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Signs, signs, everywhere is signs.
March 17, 2006 2:27 AM   Subscribe

Warning Signs are so ubiqutous that I hardly take notice, but one that caught my attention was one like this. Anti-climb paint? What the hell is that? It's a paint that never dries. And it is everywhere.
posted by three blind mice (101 comments total)

 
Heh. I never heard of that stuff.

That's the type of sign I'd see and go "Anti-climb paint? What the hell is anti-climb paint??". Then I'd proceed to climb the building/railing/whatever and get all pissed off when I get covered in goo.

A few minutes later I'd think, "Ohhhhh...anti-climb! I get it!".
posted by jahmoon at 2:34 AM on March 17, 2006


The first link seems to be, um, introuvable
posted by saraswati at 2:39 AM on March 17, 2006


This stuff is an April Fool's prank in the making.
posted by StephenV at 2:54 AM on March 17, 2006


I'm sure as a kid I can remember being told that all of the lampposts in Swansea had been painted with Anti-Climb paint to stop us kids having our fun.
posted by lloyder at 3:04 AM on March 17, 2006


You know, I've always wondered when they were going to invent anti-graffiti paint, so they aerosol paint just...slides way to the ground...
posted by Jimbob at 3:06 AM on March 17, 2006


Hm. This stuff has been commonplace in London for years, mostly on lamp posts and the top of bus shelters. Londoners must be more climbey than others.

(Actually I think the anti-climb they use on lamp posts is not the never-drying stuff, it's just very spiky paint which would hurt like hell if you tried to hold onto it).
posted by penguin pie at 3:19 AM on March 17, 2006


Take that, parkour artists!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 AM on March 17, 2006


Viscosity is the new black in architecture: Never-Dry® Roof Asphalt and Snapz-Off® shingles. How about gutters attached with exploding bolts?

But what about someone working on the roof losing their footing? This could all end in a lawsuit. Better to paint buildings with that puddle of glue they use in mouse traps. Certainly funnier.
posted by hal9k at 4:03 AM on March 17, 2006


I think the stuff in London is actually meant to stop social climbing.
posted by srboisvert at 4:04 AM on March 17, 2006


I never liked them anyway. Take that, climbs!
posted by redteam at 4:05 AM on March 17, 2006


Definitely not an April Fool. I've seen lots of signs for anti-climb paint, mainly in London, for the last few years. Didn't know it wasn't common elsewhere.
posted by squashy wol at 4:06 AM on March 17, 2006


I'm not quite sure why this is worthy of a post. The stuff is ubiquitous (and not just in London) and has been commonplace for most of my life. It's a non-drying paint that stops people climbing things they shouldn't. End of story.
posted by rhymer at 4:10 AM on March 17, 2006


Well, rhymer, I live in the United States, and the only time in my life I've ever heard of this stuff was when I saw one of those signs in London.

I didn't investigate at the time because I was in a hurry and I never bothered looking up exactly how it worked because I forgot about it. Now I know. Thank you internet and thank you, three blind mice.
posted by redteam at 4:15 AM on March 17, 2006


rhymer, I'd never heard of such a thing, and was shocked to find out that not only does it exist, it's quite common.

If you haven't been exposed to the idea before -- and I hadn't -- it's quite novel and interesting.

I thought it was a worthy FPP.
posted by Malor at 4:17 AM on March 17, 2006


Anti-climb paint is used pretty much all over the UK - especially in bigger cities (with more interesting climbing frames!).
posted by metaxa at 4:18 AM on March 17, 2006


Agree with redteam. I'm a USian, and I'd never heard of this stuff. Interesting. Thanks for the post, 3bm.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 4:27 AM on March 17, 2006


Sounds like a business plan in the making. Market anti-climb paint into the US.
posted by Leon at 4:31 AM on March 17, 2006


