Team Clean, Inc.Team Clean, Inc.
Removing Graffiti

BAG THE TAGS: Why Removing Graffiti is So Hard

Removing graffiti is still one of the toughest building maintenance chores to deal with.  Soap and water usually won’t do it. But a lot of harsh chemicals and sharp scrapers might. However you choose to deal with graffiti, the cleaning-off process is a long, messy one if you choose to do it yourself. And your results are not guaranteed.

To save time, money and the agony of defeat, a professional cleaning firm like Team Clean, which has successfully dealt with graffiti for decades, is probably the best way to go.

But if you’re determined to do it yourself, here’s what you’ll need in your graffiti fighter’s tool kit:

1.          Aerosol solvent
2.         Clean cotton painters’ rags
3.         Trash bags
4.         Inexpensive paintbrushes, rollers and paint containers
5.         Paint matching various surfaces around your neighborhood
6.         Paint scraper
7.         Dust mask
8.         Safety glasses
9.         Kitchen cleaner and water in spray bottle

Solvents and Cleaners
There are a number of graffiti removal products on the market. It can help to become familiar with each one. Learn about safe use and safe handling. Some of the better-known solvents available at major hardware stores can be hazardous to your health. Using a respirator is probably safer than using a dust mask. Breathing this stuff is obnoxious and NOT healthy.

You need to be aware of wind conditions. You need eye and breathing protection when you use it. Rags used with solvent should be discarded properly. DO NOT KEEP FLAMMABLE RAGS IN CONTAINERS in your vehicle or garage.

Know the product you are using and HOW TO HANDLE AN ACCIDENTAL INJURY when using the product.

Some of the markers the vandals are using are not permanent. We’ve been able to clean some signs with soap and water.

Safety Glasses 
Safety glasses keep paints, solvents, and dust from entering the eyes. Always use caution. Never compromise eye safety.

Cleaning Smooth Surfaces
Test an inconspicuous area of the surface with your cleaning material. Most modern signs clean quickly. Start by cleaning with soap and water first then proceed to solvents.

Cleaning from Rough Surfaces 
Many times paint on a rough surface causes permanent damage. The character of the surface will change because, in some cases, it is virtually impossible to remove all of the paint from a porous surface. A perfect example is a cinder block wall. You may be forced to paint the wall—the entire wall. Simply framing the damaged area leaves you (and the vandal) with an ugly blotch.

We have found that pressure washers, using sand, can actually etch a cinder block wall, further hastening the wall’s demise. A wire brush is somewhat limited in effectiveness as well. Our city, instead, uses a power washer with a biodegradable emulsifier approved by our sewer department. In most cases, we have been able to completely remove the vandalism. However in some cases, because of the porous surfaces involved, a slight hazy remnant of the graffiti still remains.

Elbow Grease and the Wire Brush
An inexpensive wire brush is excellent for removing paint from many surfaces. The surface will look like someone has wire brushed it but the vandal’s message will be history. Any surface where you use a wire brush should be a surface, that will over time, weather back to the original color or texture. Every graffiti fighter needs a wire brush in his or her tool kit.

Use the wire brush on: 
Telephone poles
Street curbs
Some rough metals
Smooth stone surfaces
Decorative rocks
Wood fences
Concrete

TIPS ON REMOVAL
1. When you engage in graffiti removal, you become very aware of how much more difficult it is to remove it than it is to apply it. This is especially true in the case of rough, unpainted brick surfaces. Painted surfaces are probably best repainted, though it would be wise to have a supply of graffiti removal solvent ready for rapid response. This is also true because recent graffiti seems to be easier to remove than old graffiti.

2. For surfaces like mailboxes, utility boxes, steel roll-up doors, lampposts, etc., liquid graffiti removal solvent (Savogram) is the way to go. This graffiti should be removed as soon as it appears. This requires only some light duty steel wool, a small spray bottle of solvent, and a cleaner like TSP to wash the area down after removing the graffiti. Very little solvent should be used if the graffiti is recent. Just spray on some solvent, lightly rub with steel wool (or even heavy duty paper towels) and then wipe clean. You’ll want to use rubber gloves and lightly wash the affected area after removing the graffiti. Spray solvent such as Jasco, is not recommended for mailboxes or other painted surfaces since it will cause so much paint to bubble up that the “cleaned” area may look worse than it did with the graffiti.

