Every year, building operators and security officers spend valuable time and resources planning and implementing dedicated measures to prevent structural graffiti damage. Despite a renewed focus on preventative strategies, reports of graffiti damage in the U.S. have steadily increased. Remarkably, ongoing damage has resulted in an estimated $12 billion being spent on the removal and cleaning of graffiti annually.

Often considered a victimless crime, the presence of graffiti can do immense harm to homes and businesses. As graffiti is commonly associated with criminal activity, it often affects an individual’s perception of the building. This perception – whether accurate or inaccurate – can ultimately deter potential customers from visiting a business, leading to less foot traffic and revenue loss.

While it’s almost impossible to stop all graffiti vandalism, there are methods you can implement to prevent damage caused by potential offenders. Most importantly, proactive graffiti mitigation can save building owners from the costly and time-consuming process of cleaning and restoring exterior walls and windows. Best practices for prevention include:

  • Surface Protection Films: Surface protection films offer a layer of protection to windows, which can be one of the most difficult areas for graffiti removal. In addition to being more fragile than wall surfaces, areas including windows, mirrors and graphics are expensive to replace. Surface protection films provide a barrier for most scratches, acid etching, gouges and graffiti to help maintain a building’s aesthetics. Additionally, surface protection films are easily replaceable and are considerably less expensive than new glass.
  • Flood Lights: One of the most cost-effective methods for deterring graffiti vandals is through the installation of floodlights. As statistics indicate that most graffiti vandalism occurs at night, floodlights can add an extra layer of security through the illusion that someone may be watching. Motion sensor lights can also be applied to flood lights for a second level of protection. With improving technology, the range of most sensors can extend upwards of more than 60 feet, in a 180-degree pattern.
  • Security Cameras: The installation of security cameras offers a two-fold solution for building security as it adds an extra level of surveillance. Ultimately, the mere presence of security cameras can intimidate a potential offender from “tagging” a building. Additionally, if someone does tag your property, the footage of the incident can be recorded and sent to the authorities for investigation.
  • Anti-Graffiti Paint: Anti-graffiti paint is a protective coating that can prevent the materials used for tagging from bonding to a building’s surface. Anti-graffiti paints are available in three different coatings:
    • Sacrificial coatings: When applied, sacrificial coatings form a clear layer over the desired surface. If the surface is vandalized, the coating is removed or sacrificed with a pressure washer, along with graffiti. Once the graffiti is removed, another coating will need to be reapplied to the surface.
    • Semi-sacrificial coatings: Commonly referred to a safety shield, this product is a penetrating sealer. When applied, semi-sacrificial coating is used to protect the surface pores of a wall. If the surface happens to get vandalized, this coating can be easily removed with a combination of graffiti removal cleaner and a pressure washer. After the graffiti has been removed, an additional coating is suggested to protect the surface from erosion.
    • Permanent coatings: Created to form a protective barrier, permanent coatings don’t allow spray paint to bond to the surface. If vandalized, graffiti cleaner is only needed for removal. While permanent coatings are typically more expensive, if cleaned correctly, only one coat is needed.
  • Barriers: Building a barrier, such as hedges, ivy, shrubbery or a fence, can prevent vandals from easily accessing the walls to a facility. The additional effort it takes to climb over or around these barriers often forces potential vandals to abandon their efforts or turn their attention elsewhere.

In the security industry, it’s imperative to take a proactive approach to prevent vandalism like graffiti. Before implementing any new solution, it’s important to review all applicable policies governing graffiti prevention methods to ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations. Fortunately, regardless of what preventive method is implemented, building owners can take an important and vital step to maintain their business and reputation.