Oo! Oo! You could put some poison in it! Or some radioactivity! And then you could, like, scan a crowd to see who had climbed your wall with a Geiger counter! Cool!
posted by jfwlucy at 4:34 AM on March 17, 2006


sooooo...its grease. right?
i mean.... why not just paint your climbing surfaces with the collected grease and oil from cooking once a month and save yourself money? it'll be slippery enough.
posted by Doorstop at 4:39 AM on March 17, 2006


actually, thats a good idea. But, instead of making it entirely radioactive per se, you could make radiolabeled proteins or antibodies which would work to the same purpo kinda. you would just need better scanning equipment.
posted by Doorstop at 4:41 AM on March 17, 2006


You realize, of course, that anti-climbing paint is just a conspiracy to boost the sales of anti-anti-climbing-paint climbing gloves.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:51 AM on March 17, 2006


What about a tar-like sticky paint containing an intoxicationg poision? You'll get halfway up the building, then decide you can fly the rest of the way.
posted by spazzm at 4:52 AM on March 17, 2006


Never heard of it. Why doesn't it just get covered in dirt and leaves within a day?
posted by planetkyoto at 4:54 AM on March 17, 2006


srboisvert wins!
posted by eriko at 4:59 AM on March 17, 2006


why not just paint your climbing surfaces with the collected grease and oil from cooking once a month and save yourself money? it'll be slippery enough.

This would be particularly effective because the painted area would be swarming with rats, making it almost impossible to get a handhold.
posted by penguin pie at 4:59 AM on March 17, 2006


Oh alright then: maybe it does merit a FPP. But what I want to know is what do Americans - and indeed any other people that live lives unenriched by anti-climb paint use to stop people climbing stuff. Or is unwanted climbing only a problem in the UK?
posted by rhymer at 5:02 AM on March 17, 2006


what do Americans - and indeed any other people that live lives unenriched by anti-climb paint use to stop people climbing stuff

Razor wire, spikes, and broken glass embedded in concrete, mainly. In America we skip the humiliating comedy and go straight for the maiming.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:10 AM on March 17, 2006


In America we skip the humiliating comedy and go straight for the maiming.

lol.
posted by three blind mice at 5:13 AM on March 17, 2006


Almost sounds like a challenge to me..." We DARE you to climb this structure !"
posted by lobstah at 5:19 AM on March 17, 2006


faint of butt: yeah and due process eheh what a joke, fry the bastard already ! Ops, it really happens :D Sorry


Anyway I noticed the slippery paint application life is about 2 years..which means it is a rather expensive security device to maintain yet I like its non lethal aspect
posted by elpapacito at 5:20 AM on March 17, 2006


La page est introuvable
posted by swift at 5:22 AM on March 17, 2006


I'd hazard to guess that American urban architecture doesn't allow for parkeuring/climbing in the same way that London does. The space is organised completely differently. This is from my limited experience of America with just a hint of sweeping generalisation and ignorance.

And besides they all have cars: they don't need to climb.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:22 AM on March 17, 2006


I think partly it's addressed by design. For example, most American lampposts are very very fall, straight and smooth, and don't look like they could support a person's weight at the top if you somehow managed to get there. Also partly responsible is the general stop-being-weird sentiment of the populace (at least in the lovely Midwest).
posted by luftmensch at 5:23 AM on March 17, 2006


Razor wire, spikes, and broken glass embedded in concrete, mainly. In America we skip the humiliating comedy and go straight for the maiming.

Since I got here I have been pretty surprised by the amount of razor wire, broken glass topped walls and CCTV here in the UK. There really doesn't seem to be much crime but there is a huge preoccupation with the possibility of it.

And besides they all have cars: they don't need to climb.

Why climb when you can just knock them over!
posted by srboisvert at 5:29 AM on March 17, 2006


Never heard of it. It seems gross.
posted by OmieWise at 5:32 AM on March 17, 2006


Funnily enough, in several years in London I never actually saw anyone try to climb anti-climb paint, it would be kind of funny. Maybe the signs are sufficient deterrent and there is no anti climb paint. We've uncovered a conspiracy!

the general stop-being-weird sentiment of the populace

This is definitely not a part of the London social landscape.