3. For a brick surface, especially red brick, we recommend a professional cleanup, using a biodegradable emulsifier. This method minimizes the toll on the surface. It is generally too difficult to tackle a very rough surface with wire brushes and solvents, and the finished job will still bear a fair amount of the evidence of the graffiti.

4. For routinely painted surfaces like fences and some wall, it would be wise to have plenty of matching paint available for immediate cover-up within a day or two of the appearance of graffiti. In a business district, we recommend that some standard colors be employed in locations that are graffiti-prone and that an understanding be developed among property owners and business managers to allow for painting over graffiti quickly without having to secure permission from all affected parties. Rapid response is the key and this is only possible if the job is made as easy and automatic as possible.

Graffiti removal is not always a simple “spray it on, wipe it off” affair, especially when it involves brick or other rough surfaces or when paint has been there for a long time. You should expect to encounter examples where the best you can do is reduce the graffiti to an unrecognizable fade, even if it is not possible to completely remove it. Try both solvents if one doesn’t seem to do the trick. Don’t give up too soon. Sometimes, several applications of solvent or allowing to sit for a longer time will take care of things.

For Women-Owned Businesses, Success is Spelled “WBENC”

“When women are economically empowered, they become engines of growth for their communities.”  So says Adele Gulfo, president of Pfizer. And if yours is a woman-owned business, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) has good news—and benefits—for you.

Marcy LaFond, owner of WBENC member on3 Promotional Partners, answers the most-asked questions:

What are the benefits of working with a WBENC supplier?

Increased Revenue:

There are more than 350,000 US companies that have a Supplier Diversity program that are looking to do business with companies that support women-owned businesses. Partnering with these companies can bring your company new business.

Research shows that companies who embrace diversity are more profitable (some are generating more than 130% greater return, according to the Hackett Group’s research results) than companies that do not embrace diversity in its business suppliers. Members from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives avoid “groupthink,” creating greater solutions and creativity. Also, many companies are mandating that as much as 25% of their purchases are allocated to Women’s Business Enterprises.

One longtime WBENC member is Philadelphia’s Team Clean. Donna Allie founded the company on a shoestring, and it now serves a variety of clients in government, education, industry, professional offices, and sports and entertainment venues and events. Among the highlights of Team Clean, Inc.’s growth are clients such as the landmark National Constitution Center, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Let your clients know that you partner with WBENC companies. Include this in your presentations, quotes and sales conversations. It may give you the competitive advantage in their decision-making process to determine who will get the company’s business. Corporations are seeking suppliers that work with WBE’s; this is referred to as 2nd Tier Sourcing.

Tax Incentives:

The federal government provides tax breaks for companies that utilize minority and women-owned businesses as suppliers. There is also a second tax incentive that reduces tax liabilities for companies that use minority and women-owned businesses that supply labor or services to a project funded with federal or state grants or loans. State tax incentives may be available as well.

Additional Benefits:

A Supplier Diversity commitment benefits a company for many additional reasons:

  • Promotes innovation through the entrance of new products, services and solutions
  • Provides multiple channels from which to procure goods and services
  • Drives competition (on price and service levels) between the company’s existing and potential vendors
  • Displays an organization’s commitment to doing business beyond consumerism in diverse markets
  • Showcases the company’s interest in and commitment to the economic growth of all communities.

As small businesses grow, so will our nation’s economy. Since most diverse businesses are small businesses, they aid in the economic recovery and sustainability of their communities. In addition, supplier diversity is important because it provides products and services to emerging consumer markets. While traditional products and services remain available to consumers, demographic shifts create opportunities for diverse suppliers to meet the needs of emerging and shifting populations in the US and across the globe.

Thanks to the WBENC, women-owned businesses not only grow their markets, but corporations can now access quality services and products that meet their requirements. In fact, WBE’s are one of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy, and a key force behind job growth and job creation in the economic recovery.

This article has been edited from the original.

 

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