Even if you live in a “good” area, you still have the risk of graffiti tarnishing your property. Once you see it, your first instinct is how to remove it. Here is what you need to know when you want to get rid of graffiti, by painting over or removing it.


Before putting any time into removing graffiti, check and see if it’s actually your job. For homeowners, graffiti removal may be a service provided by your local government or Homeowners Association (HOA). You may also want to report the graffiti to local law enforcement, as they may want to photograph and document the vandalism before you begin removing it.

Removing Graffiti

There are a variety of graffiti cleaners and solvents available at the hardware store, depending on the surface you are removing it from. You’ll want to get started on removing the graffiti within 24-48 hours to get the best results. When working with graffiti removers, pay attention to the surrounding area as landscaping can be damaged by the harsh chemicals. Try testing a small patch first to make sure you’re not worsening the problem by adding a solvent. Also, make sure you always use proper eye protection, wear a mask and cover the ground with tarps or trash bags.

Tips for Smooth surfaces

  • Metal – try wiping the graffiti first with a paint thinner or a light penetrating oil, then moving on to a small amount of graffiti remover if that doesn’t work. Use a ball of steel wool to lightly scrub it off, being careful to not scratch the surface. Painted metal surfaces are the most difficult to remove graffiti since the original paint job will bubble and crack under the solvent.
  • Glass – start with just soap and warm water. In many cases, latex paint can be soaked and then scraped away, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals.
  • Plastic – approach this in a similar way as metal but avoid paint thinner as this can soften the plastic and cause permanent tackiness on the surface.

Porous and Rough surfaces

  • Wood – if the wood is sealed, try to remove the graffiti by wiping it with mineral spirits. If the wood is not sealed, don’t do this as the chemicals will be absorbed by the wood. Instead, use a power washer to drive the paint out of the wood.
  • Other porous surfaces (brick, concrete, etc.) – use a solvent specifically made for the surface and scrub with a wire brush, checking the surface often to make sure you’re not causing any damage. After letting the solvent work for a few minutes, use a power washer to remove all residue.


If none of the above removal methods work, it may be easiest to just repaint the surface to cover the graffiti. This can cause the least damage to the surface. Getting an exact color match is difficult, so it’s helpful if you have leftover paint from when you painted the surface originally. Otherwise, you may end up needing to repaint the entire surface to cover the graffiti spot.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by removing or repainting graffiti, Arizona Painting Company can help! We offer services including power washing, repairing and painting graffitied surfaces. Give us a call today to get your home or commercial building back to looking beautiful!