London: Be weird! But don't climb things!
posted by penguin pie at 5:34 AM on March 17, 2006


In New Orleans, a tour guide told us the squiggly wrought-iron frond things at the top of lampposts were called "Romeo Spikes" to indicate their anti-climbing function.

I thought this was adorable. Our teenage sons, not so much.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:35 AM on March 17, 2006


penguin pie said '(Actually I think the anti-climb they use on lamp posts is not the never-drying stuff, it's just very spiky paint which would hurt like hell if you tried to hold onto it).'

That's anti-flyposting, not anti-climbing - the spiky surface rips paper and makes it hard to glue stuff to the post. Hence the lovely sculptural forms you get on lamposts nowadays made of hundreds of the cable ties used to affix laminated/card posters.
posted by jack_mo at 5:44 AM on March 17, 2006


"Warning signs! Warning signs! I hear them but I pay no mind. Warning sign of things to come..."
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:46 AM on March 17, 2006



posted by prostyle at 6:10 AM on March 17, 2006


Maybe the signs are sufficient deterrent and there is no anti climb paint.

No, I discovered the hard way that that anti-climb paint does indeed fulfill the function it was intended for when I ruined a jacket one evening after ill-advised clambering. Yes, alcohol was involved. And I didn't see the signs.
posted by anagrama at 6:17 AM on March 17, 2006


"yeah and due process eheh what a joke, fry the bastard already ! Ops, it really happens :D Sorry"

I believe I have successfully reached a point where I can faithfully predict a comment's author prior to reading the name at the bottom of the comment.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:22 AM on March 17, 2006


Wait - so how wet is this stuff? I heard the question echoed above, why doesn't it get covered with bugs and leaves and stuff?

In the U.S. we just stick bits of broken glass in concrete. Or I've seen it where window ledges in cities have 'decorative' concrete spikeys all along the bottom.

Plus, we're too fat to climb.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:24 AM on March 17, 2006


You don't find much cat burglary in the US. We have guns so we prefer the stick-up.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:26 AM on March 17, 2006


baby_balrog: yeah son, you have the powers ! Use them wisely for the good of mankind ! Now go, fly !
posted by elpapacito at 6:27 AM on March 17, 2006


Anti-climb paint? Wow.....dugg......oh, wait
posted by Joeforking at 6:28 AM on March 17, 2006


hee!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:34 AM on March 17, 2006


In New Orleans, a tour guide told us the squiggly wrought-iron frond things at the top of lampposts were called "Romeo Spikes" to indicate their anti-climbing function.

I thought this was adorable. Our teenage sons, not so much.


Maybe they had read Faulkner in high school.
posted by gimonca at 6:38 AM on March 17, 2006


Oh noes, now we have to get ladders.

(All right, all right, I'm sure it works, but that was my first thought.)
posted by kalimac at 6:48 AM on March 17, 2006


Thanks for the post. I did not know that.

Also, I learned a new word from one of the links:

Thixotropic - means : The property exhibited by certain gels of becoming fluid when stirred or shaken and returning to the semisolid state upon standing.


(I know nobody cares but me, but it's from the future stem, thix-, of the Greek verb thinggano 'touch': aorist ethigon, future thixomai. The Greek word is probably from Proto-Indo-European *dheigh- 'form, build,' which gives us dough and figure and fiction among other words; thigmotaxis is from the Greek aorist stem thig- with a -mo- suffix. Isn't etymology fun?)
posted by languagehat at 6:48 AM on March 17, 2006


"I've always wondered when they were going to invent anti-graffiti paint, so they aerosol paint just...slides way to the ground"

I recall reading a short story way back when, and its premise was that there was a graffiti artist who was something of a folk hero, and a corporation invented just such a paint specifically to stop him. When they demonstrated their wonderful new paint at a televised event, the graffiti artist had gotten there first with some stolen miracle paint, and their demonstration of anti-graffiti paint turned into a mockery as their paint slid off his to reveal a jester thumbing its nose at them.

