At some point during the night, a graffiti artist decided to use your garage door as a billboard for their political statement. How dare they!
Now you’re faced with a vandalized door covered in tags and doodles—proving once again that the suburbs are just as likely to be marred by graffiti as the city centre.
The internet will provide you with a list of local cleaning companies who specialize in this type of work, but why not take a crack at it yourself? Below are helpful suggestions on how to tackle the job.
Examine the spray paint
Not all graffiti artists use the same paint and not all spray paint is created equal. Some spray paints are water based and others are oil based. “Taggers”, as graffiti artists are commonly called, often use cheaper paints which are, thankfully, easier to remove. If your tagger used a marking pen with permanent ink, the graffiti will be very stubborn to remove and you should seriously consider repainting the whole door.
Examine the door
Those who have a garage door manufactured with a baked‑on paint, which is usually polyester based, are lucky because the surface is tougher—better able to withstand scrubbing and cleaning without showing the stress. If your garage door was repainted in a paint shop by the company that sold you the door, find out what type of paint they used to do it and how it was applied. Tell them your situation and they can provide guidance. If, alternately, you painted the door yourself, you probably have a half‑empty can of paint lying around somewhere to refresh your memory. In addition, the age of your door is another key factor to consider. Even if the exterior skin of your garage door has a baked‑on paint, its resistance and shine have been weakened by the passage of time and exposure to weather.
Unfortunately, there is a clock on this chore. You want to remove the graffiti within 48 hours—ideally, within the first 24 hours. That will not only discourage the tagger from returning, but it will give you the best shot at removing the paint before it takes hold.
Don’t immediately grab for the most powerful cleaning product on the market. First, start by trying a liquid cleaner—not an abrasive powder—you have around the house. Test a small surface area of the graffiti and see how it works. Apply the cleanser with a firm sponge or soft cloth. At this stage, avoid steel wool, wire brushes and anything used for scouring.
If the graffiti is still sticking to your door, it’s time to try something that packs more wallop. Go ahead and use the abrasive powders and a little more elbow grease. Still, scrub softly and be mindful of the underlying surface.
Raid the bathroom cupboard
If none of the powdered cleaning products work, rummage around in the bathroom cupboard for a bottle of nail polish remover, a.k.a. acetone. It can be a miracle worker.
The use of this product is controversial, but if you decide to use it, take care to wear thick rubber gloves to protect your skin. Environmentalists champion a mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice to clean just about anything—and it might work, with less risk of damaging your door’s original baked‑on paint. As always, test on a discrete area of the graffiti and see if the “greener” solution is effective.
If you don’t have any nail polish remover, another household product to try is paint thinner. Anyone who has ever used oil‑based paints would’ve needed it to clean the brush properly. Additionally, you can try rubbing alcohol or methanol (wood alcohol) on the graffiti, keeping in mind to test a small area—always.
Getting down to business
Unhappy with the results from household liquid soaps, abrasives and acetones? Go for a stronger product. Paint dealers sell specialized paint remover. It takes between 25 and 30 minutes to work. Public works departments often use it to remove graffiti left on metal surfaces, such as road signs, hydro panels, mailboxes and more. This type of product is endorsed by companies who specialize in cleaning off graffiti.
No matter what product you use, remember that it’s nearly impossible to avoid damaging the base coat of paint on your garage door while removing graffiti. Therefore it’s reasonable to consider repainting the door completely, if you want an unmarred look with no “ghost” image of the graffiti lingering on our door.
To repaint or not to repaint?
It’s always a dilemma—put in the DIY work or opt for a simpler solution. Who fancies spending all weekend scouring off graffiti? There are Netflix shows that need watching. If your garage door is getting old, why not cut to the chase and completely repaint it? Perhaps you already have the paint in the basement, so you’re half way home. But first, make sure to thoroughly clean the surface of all traces of dirt, grease and dust. Next, apply a layer of primer.
If your door is from Garaga or has a similar surface, consult our website for the instructions you’ll need to repaint it.
Don’t stop at the garage door…
In the event you decide to repaint, take advantage of this opportunity to coordinate your garage door with your front door. That doesn’t mean the doors have to match perfectly. It means they should be in the same color temperature—warm vs. cool. Some people want their front door to “pop” by downplaying the garage door in a neutral shade, or vice versa.
Go to the websites of major paint companies because most have an online tool to help you imagine different exterior paints on your type of home. Keep in mind the designer trick of keeping double or triple garage doors painted in a light color, while doors less than 10‑feet wide can take a darker color.
Home insurance & vandalism
The best way to know for sure if your policy covers vandalism is to give them a call. Depending on your policy’s deductible, it may or may not be worth it to file a claim. Perhaps you should also think about saying goodbye to the old door.
The upgade option
Is the graffiti incident the inspiration you need to finally change your garage door? If you live near York, contact us now at 717-767-1419, or near Mechanicsburg, at 717-901-4056.
We’d be delighted to provide you with a no‑obligation quotation by email. Come and enjoy our showroom. You can always look at our image gallery for inspiration and use our Design Centre to pick out your favorite style of door.