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Removing Graffiti from Historic Masonry (Part C)

By The Old House Web

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Before selecting a removal method, all cleaning materials and techniques for removing graffiti from a historic masonry building should be tested on mock-ups or areas of the resource that are not highly visible, but which are representative of typical conditions. Visual observation should be supplemented by the use of a magnifying glass, and spot tests should be carried out with various solvents to help identify the specific graffiti medium, which will aid in its removal. More complex testing using laboratory equipment and more scientific analytical processes may sometimes be necessary in complex situations. Sample areas that represent the desired degree of"cleanliness" should be approved in writing by client, architect, conservator or other appropriate authority. The materials and all the other data necessary to reproduce the desired cleaning results should be meticulously recorded and the accepted sample area preserved for reference until the end of the job. The existence of a "clean" sample for comparison and a signed agreement can avoid unpleasant surprises, misunderstandings,and perhaps legal actions.

When a type of graffiti appears for the first time that was executedwith a material not immediately recognizable and for which no countermeasures have been developed, tests may need to be carried out by an architectural conservator to identify the material and to determine effective removal treatments. Agencies with large inventories of graffiti-prone buildings and structures should watch for graffiti made with new materials and experiment with different cleaning methods in order to be prepared when it appears.Such early action can save large sums of money in the long term. (See "Development of a Treatment Plan.")

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