Painting parking lot lines is a great stand-alone business or add-on to an existing sealcoating or property maintenance business. It's fast, satisfying work and it helps improve traffic flow and a building's aesthetics.
Getting into any business can be intimidating though, and knowing what NOT to do can be as important as knowing what you should do.
Here are the three most common asphalt striping mistakes we see:
1. Choosing the Wrong Paint For the Job
If you are striping a freshly-paved parking lot and you choose an oil-based paint, the paint will discolor when the solvents mix with the tar on the surface of the new pavement.
Water-based paint won't stick to the new surface for long, either, though, so what should you do?
The Solution: Plan to apply a second coat of paint about 30 days after the first one. If you're a new contractor, you'll need to explain way this happens to your customers. If you're a property maintenance manager, being aware and prepared will help you budget properly.
2. Striping Before Checking State Regulations
This is a big 'ouch' if it happens to you. You've laid out a parking lot and painted each stripe to perfection, only to find out you are short one handicapped spot and the designated width won't fit the spots you have already applied.
Anyone who has tried to remove freshly painted lines knows it is an almost-impossible task. You will have to either:
- water blast the stripes using a pressure that does not also damage the asphalt underneath
- use a surface scraper to try and scrape the lines off
- use a black-out paint to 'hide' the existing lines and re-configure the lot
The Solution: check with your state's regulations before you lay out a parking lot, and if you are a contractor ask the owner to sign off on the requirements before you stripe. The US Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration is a good place to start looking.
3. Selecting the Wrong Line Striper
There are a lot of choices in line stripers, ranging from simple machines that carry inverted cans of aerosol paint, to large machines that include trailer seats, dual guns and even cupholders! But getting the wrong kind of machine can mean more than having to leave your beverage in your truck- it can mean that you don't have the flexibility to do the job you need to do.
The Solution: start by assessing the kind of asphalt striping you intend to do. If you just need to stripe a small lot once a year or so, choose the aerosol striper.
If you will be striping parking lots regularly, upgrade to a high-pressure machine that will carry a five-gallon pail of paint.
If you plan to paint stencils, and curved lines or curbs, invest in a machine with two guns to save time and expense down the road.
Are you an experienced line painter? Did you run into any (or all) of these mistakes when you started your business? Let us know in the comments below!