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CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS for signs with or without the “Anti-Graffiti” Overlay

  • ALWAYS start with mild soap and water.  If, and ONLY if soap & water results are unsuccessful,
    • try denatured alcholol, a very mild glass, a mild GP cleaner or Goof-Off™ (or other respected brand of “Graffiti Removal” product) or other NON-ABRASIVE cleaner; NEVER use “Ajax”, “Comet” or similar abrasive products
    • ALWAYS perform a “test cleaning” on an inconspicuous portion of the sign and observe results before proceeding with the remainder of the sign
  • ALWAYS use a soft cotton cloth. Do NOT use paper towels and NEVER any type of abrasive pad
  • Allow time for the cleaner to “soak in”; let the soap or cleaner do its work
  • NEVER “scrub” or press hard with the cotton cloth
    • Scrubbing will scratch the surface and, although it may remove the foreign matter, the sign often looks worse!
    • In addition, pressure from scrubbing can also damage the reflective beads or prismatic cells and significantly reduce the reflectivity of the sign

Typical Results (what you can usually expect after cleaning signs using the recommended cleaning methods above, for signs made using the following grades of reflective sheeting and overlay)

  • Engineer Grade signs without “Anti-Graffiti” Overlay
    • Dirt: Extremely good results
    • Grease, Oil, Crayons and other non-permanent markers: Fair to Medium results
    • Paint, Ink and other Permanent Markers: Poor results - sheeting is often permanently discolored
  • High Intensity Prismatic and Diamond Grade signs without “Anti-Graffiti” Overlay
    • Dirt: Excellent results
    • Grease, Oil, Crayons and other non-permanent markers: Extremely good results
    • Paint, Ink and other Permanent Markers: Fair results – slight discoloring of the sheeting sometimes remains
  • Signs made using any of the 3 grades of reflective sheeting and WITH “Anti-Graffiti” Overlay
    • Dirt: Excellent results; “like new”
    • Grease, Oil, Crayons and other non-permanent markers: Excellent results; “like new”
    • Paint, Ink and other Permanent Markers: Very good results – discoloration remains only with the harshest graffiti



We offer anti-graffiti acrylic overlay for customers that need the maximum protection available against vandalism and graffiti. This clear acrylic material is laminated to the entire sign face surface and provides a barrier against most spray paints, inks, permanent markers etc.  It also provides excellent protection against grease, oil, dirt and many chemicals including most agricultural and pest control sprays.

Although 3M’s overlay will NOT completely protect a sign against a very determined vandal using

  • certain indelible markers and paints *
  • some acids and extremely harsh chemicals *
  • a knife or other sharp object
  • a firearm

nor will it provide 100% protection against

  • hurricane force winds with blowing sand and debris *
  • blunt force, including vehicle accidents and blows from rocks, baseball bats etc.,

it will provide the maximum available protection against most graffiti attacks and most of what “Mother Nature” has to offer.

* although the overlay film provides a barrier and prevents graffiti and blowing sand from reaching the sign face, in some cases, certain EXTREME inks and chemicals and SEVERE winds with debris can discolor or damage the overlay itself, thereby rendering the entire sign difficult read or otherwise unusable.

3M™ offers 3 grades of clear anti-graffiti overlay: #1150 (3M is discontinuing 1150), #1160 and #1170.

We only use and offer 3M™ #1170 clear for the following reasons:

  • although all overlays are very thin, 1170 is made of 100% acrylic; one of the toughest man-made plastics available
  • will not distract from the reflective properties of the sign.  Signs with 3M 1170 overlay still retain the same ASTM, DOT and MUTCD reflectivity ratings as signs made using the same grade and type of reflective sheeting that are not covered with this anti-graffiti film
  • the 3M or Avery warranty for the reflective sheeting and acrylic legend remains intact (7 years for Engineer Grade, 10 years for High Intensity Prismatic and 12 years for Diamond Grade [except certain fluorescent diamond grade sheeting in certain “sun-belt” states] and 3 years for some orange “Temporary Traffic Control” construction signs)

Once applied, its “there to stay”

  • #1170 is factory coated by 3M with their best overlay adhesive and 3M [a.k.a. “Scotch”] is, of course, legendary for their adhesives!
  • We NEVER use overlays manufactured by anyone other than 3M.  Overlays and adhesives manufactured by other U.S. and foreign manufacturer WILL separate over time
  • we apply the overlay to the sign faces using a professional laminator (the sign and the overlay is run thru a pair of rubber and steel rollers applying 80 psi to bond the 2 materials)

After the overlay is laminated to the sign face, it’s permanent, all-but-impossible to remove; we wouldn’t even attempt to remove it!  If/when we “mess up” when applying the overlay, we discard / recycle the sign and make a new sign.

