Graffiti Removal Program

The City of Fayetteville offers a Graffiti Removal Program to residents and businesses citywide to address the unlawful and constant problem of graffiti in our community. The property owner may contract with the City to remove the graffiti if they have been victimized. Graffiti generates a negative image for the community and public support is needed to make this program a successful effort. The City is trying to keep Fayetteville clean and beautiful consistent with City Council’s goal of a “More Attractive City – Clean and Beautiful”.

This program is designed to educate and encourage the residents of the City to promptly report graffiti violations. If a person witnesses the graffiti “tagger” in action, the person is asked to call 911, but if the graffiti is already present, contact the Development Services Code Enforcement Complaint line at 910-433-1056. This will assist the City Police and Development Services Departments with creating a graffiti database in order to identify violation trends and locations where graffiti is common.

Graffiti Removal:

The owner of a property that has been tagged by graffiti is asked to immediately remove the graffiti to deter future vandalism. When the City becomes aware of the existence of graffiti on any property, the city is authorized to remove the graffiti after giving written notice and opportunity to the property owner to remove the graffiti. If the property owner fails to remove or effectively obscure the graffiti within 10 days from receipt of the notice, the City will take action to remove or effectively obscure the graffiti at the cost of the property owner for all expenses incurred by the City for the removal. This citation amount includes a $250 administration fee in addition to the removal fee assessed. Failure to comply with the removal can also result in a civil penalty being issued in the amount of $100.

If the property owner has not received a notice or citation from the City, they are encouraged to immediately remove the graffiti before they do. The property owner will only be responsible for paying the cost of removing the graffiti.

The property owner may contract with the City of Fayetteville to remove the graffiti. The property owner must sign a waiver of liability form stating the City of Fayetteville will not be held liable for any losses, claims, or damages that result from the graffiti removal process. A program application must also be completed and a removal fee of $100 must be received by the Development Services Department before a property can be scheduled for graffiti removal. A new application and fee will be required for each additional incident that may occur on a property. This fee will be waived and the removal service will be offered at no cost for properties located within the municipal services district (MSD) in downtown Fayetteville.

In most cases graffiti can be removed or covered up by property owners with little cost so the City will also provide tips on how the property owner can remove the graffiti quickly, effectively, and safely on their own. A property owner can also be proactive and reduce the effort involved with graffiti removal by coating a building with an anti-graffiti coating product to prevent graffiti paint from sticking to surfaces. This type of product is used nationally and can have up to a seven year warranty. There are also other things a property owner can do to deter graffiti.

Tips to Deter Graffiti:

If a property is easily accessible or frequently tagged for graffiti, there are a number of things that can be done to deter graffiti by taking away the “blank canvas” preferred by the graffiti artist and making the property less desirable and accessible to them. Some of these include:

  • Increase lighting or use motion-activated lights around the property.
  • Install security cameras.
  • Install a clear boundary, such as a locked fence between the property and public property.
  • Plant a hedge, shrubs, ivy or other clinging vegetation along the wall or fence.
  • Join a local neighborhood watch group and place the signs around the property.
  • Have a mural painted on an area being targeted. It could be a form of advertising for a business.
  • Protect exposed areas by applying an anti-graffiti protective coating that provides a barrier between the surface and the graffiti. Several different brands and prices are available.
  • When painting, consider darker paint colors that are less attractive to graffiti artists.
  • Remove graffiti as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. One tag tends to attract others.

Graffiti Removal Tips:

The following tips are for various types of surfaces. There is not one overall solution for graffiti removal. A product’s effectiveness will depend upon the type of surface and the substance used for the graffiti removal. The City does not endorse specific brands of products, but will reference brand names to help the property owner identify graffiti removal materials and supplies.

Downtown Historic Properties and other Historic Structures:

  • Contact the City’s Historic Property Manager, Bruce Daws at 910-433-1457 to discuss the best option to remove graffiti quickly, effectively and safely to prevent damage to the structure’s surface.
  • Graffiti removal from historic structures should always begin with the gentlest means possible. There are a variety of removal techniques that are chosen according to the type of graffiti and the masonry of the structure. These techniques range from simply erasing penciled graffiti with soft erasers, removing chalked graffiti with soft brushes, to using an organic solvent and several other methods that the historic property manager may recommend.
  • In any case, sandblasting is not an option for removing graffiti on a historic structure. Power washing, if not done correctly at a low pressure, can also damage a fragile historic structure. So it is to the historic property owner’s advantage to get advice on the best graffiti removal option prior to any attempts to remove the graffiti.

Metal Surfaces:

  • Wipe the graffiti with any common paint thinner such as mineral spirits, lacquer thinner or acetone or try graffiti removal products such as “Goof Off”. Sometimes a light, penetrating oil such as “WD-40” or “Three-in-One” will remove it.
  • If the graffiti remains, try rubbing with steel or bronze wool, or light sandpaper.
  • If the graffiti still remains, try power-washing it with a 3,000 psi pressure washer.
  • If none of these methods work, paint over the graffiti.

Wood Surfaces:

  • If the wood is not weathered and sealed with paint, stain or sealer, try to remove the graffiti by wiping it with mineral spirits. If the wood is weathered, do not use this technique, as the mineral spirits will be absorbed by the wood, driving the paint further down into the wood.
  • Power-washing with a 3,000 psi pressure washer can be used, however, observe carefully to make sure the pressure is not driving the paint deeper into the wood grain.
  • If these methods do not work, sand the wood and re-paint or simply paint over the graffiti.

Plastic Surfaces:

  • Wipe the graffiti with a light, penetrating oil such as “WD-40” or “Three-in-One”. Do not use paint thinners as they can soften the plastic and cause clouding (if clear plastic) or permanent tackiness of the surface.
  • Sometimes a light rubbing with ultra-fine steel or bronze wool will remove the paint.
  • If these methods do not work, paint over it.

Masonry Surfaces:

  • The best option for this type of surface is to power-wash with a 3,000 psi pressure washer. Be careful in selecting the type of tip to use in the pressure wand. Too narrow of a tip (such as 0 degree) will etch the masonry surface leaving a perfect outline of the graffiti removed.
  • Sand-blasting is another removal option, but not recommended for any building, especially historic buildings due to the damage it may cause to the structure. If the structure is in a fragile condition, then only further damage will be caused. As with pressure washing, you must be careful not to allow the sandblasting tip to remain in one spot too long as it can permanently etch the surface. If you do attempt this option on a non-historic structure, be sure to keep the tip moving over the painted area and the surrounding area so as to blend in the surface.

Glass Surfaces:

  • The best method to use is a razor blade to carefully scrape it off. This method is 99% effective. Use the razor blade in a holder and scrape at a 30-degree angle to the glass.
  • If the paint does not come completely off using the razor blade, use ultra-fine bronze wool with water to gently rub the remaining paint off.
  • You can use paint thinners on glass, however the razor blade method is much quicker and more environmentally friendly.

Always read product labels and follow all manufacturer instructions and recommendations. Most of the products identified above are flammable so use caution and follow safety instructions. Always use proper safety clothing and equipment (including gloves and safety glasses). It is recommended that a small test area be done prior to a full application of any product.

For more information or to talk with a city staff person about applying for graffiti removal services or graffiti removal tips, please call Development Services at 910-433-1701.

Link to brochure: Graffiti Removal Program

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