Protect or Repaint?
During the 1980’s, urban culture began to find new ways of expression in music, dance and art. Tagging became an art form as the talents of the early Generation X’ers combined spray paint and public spaces to promote just about everything. Needless to say. tagging is a nuisance in the vast majority of instances, and over the past 20+ years coating companies have created an array of defenses to (as David Horowitz put it) Fight Back!
The purpose of this monograph is to provide an abridged, but accurate description of the options available to retailers in terms of anti-graffiti coatings.
Serve and protect
Coatings have a function that is more important than color – substrate protection. Coatings do this by providing a thin film (measured in thousandths of an inch) that provides a barrier between the environment and the substrate. This small film is the only thing used to fight graffiti – so it has to be tough, right? Sometimes. Lets explore the types of films used.
Type 1 Permanent
Spray paints are low viscosity solutions laden with hydrocarbon solvents. These
solutions are sprayed onto a surface and the paint converts from a liquid to a solid by means of solvent evaporation (for further explanation, see Monograph titled Film
School). A Type 1 Permanent Anti Graffiti coating’s method is resilience. The film
created by Type 1 coatings are typically 2 component, networked films which dry by
cross-linking. The net result is a film that is both impervious (to combat the low
viscosity penetration of spray paints), as well as chemically resilient. Paint removers can be applied directly to the spray paint with a rag, and removed but the Type 1 coating will remain in-tact. A common assumption is that these coatings make graffiti “fall off” the wall – this is untrue. The system simply works like a dry erase board and is ideal for protecting murals and specialty surfaces like decorative stone.
Type 2 Sacrificial
Type 2 coatings work completely differently. Instead of providing a film that is
networked, hard and chemically resilient, it provides a film that is easily removed!
When spray paint is used over these coatings, a property owner will simply
pressure clean the affected area using tap water. The mechanical force applied by
the water stream will remove the Type 2 coating along with any graffiti that is
sticking to it. After cleaning, the Type 2 coating will need to be re-installed. This is
both time consuming and can be expensive, however is an ideal system for
concrete, stone or brick surfaces where a Type 1 (impervious) coating will not
allow the necessary vapor migration to occur. Think of it like a wax film.
Type 3 is a reality check. Since both Type 1 & Type 2 coatings require a technician visit to remove the graffiti, it is often less money to simply paint over the graffiti with an attic stock of the original coating. Often times, poor record keeping result in technicians painting over graffiti coatings because they are not aware of their presence – this negates any value in either Type 1 and 2 systems.