Or something along those lines.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:49 AM on March 17, 2006


Maybe they had read Faulkner in high school.
posted by gimonca at 6:38 AM PST on March 17 [!]

And your comment is why I read Metafilter:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:53 AM on March 17, 2006


Good God, this is new to you? I've been seeing that stuff on walls and fences in the UK for at least twenty years. At least.
posted by Decani at 6:57 AM on March 17, 2006


'Cat Alley' in London is the first area known to have anti-climb paint applied specifically to deter practitioners of parkour. The alley runs between the Whitehouse Apartments and Waterloo Bridge and used to provide an ideal training environment for cat leaps/saut de bras and precision jumps. The paint has been a very effective deterrent.

The words 'RIP CAT ALLEY' have been scrawled in the black goo on the wall next to the gap jump. I would imagine that the paint has to be reapplied periodically (every few years, perhaps), depending on how exposed it is to the elements. It is not very nice stuff.

From what I've gathered, there isn't a particularly large buildering community in London (certainly not an obvious one), so I don't think that the paint is applied very often to deter social climbers. Where people do climb, it generally goes unnoticed or takes place in locations where anti climb paint can't be applied effectively (windows, for example).

A very intent burglar would probably find ways of overcoming the paint. I think it is most effective in deterring opportunist thieves, vandals, the homeless, and casual graffiti artists.
posted by Kiell at 7:03 AM on March 17, 2006


languagehat- As a relatively new armchair Greek scholar, I care.
posted by leapfrog at 7:09 AM on March 17, 2006


About five years ago I climbed a park fence that had been recently covered in this icky goop in order to use a local drunks' shortcut. It was only when I got home and put on the light when I realised what anti-climb paint does: basically ruins every item of clothing you're wearing. The side-effect of your leaving perfect, black hand- and fingerprints over everything is quite useful too, I would think.
posted by Keefa at 7:11 AM on March 17, 2006


Good God, this is new to you? I've been seeing that stuff on walls and fences in the UK for at least twenty years. At least.

We've already established that not everyone here is from the UK, though I know this comes as a shock to you. But thanks for sharing.

As a relatively new armchair Greek scholar, I care.

Then my efforts have not been in vain. W00t!
posted by languagehat at 7:12 AM on March 17, 2006


Funny, I never heard of it nor noticed any such signs in London. But I don't climb stuff anymore.
posted by Goofyy at 7:16 AM on March 17, 2006


Never heard of it. Can't wait to start painting stuff with it.
posted by furtive at 7:20 AM on March 17, 2006


And besides they all have cars: they don't need to climb.

Exactly. Here in the US, it's common for drunken yuppies to drive to a friend's by taking their SUV over walls and houses. California has a major problem with Priuses and Mini Coopers perched in the redwoods, and criminals often drive up the side of buildings in their Trans Ams to burgle bedrooms on the second and third floor.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:25 AM on March 17, 2006


When I worked as a lifeguard we had a fake sign that warned that pool was cleaned nightly by an electronic cleaning system to prevent people from taking a midnight dip in the pool.
posted by my sock puppet account at 7:30 AM on March 17, 2006


Thixotropy previously on metafilter.
(just to show that no matter how obscure a topic is, it's in the archives somewhere)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:34 AM on March 17, 2006


Hm. This stuff has been commonplace in London for years, mostly on lamp posts and the top of bus shelters. Londoners must be more climbey than others.

Those... CLIMBEY LIMEYS! God, they sicken me so.

I hardly got out of London without being climbed on. No! It's true! Swear to God! ;)
posted by smallerdemon at 7:36 AM on March 17, 2006


wow, so many people are posting so quickly.... i just had to get in! i've been thwarted by this stuff.
posted by punkbitch at 7:38 AM on March 17, 2006


Metafilter : We skip the humiliating comedy and go straight for the maiming.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 7:41 AM on March 17, 2006


Lived in both Chicago and Miami for my entire 35 years, and have never heard of the stuff.

