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Using Color Measurement to Remove Graffiti

August 12, 2016 by X-Rite Color

Walking through the streets of Los Angeles, it’s no secret that graffiti is a huge problem. According to LA Weekly, graffiti-removal requests have increased by 64 percent in the last five years. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana says that by June the Board of Public Works had already recorded 141,000 requests for the 2015-16 fiscal year, compared to 86,000 in 2010-11.

Image courtesy of http://typo-graphical.com/

Image courtesy of http://typo-graphical.com/

Graffiti a big problem that is continuing to grow, but color measurement solutions from X-Rite are helping.

The City of Los Angeles came to X-Rite for help with the graffiti problem over ten years ago. At that time, contractors were chipping off samples of
the background paint, taking them to a paint supplier to be matched and mixed, and bringing back paint to finish the job. It was effective, but took three to four days to cover each area.

Says Thomas Corrales, Head Paint Engineer, City of Los Angeles, five neutral colors are used throughout the City to paint the surfaces of low visibility areas, such as alleys. “In these areas, using standard paint colors to cover graffiti is very efficient, but we can’t paint the entire city a neutral color.”

They needed a faster solution with eye-appealing results.

Color measurement to the rescue!

X-Rite worked with the City to implement a solution. Here’s how it works.


The portable Ci61 is rugged, fast, and easy to use.

Contractors carry a handheld spectrophotometer – a color measurement device that is used to identify and evaluate color – with them as they travel the streets of LA. When they find graffiti, they take a measurement of the background color and use it to mix the perfect color of paint.

For the past decade, the City and its contractors have been using the X-Rite SP-52 but have recently upgraded to a newer handheld, the X-Rite Ci61. Designed for paint matching, it’s popular with contractors, interior designers, and paint retailers because it takes fast readings of just about any surface, including walls, carpeting, paint chips, and inspiration items like pillows and pottery. The Ci61 is also portable and rugged, which makes it the perfect choice for LA.

ColorDesigner PLUS To save even more time, contractors use X-Rite ColorDesigner PLUS software to access the right color formulation for the color they measured and quickly get the paint they need. The City’s standard colors are stored in ColorDesigner PLUS to make it fast and accurate to formulate and order those paints, as well as the custom colors the Contractors sometimes need to match.

ColorDesigner PLUS also stores specific site information and associated colors. “We process some sites at least 20 times per month,” says Corrales. “This means that we could formulate paint without an actual site visit. That’s especially important in those high-graffiti areas and would mean that our contractors could get even more done every single day.”

Beautiful results

Using X-Rite spectrophotometers and ColorDesigner PLUS in the field has improved the quality of paint matching and reduced the graffiti-removal process from three to four days to one.

“Our goal is to stay current with technology so we can deliver the best possible services to our citizens and businesses,” says Corrales. “We take pride in our City, and it is important to us, and to our citizens and business community, that these eyesores be removed as quickly as possible.”

LA Graffiti

To learn more about how the City of LA is setting the bar for graffiti removal, check out the full case study.

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