Protective coatings against graffiti

A surface can be 'protected', making it easier to remove graffiti from it without visible damage. A number of products are available to seal the surface with a protective coating. Council does not endorse any particular product or manufacturer.

The use of protective coatings can:

  • make removal easier and more effective
  • reduce the harmful physical effects of graffiti materials on a surface, and
  • reduce the harmful physical effects of the removal process itself.

There are many variables and points for caution in the match of surface material, coating and removal products. It may not be wise to use permanent coatings on sandstone, especially 'heritage' sandstone. Certain solvents may still be able to easily remove some 'permanent' coatings and some solvents may cause more damage than the graffiti. Broadly, there are two types of coating: sacrificial and non-sacrificial (permanent).

Sacrificial coatings

The sacrificial coating is one that is removed along with the graffiti when it is cleaned from a surface.


  • Often water-based and not as toxic as non-sacrificial coatings, often single-pack and often easy to apply.
  • Should be cheaper, purely on a materials basis, than non-sacrificial coatings.


  • Requires re-application after nearly every graffiti removal attempt.
  • May suffer in very hot climates from slight softening and dirt pick up.

Non-sacrificial (or permanent) coatings

Non-sacrificial coatings are intended to remain in place for a considerable period of time and through repeated removal of graffiti. (It is inevitable that with a number of removal treatments, especially if accompanied by abrasion, the coating will break down and need to be replaced.)


  • Relatively non-toxic removers may be used.
  • The coating will last for many removal attempts.


  • Two-pack system can require careful application and is often more expensive.
  • Individual components of two-pack system may be more toxic than the cured coating.

[Information on removal and prevention of graffiti reproduced with the permission of the Western Australian Premier’s Department].