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How graffiti removal restores property and rebuilds community

REACT’s graffiti removal service addresses a form of anti-social behaviour that shouldn’t be a fact of life for urban communities.

Graffiti clad modern building React Specialist Cleaning
Graffiti blights communities by creating a threatening, unwelcoming environment, as well as damaging property.

Graffiti can sometimes seem like an inevitable part of the urban environment. Meanwhile, the fame of street artists such as Banksy is used to characterise graffiti as an art form. But scratch beneath the (painted) surface and you see that graffiti can be problematic for property owners and communities more generally. There is a huge gulf between genuine street art and the scrawled, spray-painted messages which affect so many cities and towns. It’s no exaggeration to say that graffiti can blight communities by creating a threatening, unwelcoming environment. In this blog, we’re going to look at how to define graffiti, and how REACT’s graffiti removal service helps address this anti-social behaviour.

The problem is there to be seen

Put simply, graffiti is a form of criminal damage. It can be defined as ‘any inscription, marking, writing, painting or drawing, illicitly scratched, scribbled, drawn, cut, carved, posted, pasted, sprayed or painted on any surface’. The surface (‘canvas’) upon which the graffiti is applied is normally vertical and in public view. Graffiti is applied to stationary objects such as walls, fences, trees, street furniture and street cabinets. It’s also put on to moving objects, such as railway carriages, buses and commercial vehicles. Graffiti takes many forms, including stylized ‘tags’, which are often gang-related and territorial.

Although graffiti can appear anywhere, it’s most prevalent in the urban environment. Gangs ('crews') use stylized tags to indicate ‘ownership’ of a particular neighbourhood or canvas. Other more ‘artistic’ graffiti is most often found in locations with a high chance of public viewing, so they tend to be next to streets with greater pedestrian and vehicular movement. With respect to commercial units and housing, the most common form of graffiti is wall tagging. This particularly affects gable end walls, such as those at the end of terraces or the side of blocks of flats, walls next to bus stops and close to neighbourhood shopping streets, and walls along alleyways.

Why graffiti is so destructive

Certain forms of graffiti have sometimes been welcomed by local communities. It may be a verbal or visual message with which the local population agree, or it can brighten up an otherwise dreary blank wall. In fact, many local authorities and businesses have sanctioned the use of certain walls as ‘graffiti walls.’ And in certain cases, they’ve engaged street artists to paint murals over walls that have been consistently tagged.

We draw a clear distinction between such public street art and graffiti. Unsanctioned illegal graffiti can affect you in several ways. You can suffer direct attacks on your personal property, such as the walls and fences of workplaces or homes. You can be affected by living or working in a neighbourhood with a high prevalence of tagging. This can be a sign of urban decay and can feel threatening, especially if it’s gang related. Likewise, you also experience graffiti in the wider environment when you’re out and about including scratched tags on the windows of buses, bus shelters and train carriages, and on the walls of both occupied and derelict commercial buildings. It’s also the case that graffiti can multiply, given its territoriality; rival groups of vandals may tag the same property multiple times.

Getting to grips with graffiti removal

If your building or other property is subject to graffiti, the most important thing to do is to remove it as soon as it appears. Ultimately, those who apply tags want them to be seen. If taggers know their graffiti will be removed within a very short time after application, they may not use your property again. We provide a fast and effective response to treat affected areas. Our experienced, fully vetted operatives are on hand at short notice 24/7 and equipped with the latest environmentally friendly chemical solvents and tools. Some surfaces may be harmed by paints used by perpetrators, notably on public transport units. We’ll act quickly to address degradation of surfaces, returning them to normal condition, ensuring minimal disruption, and adhering to legislation.

We can also advise on treating walls and other structures with anti-graffiti coatings. Removing graffiti from an unprotected surface can be up to 80% more difficult than removing it from a protected one. Permanent anti-graffiti glazes and paints have a very hard finish, so graffiti removal is much easier to achieve with less damage to the wall. Alternatively, sacrificial coatings have a hard yet permeable finish, which creates a barrier between graffiti and wall. Graffiti is removed by washing away the sacrificial coating with low-pressure hot water, after which the coating is reapplied.

To find out more about REACT Specialist Cleaning and our graffiti removal service, contact one of the team today.

Post by Shaun D. Doak

Shaun is the CEO of REACT Group plc., a business dedicated to specialist cleaning, hygiene and decontamination. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sector.


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