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The City of Sault Ste. Marie



A Guide to Removal

It is a good idea to check with your local paint store prior to using products and don't forget manufacturers directions.

Non-Sensitive Surfaces
  • Paint over the graffiti with primer first
  • Paint the surface with an appropriate colour
  • Let the paint dry before attempting a second coat
Brick and Cement
  • Consider contacting a contractor who can soda blast the surface
  • Be aware that soda blasting may leave a shadow
  • Paint over stucco using an appropriate colour
  • If you do not want to paint, pressure washing and soda blasting may be used
  • Pressure washing may chip the stucco or leave a shadow
Metal, Aluminum Siding, and Fiberglass
  • Use graffiti wipes or spray
  • These chemicals can be purchased at most paint stores
  • Follow manufacturer's instructions. Make sure to test a small area first
Glass and Plexiglass
  • Do not use solvents such as acetone, sili-cone spray, or laquer thinner because they attack the surface
  • Use graffiti wipes or spray
  • Make sure to pretest the surface on a hidden area
  • A growing trend in graffiti is the use of stickers, such as "Hello My Name Is" stickers
  • Remove as much of the sticker as possible
  • Nail polish remover, lighter fluid, or wipes can be used to remove residue

More Tips

Safety Glasses
Safety glasses keep paints, solvents, and dust from entering the eyes. Never compromise eye safety.

Cleaning Smooth Surfaces
Test an inconspicuous area of the surface with your cleaning material. Most modern signs clean quickly. Start by cleaning with soap and water first then proceed to solvents.

Cleaning Rough Surfaces
Many times paint on a rough surface causes permanent damage. It is virtually impossible to remove all of the paint from a porous surface. A perfect example is a cinder block wall. You may be forced to paint the wall - the entire wall. Simply framing the damaged area leaves you (and the vandal) with an ugly blotch. Our city, instead, uses a power washer with a biodegradable emulsifier approved by our sewer department. In most cases, we have been able to completely remove the vandalism. However in some cases, because of the porous surfaces involved, a slight hazy remnant of the graffiti still remains.

Elbow Grease and the Wire Brush
An inexpensive wire brush is excellent for removing paint from many surfaces. The surface will look like someone has wire brushed it but the vandal's message will be history. Use the wire brush on:
  • Telephone poles
  • Street curbs
  • Some rough metals
  • Smooth stone surfaces
  • Decorative rocks
  • Wood fences
Reminder: When painting, do not just cover the tag. Small patches look bad and invite taggers back. Choose a top line and cover the wall down to the ground. You do not necessarily have to paint the entire wall, but make sure that it looks professional.

Required Tools

  • Aerosol solvent
  • Clean cotton painters rags
  • Garbage bags
  • Inexpensive paint brushes, rollers & containers
  • Paint scraper
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Kitchen cleaner and water in spray bottle


  • Minimizing graffiti on your property begins with keeping the property clean and well maintained.
  • Fencing, increased lighting, and motion sensor lighting contribute to reducing crime.
  • For vulnerable walls, use clinging vegetation, like ivy, to eliminate large writing surfaces. Consider vegetation that has thorns as they will also act as a deterrent.
  • If your property has been tagged, rapid removal reduces the chance of being tagged again.
  • If your building has a sensitive surface, such as brick or stucco, consider applying a protective anti-graffiti coating. Have a neighbourhood meeting to discuss solutions.
  • Form a neighborhood graffiti removal crew.
  • Adopt a street, park, school, church, or business that is a target for graffiti.
  • Involve young people in the cleanup.

A Message from the Police

Working Together to Reduce Crime

The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service is committed to working together with our community partners to make our City a better place to live. We will continue to focus on strengthening our relationships with community stakeholders and our youth while utilizing our resources to provide strong investigative, enforcement and crime prevention programs.

If you see Graffiti Vandalism in progress, call 911.

If you believe the graffiti is hate related, contact the police immediately at 705-949-6300. Do not remove hate graffiti without first contacting Police.

If you have information regarding Graffiti Vandalism, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or text keyword SSM along with your tip to 274637.

Graffiti Inventory Pilot Project

The Committee of Council on Graffiti was established to address and find ways to manage and mitigate nuisance graffiti in Sault Ste. Marie. After reviewing the best practices from other communities, City staff concluded that a graffiti inventory could be beneficial. The goal of this pilot project was to inventory nuisance graffiti (i.e. tags) and commissioned art, to focus on art education and to mitigate vandalism, including business owner awareness on prevention and removal. Partnering with the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre's Community Geomatics Centre, ESRI's Collector Application, along with ArcGIS Online, were utilized to complete the project. A small area of the downtown core was canvassed and over 420 instances of graffiti were recorded, including descriptive information and a photo. The information was then utilized to identify hotspots within the study area.

View the Graffiti Inventory Pilot Project
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Sault Ste. Marie, ON
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