Once again the taggers have hit my mural, and I’m sure this will continue as long is it remains unfinished. One of my procrastinations, however, is that I am still searching for a suitable protective coating. Ideally I would like to apply this finish immediately upon completion.
After much internet searching on anti-graffiti coatings, the only congruency I can find is that no product is a “fix all”. They depend in part on how long the graffiti will stay on the wall before it is removed. As long as I am the caretaker, this will happen immediately.
I did find a very informative website written by the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA), which stresses specifically against using varnish. Polyurethane will also destroy the paint. The current trend of protecting larger murals relies on the use of sacrificial coatings. These waxy sealers are aptly named because spray paint is removed along with the finish. The paint adheres to the surface of the coating, and after a week or so of curing, the area is pressure washed clean, leaving the mural intact. The coating must then be reapplied. Anyone with a budget can hire various companies to wash and respray whenever graffiti strikes.
Since my expenses must be considerably less, I am searching for a permanent, or non-sacrificial, coating that doesn’t require reapplication. According to different sources, fresh spray paint is easily cleaned, providing there is some sort of barrier between the graffiti and mural. MCLA also recommends soluvar as the “varnish of the future,” and is currently used to conserve museum paintings. It seems that any acrylic varnish will be a good solution. A gel medium has been suggested as an additional layer between the painting and protective sealant.
When I find an applicable product that is less than $200 per gallon, I will post it here!
In the mean time, I discovered that Philadelphia has over 3000 murals, due to funding from the city’s anti-graffiti initiative, the Mural Arts Progam. You can see more of the beautiful paintings here.
They are impressive, but LA still boasts the longest mural in the world, the Great Wall of Los Angeles.