City Paints a Wee Prevention Tactic

TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2015

San Francisco is coating building exteriors oft treated as public urinals with a fresh finish designed to splash urine back on the source.

That’s right; after seeing how Hamburg, Germany’s bar district recently tackled its urine problem, public works officials launched a similar pilot program aimed at cleaning up some of the most urine-laden and odorous areas of the city, according to various reports.

So far crews have painted nine walls with the superhydrophobic and oleophobic paint called Ultra-Ever Dry, manufactured by UltraTech International of Jacksonville, FL.

The company claims the barrier coating, first introduced in February 2013, can completely repel almost any liquid. The company website says the product employs a "proprietary nanotechnology to coat an object and create a barrier of air on its surface." 

How it Works

When peed upon, the coated walls make urine “bounce back” onto the clothing of the unsuspecting public urinators, according to San Francisco officials.

“We are piloting it to see if we can discourage people from peeing at many of our hot spots,” Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru told media outlets.

“Nobody wants to smell urine. We are trying different things to try to make San Francisco smell nice and look beautiful.”

The cost to paint the walls is much lower than sending out workers to steam clean the areas multiple times a year, officials said.

Warning Signs

On the walls coated with the pee-prevention paint, a sign reads: “Hold it! This wall is not a public restroom. Please respect San Francisco and seek relief in an appropriate place.”  

The signs are posted in English, Chinese and Spanish. They also remind residents that it is illegal to urinate on public or private property without prior permission, noting that violations carry a penalty fine of up to $500.

However, as some reports noted, the signs do not explicitly say what will happen to the public urinator, so some surprises are in order.

Public toilets have also been added throughout the city to help curb the urine problem.


Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Coatings Technology; Exterior Wall Coatings; Facility Managers; Formulating; Government; North America; Paint application; Public spaces; Water repellents

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.