Peeling off Vandalism

August 17th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

By Chris Collier

Anti-graffiti film serves as a sacrificial barrier meant to control vandalism and offer a cost-efficient alternative to replacing damaged glazing. Common applications include retail storefronts, product displays, schools, transit systems, elevators, vending machines and restroom mirrors. If the film is vandalized, it can be removed and replaced on an as-need basis. Several major film manufacturers offer this type of product, and many are beginning to realize its potential.

Cleaning up the West Coast

Solar Art of Laguna Hills, Calif., recently installed anti-graffiti film on all of the entrances at Nordstrom Santa Monica—a 3,500 square-foot project. Corporate operations manager Chris Cunningham said all of the company’s locations do a combined total of six to seven anti-graffiti jobs a day. It’s been one of the company’s biggest sellers.

“A lot of the markets we service, particularly San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, have a dire need for anti-graffiti film,” Cunningham said. “We save our customers and clients a lot of money by installing the film so they don’t have to replace glass, in some instances, on a semi-monthly basis.”

Cunningham estimates Solar Art has experienced a 20% sales increase in anti-graffiti film during the past year, which has featured several waves of civil unrest and increased vandalism.

“We’ve noticed [vandalism] considerably more frequently,” Cunningham said. “In Seattle, in particular, we’re looking at even newer technologies that will prevent these kinds of things more permanently, because the rate of vandalism, specifically in the Pacific Northwest, has gone through the roof.”

Sundown Window Tinting in Riverside, Calif., regularly visits Kaiser Permanente Hospitals for vandalism clean-up and correction. General manager Zach Feenstra targets the endemic markings with anti-graffiti film.

“We have had a running contract with them for all of the mirrors that they have inside of the hospitals—those are a common target,” Feenstra said. “We have four or five Kaisers that we work with and regularly replace all the mirrors as they get tagged up. We also work with The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in downtown Riverside.”

Multi-Function Film

Concert venues and exhibition centers are frequent areas of application for Solar Art. One common application has saved the company’s clients from having to organize and fund costly replacements.

“Even more commonly, we do stainless-steel elevators,” Cunningham said. “The problem is—you think [replacing] glass is cost prohibitive, you have to look at the cost of replacing steel panels, especially with the cost of raw materials going through the roof of late. We do quite a bit of low-tack, anti-graffiti film on elevators.”

High-end apartment complexes have also been a significant source of jobs for the company.

“You have multimillion dollar apartments,” Cunningham said. “The entryway is significant. You want to make it look as good as new at all points to attract new renters and leasers and uphold the company image.”

Feenstra said his company replaces anti-graffiti film at varying rates.

“It seems to go in phases,” Feenstra said. “The Buffalo Wild Wings across the street—their mirror gets hit up all the time. I’ll do that mirror for them every other week for a little while, and then they’ll go two or three months without needing it.”

Coming and Going

Bryan Roades, commercial sales at Eco-Tint Inc., Las Vegas, Nev., began offering anti-graffiti film 12 years ago after seeing its potential.

“One thing that we offer is a 24-hour replacement on tagged or damaged anti-graffiti film that we installed,” Roades said. “Having the ability to remove tagged or graffitied film within 24 hours reduces the chances of additional glass being tagged by single digits. Beyond 24 hours, that number doubles. Most of these projects are monitored and replaced by us as we see fit which makes it a lot easier to move quickly.”

Forrest Brown, owner of Columbia Film and Graphics in Minneapolis, Minn., said his company offers anti-graffiti film as a complementary product to its safety and security window film line.

“I definitely think that we need to find a way to get more shop owners in the cities to know that this is an option for them,” Brown said. “It really is an awesome product when it works the way it’s supposed to. The Crate and Barrel that we just redid—they had probably six or seven windows that just had spray paint straight across them. You couldn’t see into their space. We
go out there, replace it and now it’s perfectly clear right back into their retail store, as if nothing ever happened.”

Chris Collier is the assistant editor of WINDOW FILM Magazine. Email him at ccollier@glass.com and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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