The question was posed above, but no answer was offered, so I'll ask again. Does this stuff get gummed up with leaves, dirt and trash? If not, why? Can anyone answer?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:43 AM on March 17, 2006


What is so interesting upwards in the UK? And why are some people trying keep other people from getting to it?
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:46 AM on March 17, 2006


Anti-climb paint also looks to be one of the few things in the world that doesn't have a wikipedia entry. Hop to it, folks!

The two entries in wikipedia that come up when you search are "paint" [duh] and "parkour". I had never really known what parkour was called, but at BNAT this year we saw the French film Banlieue 13 starring some martial arts-parkour guys that was a lot of fun to watch.
posted by smallerdemon at 7:49 AM on March 17, 2006


I think the stuff in London is actually meant to stop social climbing.
posted by srboisvert

From what I've gathered, there isn't a particularly large buildering community in London (certainly not an obvious one), so I don't think that the paint is applied very often to deter social climbers
posted by Kiell

Srboisvert is talking about debutantes. Kiell is not...right?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:49 AM on March 17, 2006


My first tagline! I'm so proud.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:59 AM on March 17, 2006


The opposite of thixotropic is rheopectic. Both terms refer to change in viscosity in a time dependent manner based on the duration of the shear force. Based on the descriptions given here, I think the better technical terms are pseudoplastic and dilatant, which refer to a direct relation between shear force and viscosity with no time component. Dilatant describes compounds that increase viscosity under shear force, such as silly putty.

Golly, I love wikipedia.
posted by leapfrog at 8:01 AM on March 17, 2006


prostyle, thanks! I was just about to post that image. I've actually got a collection of them from my days in London.
posted by shoepal at 8:02 AM on March 17, 2006


I believe so, Jody.

I got a smile out of that, and now I'm imagining some new Web 2.0/Parkour/FlashMob mash-up: "Oh yeah, I've been on Climbr ever since it was in beta... "

Man, is climb ever a weird-looking word.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:06 AM on March 17, 2006


This is why it was invented.
posted by Drexen at 8:15 AM on March 17, 2006


Also the first one I've made, FoB. We popped our tagline virginity together.

An entirely different kind of sticky climbing.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 8:20 AM on March 17, 2006


MetaFilter: I've been seeing that stuff on walls and fences in the UK for at least twenty years.

Sorry.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:20 AM on March 17, 2006


I'm going to make a hypothesis on why this stuff doesn't have leaves stuck to it. (I have no experience with it, but since no one else wants to guess...)

It seems like it's solid state unless you stir it up, so I would presume that leaves blowing by aren't forceful enough to do that - but hands and fingers climbing would be. Kind of like the opposite of that cornstarch and water mixture we made in fourth grade science class.
posted by ArsncHeart at 8:36 AM on March 17, 2006


jeff-o-matic, because of thixotropiciscisicism (suck it dictionaries) as mentioned earlier.

Ie, the stuff solidifies when not being climbed upon. Solid = doesn't get stuff stuck in it. Somebody steps on it and it sticks to them.

As far as I can gather.

I remember hearing a rumour that this stuff melts the feet of pigeons, but I can't find anything to corroborate it...
posted by slimepuppy at 8:44 AM on March 17, 2006


Sounds like a business plan in the making. Market anti-climb paint into the US.

Is climbing really a problem in the US? What's going on in England that's making people climb things obsessively. Crazy British monkeys.
posted by delmoi at 8:44 AM on March 17, 2006


Obviously, we UKers have a history of walking wherever the hell we damn well please. Perhaps the prevalence of this sticky compound on our street furniture is a response to our natural roaming instincts?
posted by Keefa at 8:46 AM on March 17, 2006


the post is quite amusing.. ive never seen this stuff but now i have an incredible urge to go to london just to try to climb something. i will beat the anti-climb paint!!!

and yeah.. in the states noone climbs anymore, kids are too busy playing mind numbing video games (i cant blame them, i do it too) to go out and climb things, but when i was a kid... oh man i climbed everything! and adults just sit on the couch and watch people on tv climb stuff. (although probably not london based)
posted by trishthedish at 8:59 AM on March 17, 2006


Does this stuff get gummed up with leaves, dirt and trash? If not, why? Can anyone answer?

