August 30, 2019

5 Tips to MacGyver the graffiti off your garage door

What’s that on the garage door? Pulling the car into the driveway, your eyes go straight to an image spray painted on the door. It’s a hot pink elephant riding a skateboard.

The nerve of those graffiti artists! How dare they vandalize your property—in hot pink, no less. You’d expect this kind of thing in the city, but in a quiet bedroom community? Apparently taggers know how to ride the commuter trains.

Graffiti on my garage door

Instead of calling the cops and venting about young people these days, you have two options: enlist the help of a professional cleaning company to disappear the problem; or try to remove the graffiti yourself with a little elbow grease.

First things first

Assess the damage. Is it sizable? Depending on the amount of graffiti and the width of your garage door, it could take all weekend to remove the paint. If that’s daunting, review your insurance policy. Even better, call up the insurance company and ask if you’re covered for graffiti removal under the provision for damage. Depending on your policy’s deductible, it may or may not be worth it to file a claim. Still, it’s good to know your options when faced with a chore that will eat up all of your free time. Maybe it’s time for a new door anyway.

What type of spray paint was used?

5 tips

Read our top 5 tips on how to MacGyver the graffiti off your garage door:

  • Time is ticking. Discourage graffiti artists from making a repeat performance by erasing their work as soon as possible. Get outside to tackle the challenge within 48 hours, preferably in the first 24 hours. Speed is not only a deterrent but it’s also a strategy to remove the paint before it sets in.
  • Start using common household cleaners. Before spending money on costly cleaning products, try to remove the graffiti with things you already have around the house. Test small areas and resist the urge to attack the graffiti with scouring pads or wire brushes. Simple liquid detergents remove water‑based spray paints. Then move up to mineral spirits, paint thinner, methanol (wood alcohol), rubbing alcohol or acetone (think nail polish remover). And don’t forget to try the oven cleaner! Remember to wear gloves when using the more abrasive cleansers. “Green” activists and wise grandmothers will tell you that a mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice will give you the same results without all the branding and packaging. As always, make a test on a small area of the graffiti and see if it is effective.
  • Use a pressure washer. Power washers are so much fun! You can rent one from a home renovation store or borrowed from the guy next door who’s giving you the stink eye about the graffiti. Start using a low pressure, then build as needed. However, it will only push the paint deeper into aged or untreated wood. If the pressure washer doesn’t get you anywhere…
  • Hit the paint store for a professional product. When household cleaners aren’t enough, graduate to a more specialized product. Through a paint dealer, you can buy a serious paint remover. It’s the same product that many public works departments use to remove graffiti left on metal surfaces, such as road signs. This type of product is also used by companies specialized in removing graffiti. Read the instructions carefully and be aware that you will probably damage the base coat of paint under the graffiti.
What type of spray paint was used?
  • Look closer. Did the tagger use water‑based or oil‑based paint? Graffiti artists often buy cheaper paint, which is (unintentionally) easier to remove. If the tagger used permanent ink or a stubborn enamel, it’s much more difficult to remove. The condition of your door, underneath, is another consideration. Is the door wood, metal or something else? What type of paint is your door covered with under the graffiti? If it was manufactured with a baked‑on paint with a polyester base, it’s more resistant. If you had it repainted at a professional paint shop, call and ask what they used and how was it applied. Knowing what’s underneath will help you use the right product. Also, assessing the age of the door is critical. Even if the exterior skin of your garage door has a professionally baked-on paint, it can lose its shine and resistance over time—thus making it more vulnerable to scrubbing agents.

If these tips don’t do the trick…

After following the above advice, can you still see the hot pink elephant? Then consider repainting. If your garage door has seen better days, and maybe mildew, it may be smarter to just repaint it than try to remove graffiti. That will save you some frustration, at the very least. Remember to give the door a good cleaning to remove surface grease and dust first, then apply a high-quality primer and wait for it to dry thoroughly before adding a coat of paint. It must be exterior paint, if it’s going to compete with Mother Nature.

Owners of a Garaga door—or a door with a similar surface—should refer to our website for the instructions you’ll need to repaint it. The major paint makers have an online visualize tool for exterior paint on their websites, so you can experiment with colour combinations and find the perfect look to complement your front door. Designers will tell you that double and triple garage doors look best in light or neutral shades, while smaller doors can be painted a deeper shade. Keep accent colours—burgundy, navy, emerald green—for the front door.

When it’s time for a change

That unsightly graffiti could be the inspiration you need to finally replace the garage door. Use the momentum. If you live in Greater Toronto Area, contact us at 416-239-7777. We give no‑obligation quotations by email.

Or visit our showroom and use our Design Centre to select the style of door that best suits your home—from traditional and heritage to contemporary. Our image gallery is a great source of inspiration.

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