removed all the paint.

Option 3: Paint thinner or mineral spirits 

These chemicals are a little more serious than graffiti remover but can be a simple, cost-effective way to get that graffiti off your concrete.
  1. Cover any nearby areas that could be impacted by the paint thinner, like painted areas or nearby delicate vegetation.
  2. Take all necessary safety precautions. Harsh chemicals like paint thinner can cause burning to bare skin. Wear appropriate protective gear to care for your eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and any other potentially exposed areas.
  3. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply the paint thinner to the graffiti. 
  4. After applying, wipe the area dry. 
  5. Repeat as needed until the paint has been removed.

Option 4: Power washing

This option is last not because it isn’t effective, but because not everyone has a powerwasher! A powerwasher set to the right strength can be a very effective tool for removing graffiti from concrete, especially when used in conjunction with one of the other options. Take care when using a pressure washer, as the high pressure can cause serious injury.
  1. Take all safety precautions and put on all needed protective gear.
  2. Use a pressure washer designed to handle 2,000-3,000 PSI. Less than this, and you might not have the pressure needed to remove the paint from the concrete.
  3. Choose the proper tip. 15-degree will be the best for removing paint, but will also go the slowest. If a wider degree tip gets the job done, use that to speed up your process.
  4. Begin spraying about ten feet back. Go slowly and move closer and closer until you get the desired results.
  5. Continue cleaning until you remove all the paint.

Final option: Call a pro!

If you’ve tried to remove the graffiti and just can’t get it off, give us a call. We can give you a free, zero-obligation estimate on what it would take to get your home looking as good as new. 

None of us like having our home or business tagged by random people. If we can help you get it off your home, then give us a call!

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