One of the linked articles says that this paint shrugs of most dirt and trash.
posted by teece at 9:03 AM on March 17, 2006


Never heard of this stuff. As someone who likes to climb things, for no particular reason other than curiousity, I find the whole idea disturbing.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:08 AM on March 17, 2006


rheopectic. hop to it, languagehat
posted by Rumple at 9:08 AM on March 17, 2006


This stuff is an April Fool's prank in the making.

I give you Dykem High Spot Blue. A favorite of practical-joking machinists for generations, it's greasy, hard to wash off, and stains permanently! Best applied to the underside of a doorknob or other handle.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:09 AM on March 17, 2006


This will not thwart International Tree Climbing Day.
posted by beerbajay at 9:17 AM on March 17, 2006


Wow. I've never heard of parkour before, awesome.
posted by penguin pie at 9:18 AM on March 17, 2006


In Canada we have anti-climax paint.
It just doesn't look as good as you thought it would.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:41 AM on March 17, 2006


You don't find much cat burglary in the US.
Dog muggings, on the other hand, are way up.

/stupid
posted by scrump at 10:31 AM on March 17, 2006


The Anti-Sit Archives
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:56 AM on March 17, 2006


While I was gallivating around New Zealand back in January, I noticed that the Kiwis have a strange fetish for weird signs/advertisements:

Overcome your fear of big nuts (Wellington) - Safe for work, don't worry.
Slow Down Sperm Whale! (Kaikoura) - Another name for speed bumps? ;)
This isn't an unmarked police car (Martinborough)
Slippery when wet (Rotorua) - Looks like a man farting out his foot.
posted by RockBandit at 11:06 AM on March 17, 2006


Heh, I'm an idiot... I clicked one link and thought "OH! WEIRD SIGNS!" and posted my NZ links. Oops!

Ah hem. Anyway, yeah, I have never heard of this Anti-Climb paint myself. I probably would have thought it was a joke and tried to climb the thing (most likely while walking by it drunk... that could only end well).
posted by RockBandit at 11:09 AM on March 17, 2006


Sounds like they could use this paint in France.
posted by jefbla at 11:20 AM on March 17, 2006


sonofsamiam, I can't get over how much GUM is on the sidewalks in those Anti-Sit pics! Now I realize why you can't get gum in Singapore. On topic, I have my own collection of anti-sit elements and anti-skateboard devices. Interesting stuff, thanks for the link.
posted by tomplus2 at 12:35 PM on March 17, 2006


jfwlucy writes "You could put some poison in it! Or some radioactivity! And then you could, like, scan a crowd to see who had climbed your wall with a Geiger counter!"

Some of this paint flouresces and contains chemical markers for easy detection.
posted by Mitheral at 2:27 PM on March 17, 2006


We still need a definitive answer on the bugs, leaves, and wind.
posted by ontic at 3:20 PM on March 17, 2006


In America we skip the humiliating comedy and go straight for the maiming.



LMAO. In America, people scale fences that say "Keep Out-Guard Dogs" and then blame the dogs when they get mauled. Or climb on roofs to spy through skylights and sue the homeowners when they fall off. I like the idea of coating things with the same kind of glue used in mouse traps.
posted by annieb at 3:39 PM on March 17, 2006


In Canada we have anti-climax paint.
It just doesn't look as good as you thought it would.


Thank goodness it's that kind of anti-climax and not the, um, other kind.
posted by chrominance at 11:24 PM on March 17, 2006


Well, you can get that, also.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2006


We've already established that not everyone here is from the UK

Don't be an anus, son. Petulance is so unbecoming.
posted by Decani at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2006


You were repeating a stupid, irrelevant comment that had already been made and dealt with. If you don't want to be treated as a dolt, don't post doltish comments.
posted by languagehat at 5:10 PM on March 18, 2006


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