Line Striping Your Property: Step-By-Step Ways To Perk Your Parking Area Up This Season

line striping your propertyThere is nothing that brings down the look of your property more than the parking area. Yet overwhelmingly parking lots are a sad and neglected afterthought in property management. This is the very first impression anyone has of your place, so why not perk it up with a fresh new coat of paint on your parking lot lines? You may never get a compliment on how good it looks, but you certainly will make the very best first impression and keep your place looking great. Here is your step-by-step guide to perking your parking area up this season.

Step One – Cleaning Always Comes First

There are people who try to paint over dirt, and the result is usually worse than the faded lines you started with. Pavement has its own cleaning challenges, but they're simple to do with this three-fold plan-of-attack.

  1. clearing asphalt debrisRemove all debris – This can be done with a broom, but as a property manager you likely have a leaf or gas blower already. Sweeping the lot clear of debris is quick and easy with a blower.
  2. Wash Away Stains – Never overlook the obvious, like fuel stains or gas, oil, diesel as well as spilled drinks, gum, and so forth. An environmental degreaser cleaner will make short work of stains, without dangerous chemicals (scrape the gum up first, though). Note: Pressure washers will force fuel stains deep into the pavement, and are not recommended.
  3. Scrape Loose Paint – Most times you're line striping over existing markings, so it's important to scrub away any loose flaking paint. A pressure washer can make short work of this, but a wire brush will work just as well (it just needs more effort on your part).

Step Two – Pause To Assess Your Pavement

fix cracks Just as you would never patch nail holes after you paint a wall, you should never waste money on line striping if your pavement needs other work. Take a moment now that your parking area is clean and check if you need any of the following done:

  • Pothole And Crack Filling – Should always be the first step and is the most important step in looking after your parking area.  It is far cheaper to maintain your pavement by repairing it as you go than to face complete repaving in a few years of neglect.
  • Asphalt Seal Coating – A very close second in importance. Asphalt oxidizes and gets brittle; a fresh seal coat will keep your parking lot healthy.

Maintenance Tip: Either of these jobs can be done by you or by a hired contractor.

Step Three – Supplies And Tools

What exactly do you have to have to do your own property's line striping? Here's your list, with options from cheap and labor-intensive to more expensive but quick and easy.

  • Traffic Paint: Here you must buy a paint specifically engineered for use on pavement. Anything else is going to peel and flake and look worse than what you started with. Using water based or oil based paint depends on what your local laws are. Finally, you have the option of aerosol cans or pails, depending on how you choose to apply. Use our free calculator to figure out exactly how much you need (don't forget to measure for each color you need).
Water Based Paint 5 Gallons
  • Line Striping Applicator: The simplest and cheapest way to apply paint is with a brush or roller, along with a pair of straight-edges (wood or cardboard) to ensure straight lines. However, the work is done easier, quicker, and more professionally with a line striping machine. They start from the simplest aerosol can loading style all the way up to machines that can handle vast parking lots, and everything in between.
line striping machines
  • Stencils: The importance of stencils cannot be stressed enough. You need them for everything from marking parking stalls for handicap spaces to numbers and names, direction arrows, fire lanes, 'no parking', and more. Free-style painting is amateur looking, and completely unprofessional. You may need more than one of each type of stencil as well. Why? If you have 20 stalls to mark as handicap spaces, you do not want to move the wet stencil 20 times. Having five would mean you could paint five at a time, let dry, and move on to the next set.
painting stencils for parking lots
  • Good To Have: If you're working on asphalt, a pail of sealant is excellent for painting over any mistakes or spills. Then there are glass beads for reflectivity that really make your lines shine. Pylons, stakes, sawhorses, and caution tape are all effective ways to block off your parking area so no one drives or walks over your hard work.
Asphalt Sealer Bucket - 5 Gallon Pail Hi-Visibility Glass Bead Kit 18" traffic cone

  • Critical To Know: Be aware of your local laws and follow them. This includes things like how many handicap stalls are required and how they should be marked, to restrictions against oil-based paint in favor of water-based paint. It is far less expensive to know this ahead of time, so you don't have to re-do your line striping or risk getting an expensive fine.
handicap stall stencils

Step Four: Marking Your Lines

Now that all the prep work is done, it's time to paint the line markings of your parking area. For most, this is simply a matter of tracing over the existing, but faded and unsightly lines. However, if you are doing a complete redesign of your lot, you will need to mark with chalk lines. For info on that, and so much more, take our free line striping course here.

Ready to make your mark? Here are the steps you need to take for long-lasting parking lines:

  1. Check The Weather Forecast – For successful line striping you need the right weather. The pavement must be dry, with no rain in the forecast for the next 24 hours. You need at least 50°F for oil-based and aerosol paint, and at least 60°F for water-based traffic paint.
  2. Block Off Your Work Area – Use caution tape, sawhorses, etc. to make sure no one can walk or drive over your job site.
  3. Choose Your Color – Wet paint is not something you want to walk over or drive over with your line striping machine, so plan carefully. You may decide to start with all the long lines first, and then go back to the beginning to mark the stall lines, after the long lines have dried. If you are doing stencils, factor the timing in for when it's best to start each one. For instance, handicap stalls are often yellow and blue, so you'll need time for the first color to dry. Tip: If you have a lot of stencils, a line striping machine with stencilling capabilities is an undeniably attractive time-saving feature.
  4. Reflective Beads (Optional) – If you opt for the use of reflective glass beads for superb visibility, remember, they must be added while the paint is still wet, and factor that into your timing. When you have a large lot that requires glass beads, consider upgrading with an attachment that dispenses from certain models of line striper as you paint. The time saved, and the convenience, will make you wonder why you ever did without.
  5. Allow To Dry – Give your work time to cure and dry before you reopen your parking area to traffic. While it's drying, be sure and do your clean-up. Store leftover paint and sealant where they will never be in danger of freezing, clean and dry your stencils before storing them flat, wash brushes, and clean striping machines according to their manuals ASAP.

There you are: a complete step-by-step process to perk up your parking area and give your property a fresh and welcoming first impression. Begin by cleaning the pavement to remove all debris and stains. Take the time to assess whether you need any repairs or a fresh coat of blacktop sealer, and arrange to have that done before line striping. Gather all your supplies and equipment that you will need to complete the work from applying the paint to blocking off the parking lot. When the weather's right, start line striping with a careful plan so you don't run over any of your wet paint. Clean up while it dries, and then sit back and admire how fantastic your property's parking area looks with its fresh new paint.

Questions?  Contact our Asphalt Line Striping Experts toll-free at 1-866-444-5231.