How Does Anti-Graffiti Coating Work on Buildings?

Clean Exterior on Public Building

Romtec designs buildings for all types of applications across the country, and in some settings, building owners want an anti-graffiti coating applied to their structure. Anti-graffiti coatings sound terrific. You put it on, and spray paint won’t stick to it. It’s just that simple, right? The truth is that there are many different types of anti-graffiti coating products, and the quality and functionality can range significantly. It is important to have experience using an anti-graffiti coating before using it on a building or requesting it from your building designer or contractor. The primary idea to understand is sacrificial versus permanent coatings.

All anti-graffiti coatings try to prevent paint from adhering to the surface of a building or structure. Sacrificial coatings do this by creating a clear polymer, wax, or acrylic layer for the graffiti to get applied. After an area is tagged, maintenance personnel can pressure wash it off by also washing off the anti-graffiti coating. This is what makes it sacrificial. The coating must then be reapplied to protect the surface from future graffiti. Some types of sacrificial coatings can survive 1 or 2 cleanings before needing to be reapplied. Sometimes they are marketed as “semi sacrificial,” but either way, they need to be reapplied by maintenance personnel to remain useful.

Painted CMU Block Interior

Permanent coatings are exactly what they sound like. These types of anti-graffiti coatings only need to be applied one time and resist solvents that can be used to remove most types of paint and markers used in graffiti. Graffiti cannot bond to the surface of the coating and is easily broken down and removed. It is important to use a coating that can resist oil based paints in addition to water based paints. Some types of permanent anti-graffiti coatings are merely hydrophobic and will not resist some types of paint. There is a lot of science that goes into formulating these coatings, but the simplest way to put it is that an ideal permanent coating will resist all types of paint and marker.

Other than how they work, one big difference between sacrificial and permanent coatings is the maintenance cost. Permanent coatings cost more and sometimes a lot more, depending on the type. However, permanent coatings are a one-time cost when the correct type is used. Sacrificial coatings can be a recurring cost for years to come. Most maintenance personnel agree that permanent coatings end up being the significantly cheaper option over the life of a building due to the reduced time and maintenance costs.

Spotless Exterior on Restroom

One final thing to consider when choosing an anti-graffiti coating is experience with the product because they do not all work as described. Some anti-graffiti coatings, especially sacrificial types, can leave a filmy or milky residue on the building, even when labeled as “clear.” These products can make an otherwise nice building look dirty or aged, creating the exact problem the coating is intended to prevent. Other coatings can cure with a slight tint, often times amber or cloudy. This can distort the color of a building to appear other than it should.

The key is to know the anti-graffiti product being used and to have familiarity with its results. If you don’t have experience with a particular product, working with an experienced designer and manufacturer like Romtec will help you get the best anti-graffiti product for your project. To learn more about these options and how they can work with painted, unfinished, and other surfaces, contact Romtec today to learn more about our products and how we can help your project.

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