Graffiti Tips

Tanglewood-Hillsdale Community Association’s Neighbourhood Watch[1] encourages all of us to take a personal interest in our neighbourhood.   Whether residing in the apartment building, single, semi-detached, detached or townhouse homes, you and I can be aware of graffiti,  we can prevent it, we can report it and we can help to remove it.

What is graffiti?                                                                                                                                                                                                            Graffiti  is an etching, painting or a mark placed on public or private property.  The most common type of graffiti in the Tanglewood-Hillsdale is “tagging”:  writing, ir painting of an identifiable symbolic character, a signature or “tag” that may or may not contain letters.  It can be found on such surfaces as overpasses, walls, or  street signs and utility boxes.  When placed on public, business or private property it is an act of vandalism.

It may be motivated by bias or prejudice favorable or against such attributes as race, ethnic origin, nation, colour, language, religion, gender, sex orientation, disability.

What is a graffiti tagger?

A graffiti tagger is someone who adopts a nickname or signature and places that signature on objects in the form of graffiti. The goal of some tagger is to place as many signatures in as many high profile or challenging-to-reach locations as possible.

How to Prevent It?

To deter graffiti vandals and prevent graffiti from occurring or recurring in our neighbourhood and/or on your property, there are some simple methods that our community demonstrates that we care about the community in which you and I reside.

How to Remove It

If you are a victim of graffiti, it is important that you remove it as soon as possible – ideally within 48 to 72 hours. Why?

How should graffiti be removed?

Different solutions will work more effectively on different surfaces.

It is important to remember that these methods are guidelines only. The City of Ottawa does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Web site and is not responsible in any way for damages arising out of the use of removal methods described on this Web site.

Removal Tips

Always consult a professional before attempting to remove graffiti. See “Graffiti Removal” in the yellow pages or at

If you do attempt to remove graffiti yourself, please keep in mind:

How should graffiti be removed?

The most common methods of graffiti removal include:

  1. Chemical removal This entails using a chemical solvent and water to remove the graffiti.      Chemical solvents are effective on most surfaces. It is always advised to consult a professional when preparing to use a chemical graffiti remover.      Improper removal can imbed graffiti or cause further damage to your property.
  1. Pressure Washing This removes graffiti by applying hot water under pressure. Power washing is most effective when used in conjunction with a chemical solvent and an abrasive suitable to the surface you are working on. Pressure washing is best for brick, stone, stucco, aluminium and vinyl surfaces.
  1. Paint over On painted surfaces; painting over graffiti is a low-cost removal method.      Be sure to colour match the paint to the surface, apply a primer to prevent graffiti from leaching through and cover as much of the surface as you can. A patchwork of paint is an ideal canvas for graffiti vandals and  may attract additional graffiti. Paint over is only recommended for previously painted wood, metal and plastic surfaces, or if other removal  techniques are unsuccessful.

[1] [1] Material for this factsheet was adapted from Neighbourhood Watch website and the Ottawa Police website.