August 30, 2019

The graffiti blues - When your garage door gets an unwanted tattoo!

One morning, your home’s curb appeal took a nosedive. What happened? A graffiti artist turned their attention to your garage door.

And they weren’t discrete. The big letters are clearly visible from the street—be it a sleepy suburban avenue or a busy city artery. Either way, it’s like waking up with an unwanted tattoo.

Graffiti on my garage door

Instead of stewing about it, it’s time to consider the options for how to handle the situation. Sympathy from the neighbours only goes so far, then action is required. It’s best to remove graffiti within 24 to 48 hours, for the least resistance and frustration.

Of course, there are companies who specialize in graffiti removal. These professionals will make your problem go away—for a cost—or you can apply some so‑called elbow grease. Specialized retailers like hardware stores carry an array of tough cleaning products that may help. Before you begin, here are some tips to tackle the job:

Start simple: spray wash

Before applying an arsenal of harsh chemicals to your garage door, try a pressure washer. They are available for rent from home renovation stores, but a neighbor might let you borrow theirs for this occasion. If you’re lucky, it might wash away the problem.

However, keep in mind the three “ifs”:

What type of spray paint was used?
  1. If your door is made of treated wood or it’s sealed with a stain, begin by soaking a washcloth with a liquid household cleaner. Next, applying the cloth to the graffiti. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Standing two feet from the door, start straying with a medium pressure at the top of the door—left to right—and work down methodically. Take your time.
  2. If that isn’t doing the trick, try a stronger cleaning product with an abrasive agent. Next, graduate to mineral spirits, bleach (1:4 ratio with water), then diluted paint thinner. If none of those common chemicals work, it’s time to invest in a specially‑formulated graffiti removal product.
  3. If your garage door is aged or made of untreated wood or recycled barn board, be mindful to use very light water pressure or else the force will drive the paint deeper into the wood. Test a small area. Instead of increasing the water pressure, switch tactics: apply a cleaning product using a thick brush, a wallpaper paste brush or a plush paint roller, then wipe by hand. It will take more time, but it will save your wood from having a ghost image of the graffiti.

Know your enemy

Graffiti artists tend to be loyal to their favourite paint, but there are many different kinds of liquids and strays on the market. You’re in luck if you were tagged with a water‑based spray paint, but many artists use oil‑based paint applied by brush or spray can.

The point is to be aware of the full menu of paint options, from enamels and polyurethanes to vinyl, acetates, alkyds and permanent markers. With the latter, it’s best to throw in the towel and paint over graffiti. (More on that below). Determining the kind of spray paint on your door will help you buy the right cleaning product to use with the power washer or by hand.

Know your door

Your heritage home’s original wooden door from 1910 is not the same thing as a factory‑made garage door with baked‑on paint—most often polyester based. The latter is much more resistant. If your garage door was repainted in a paint shop by the company that sold you the door, ask them what type of paint was used. Alternately, if you’re a DIY type, you probably painted the door yourself a few years ago and still have the can in the basement.

Metal matters

Metal doors can take a lot of abuse. That’s why they’re popular. Taggers like the shine of a metal door and often try to make their mark. Luckily for anyone with a metal garage door, graffiti is easier to remove than on porous, aged wood, or a slickly‑painted new coat of colour that’s easy to disturb.

First, try wiping graffiti with any common paint thinner, mineral spirits, methanol, rubbing alcohol, lacquer thinner or acetone (think nail polish remover). Don’t worry about diluting it, but be sure to protect your hands with rubber gloves. Next, try a light penetrating oil like WD40. If you still aren’t seeing results, rub the area with steel or bronze wool or light sandpaper, then power washing from a distance of two feet, working top to bottom, using a 3000psi pressure washer.

What type of spray paint was used?

Failing that, a paint dealer can sell you a stronger paint remover that takes between 25 and 30 minutes to work. It’s the same product that many public works departments use to remove graffiti left on metal road signs. This type of product is also used by companies who specialize in removing graffiti.

In all of these cases, note that if you use this type of professional‑grade product, you will most likely cause damage to the base coat of paint on your garage door to some extent. Depending how fussy you are about the outcome, you may need to completely repaint the door.

Repair and repaint

In a way, the graffiti artist did you a favour. Let’s face it—you stopped noticing your garage door years ago and it was starting to look worse for the wear.

Instead of spending all day juggling cleaning products, why not repaint? For the best outcome, clean any dirt and grease off the surface. Next, apply a primer to make sure the graffiti is adequately covered before moving onto the top coat.

If your door is from Garaga or is a door with a similar surface, then refer to our website for the instructions you’ll need to repaint it.

Repainting a garage door is an excellent opportunity to refresh your home’s overall look by coordinating the garage door with the front door. That doesn’t mean the doors have to be matchy‑matchy. It means they should be in the same colour family (warm vs. cool) to best offset or coordinate. Some people want their front door to “pop” by downplaying the garage door in a neutral shade, or vice versa.

To help imagine the outcome, there are visualizer tools on the websites of most major paint manufacturers. These tools allow people to see a recreation of their type of home with various exterior paint colours. It cuts down on guess work.

Wake‑up call: change your garage door!

After you’ve stood on the driveway eyeballing the graffiti situation, maybe you’re inspired to update your garage door. The time is now! If you live near Lindsay, ON, contact us now at 705-324-1005.

We provide no‑obligation quotations by email. Alternately, come to our showroom and use our Design Centre to peruse door styles on our image gallery. You just might get inspired!

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