What is Anti-Vandal Paint?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Anti-vandal paint is a paint product that deters climbing and graffiti, making it more difficult for vandals to damage property. It is also known as anti-climb or anti-scale paint, references to the slippery nature of surfaces treated with anti-vandal paint. The paint consists of a very thick, non-drying oil emulsion that remains slippery and wet long after application. It is available from hardware and home supply stores, along with signs warning of the use of anti-vandal paint for people to post near surfaces they have painted with this product.

Anti-vandal paint is used to protect against graffiti.
Anti-vandal paint is used to protect against graffiti.

When people attempt to climb walls and fences treated with anti-vandal paint, they will slip and fall. The paint will also stain their bodies and clothing, making them easy to identify. While it is possible to scale a fence covered in this product while wearing protective gear, it is challenging, and requires more work than many vandals are willing to invest. In addition, the slippery nature of the paint allows people to easily scrape or wipe graffiti off, keeping surfaces looking neat.

So-called anti-vandal paint dries with a slick finish, making walls difficult to scale.
So-called anti-vandal paint dries with a slick finish, making walls difficult to scale.

Anti-vandal paint can be applied with a stiff brush or painting glove. It is important to wear an apron while painting so any splashback will not damage clothing. Solvents are available to remove the paint from clothing in cases where people are stained with it while working. Harsh solvents may damage the skin, and several rounds of soap and water are recommended instead to remove paint on the skin if any splashes onto the arms or face.

Some municipalities have codes addressing anti-vandal paint. It may be necessary to apply it only above a certain height, to avoid situations where paint smears on the clothing of innocent pedestrians and to prevent slips and falls. People may also be required to post warning signs so people know about the paint. If a vandal tries to climb an unmarked fence and incurs an injury, it is possible the property owner may be taken to court for failing to exercise due care.

If a fence needs to be repainted, people can use solvents to strip the anti-vandal paint and prepare the surface for a new paint job. This process can be messy, and it is advisable to think carefully before applying anti-vandal paint in the first place to make sure it is appropriate for the task. A security consultant can provide advice on options for vandalism management and deterrence for a property owner uncertain about how to address a vandalism problem.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@strawCake - I know some graffiti is artistic, but some of it really is just vandalism. I don't have much sympathy for these "street artists." Why don't they just paint on their own walls?

I also think it's kind of sad that someone could get sued for this anti-vandal paint. If vandals are trying to come onto your property illegally and get hurt, you shouldn't be held responsible! That is just ridiculous!


I think graffiti is pretty cool in some instances. I have heard it called street art, and I think it really is. I can understand that people don't want their buildings messed up, but I really think cities should set aside some space for street art.

Where I live, there is a whole block of bars that made their back walls available to graffiti artists. People go there all the time to just look at the wall, and also patronize the bars. It's a win-win for all: the street artists get to paint, and the bars get more business.

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