So… SHOULD YOU PAY THE ADDITIONAL COST for signs laminated with this anti-graffiti overlay?

  • Likelihood of SIGN THEFT is very HIGH?: probably NOT (see Note 1 below)
  • Frequent occurrence of “KNIFE and FIREARM (bullet holes) ATTACKS”?: probably NOT (see Note 2 below)
  • GRAFFITI attacks RARELY OCCUR?: probably NOT (see Note 3 below)
    • Engineer Grade (EG) signs: Yes (see note 4 below)
    • High Intensity Prismatic (HIP) signs: Yes (see note 5 below)
    • Diamond Grade (DG) signs: Yes (see note 6 below)

NOTE 1: In locations where sign theft is a common occurrence, the overlay, of course, provides zero additional protection against theft; they’ve simply stolen a more expensive sign and therefore in most cases it’s just a waste of money

NOTE 2: Likewise, no additional protection is added; quite possibly just a waste of money

NOTE 3: If graffiti attack are “rare” it would probably be more cost effective NOT to pay for this added protection and instead “plan” on simply replacing a few signs if / when these attacks occur

NOTE 4: EG is the least durable of all reflective sheetings.  It is rather “porous” and therefore graffiti ink and paint will easily “soak into” the sheeting.  It is impossible to remove almost of all types of inks and paints.

Even Crayons™ marks are very difficult, if not impossible to completely remove, as is grease and oils.

Only dirt is easily removed from EG signs without the anti-graffiti overlay.

Ordering EG signs WITH the non-porousanti-graffiti overlay, however, provides a “barrier” and prevents these materials from touching the porous Engineer Grade sheeting under the overlay.

Another idea:  Another, more economical option would be to instead purchase signs made using High Intensity Prismatic but without the 3M anti-graffiti overlay. The HIP sheeting alone would not provide as much anti-graffiti protection as the 3M overlay, but, as shown above, provides good protection for most vandalism.  In addition to being less expensive than an Engineer Grade sign with the 3M clear anti-graffiti overlay, a sign made using High Intensity Prismatic without the 3M overlay would be about 4-5 times more reflective, look nicer and “more professional”.

NOTE 5: HIP is a considerably more durable sheeting than EG.  HIP is considered “semi-porous” whereas EG is considered “porous”. Consequently, graffiti, oils and grease are less likely to be absorbed into the sheeting.

Grease, oil, dirt, Crayon marks and NON-permanent paints, markers and inks can usually be removed from HIP signs WITHOUT the anti-graffiti overlay using mild soap and water.

Most permanent markers, inks and paints, however, will “clean up” to a moderate degree, but often “leave a mark” on HIP and the signs remain discolored.

Although some, but not most, graffiti can be removed, the higher cost of HIP signs make them a very good candidate for the additional expense of the anti-graffiti overlay where graffiti is a concern.

Like EG signs, ordering HIP signs covered WITH the overlay, the non-porous anti-graffiti overlayprovides a “barrier” and prevents these materials from touching the semi-porous sheeting under the overlay.

NOTE 6: Although DG reflective sheeting is considerably more reflective than HIP signs, its durability and “semi-porous” properties and resistance to grease, oil and some graffiti are very similar to HIP.

Therefore, please readNote 5 above; the same conditions apply to DG signs.

Due to the considerably higher cost of DG signs, the additional cost of  DG signs WITH the anti-graffiti overlayprotection is usually cost effective if graffiti is a reoccurring problem.


Please contact us by phone (702-644-7446) or e-mail if you have any additional questions.

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