Expert Pressure Washing in Indianapolis, IN

Using Pressure Washing to Remove Graffiti

GERMANY, FRANKFURT AM MAIN - May 07.2014 : Worker of municipal service of city cleans a wall from graffiti. Remove Graffiti

Graffiti. It is unsightly, unwarranted, and often vulgar. Graffiti describes any writing or drawings painted or scrawled, usually illegally, into other people’s (or public) property. Its presence puts a dent in curb appeal and property values, and the paint can even damage the surfaces it is applied to. Finding the best way to remove graffiti can prove a challenge, but here are the basics. 

Colorful graffiti letters on brick wall background. Remove Graffiti

The General Outline for Removing Graffiti

The quest to remove graffiti is a noble one but also nuanced. Getting rid of unsightly stains is certainly the goal, but if you go about it the wrong way, you can actually perpetuate the damage, especially to surfaces like brick and stucco. 

Though there are exceptions, the general process of removing graffiti is as follows: apply chemicals to wear down the paint, let them work for a while, then rise with a pressure wash. To avoid mishap, the best course of action is to call a professional pressure washing company to take care of the job. These professionals will know which chemicals to use, which pressure settings and temperatures to employ, and whether or not a stain can be safely removed at all.

The Perfect Blend

A chemical coat is often key to removing graffiti. Doing so loosens the spray paint so it can be washed away. Choosing the right chemicals in the right concentrations is a nuanced business so you don’t damage the surface underneath. Generally these chemical cocktails contain trisodium phosphate (TSP), though it is very important to consider each case carefully before concocting the mixture.

The application process is also very important. The chemical mixture is added with a pressure washer, but the pressure settings should be dialed way down to avoid driving the chemicals into the surface and leaving stains. 80 psi should be just about right to add the mixture to the outer layer of graffiti. 

Chemical cleaners help remove graffiti by doing one of two things: they may cause the coloring in the paint to fade or, even better, degrade the glue binding the spray paint together and to the wall. Once the cleaning solution has had some time to do either of these, it should be rinsed off along with the remains of the spray paint. You can set your pressure washer to higher pressure settings for this step.

Russia, Yekaterinburg, August 14, 2019 a man in a raincoat washes away graffiti on the city wall with a stream of water and chemicals. destruction of modern art. Remove Graffiti

Does Pressure Washing Remove Graffiti?

A pressure washer is often the essential tool when you need to remove graffiti. In fact, in some cases, the high-pressure spray from a pressure washer alone is enough to get rid of the signs of spray paint. This is a good solution for surfaces for which cleaning chemicals are too harsh. However, this method is really only effective if the paint has not had very long to dry and harden.

If the unwanted art has taken up residence for more than a few days, the process of adding chemicals and rinsing is the best one. This too requires finesse. Many inexperienced pressure washer operators have tried to blast what remains of graffiti or its shadow off of their surfaces. Doing so leads to damage and frustration more often than not. Use discretion in the pressure settings employed if you want your surfaces to remain intact.

If you need a little more “umph” to remove graffiti, there are two options. The first is a more concentrated nozzle. More focused pressure can do away with unwanted spray paint if it doesn’t damage the surfaces underneath. The other option to increase power is to use heat.

Power washers are essentially pressure washers with a heating element. This allows them to provide 100-times the rinsing power of cold water alone. Hot pressurized water increases the success rate of removing graffiti completely to an impressive 98%. We usually recommend a pressure washer for both stages of the cleaning process. Use heat and low pressure settings to apply the chemical solution, then rinse away with higher pressure settings for fresh and graffiti-free surfaces.

GERMANY, FRANKFURT AM MAIN - May 07.2014 : Worker of municipal service of city cleans a wall from graffiti. Remove Graffiti

Can You Remove Graffiti from Brick?

Brick is a highly porous material and so presents a challenge when it comes to removing graffiti or pressure washing in general. Pay extra attention to the chemicals used when cleaning brick so you don’t experience erosion or chipping. We recommend consulting with the professionals for these cases.

Can You Power Wash Graffiti Off of a Vehicle?

Pressure washing metal is a mixed bag. Sometimes the spray paint comes right off, while in other cases, the pressure causes the finish of the metal to be stripped away. Nozzle type and the age of the paint are the biggest factors when pressure washing metal surfaces. Call your local pressure washing company to get a professional opinion.