Line striping is the most in-demand asphalt maintenance service that exists today. It adds an instant “wow” factor to any property, from parking lots to school playgrounds. However, the process can also be frustratingly tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing.
In this field, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Pressure setting, paint choices, and spray tips all matter. Once you lay the paint on the asphalt, there is no way to rewind. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when line striping a parking lot to help prevent uneven paint jobs and unsightly lines on your new asphalt.
Painting on Top of Existing Lines
You can line up your machine and paint over the existing mapped-out spaces but there are steps to take first. If you can flake off any loose material, you can sweep it first. Find a stiff wire brush broom and clean off any debris.
You may also find algae, mold, or mildew near the curb of most parking lots. If the lines feel wet to the touch, they will need to be cleaned off also, and that requires pressure washing. You can pressure wash each individual line but you should definitely charge extra for that service.
You need to use a quality product that’s designed to be used on pavement. Using an inferior product may seem like a good idea because it’s cheaper, but you may end up unhappy with the outcome. Use products that are as dependable as you are, so you won’t end up having to redo the job.
They may seem like a small and insignificant part of your equipment, but your machine’s tires are essential to line striping. Adjusting your tire pressure is very important. Your lines will look rough if you have too much air in your front tires. You may need to put in a little more effort to push the machine forward, but less pressure gives you a smoother ride and, in turn, straighter lines. Often the parking lots have dips, cracks, and other obstacles that can affect the look of your lines but you can navigate them better with a slightly flexible tire.
The Price Is Right
When starting in the line striping business, it can be challenging to determine how much to charge for each job. Instead of estimating, create a pricing guide based on measurements. One mistake to avoid when line striping a parking lot is undercharging. When pricing a job, use a measuring wheel to accurately price your project.
Make note if the lot needs power washing before the project begins. This can often mean two trips to the location, so you can charge extra for that service. Provide a line item for each item to clearly explain the price to your customer.
Parking lot line painting can be a highly profitable business. Businesses everywhere require this service, no matter how small or expansive the lot. You must be able to accurately scope your time and materials in order to turn a profit.
For larger projects such as grocery stores and shopping malls, you may need additional staff and machines to complete the project. Logistics is very important in this field. Consider the day’s jobs and map out how much paint you need, the necessary equipment, and the number of people involved. Then, physically map out each project so you can create the most economical route between locations.
Get the Job Done
Line striping is a complicated process. It takes time, practice, and patience to get it right. When done correctly, you have a stunning parking lot. When done incorrectly, you can end up with an unsightly scene that could take hours to fix. Experience is only one of the factors to a quality outcome.
Many factors affect the quality of your line striping, including:
- The condition of the pavement. If there are cracks or holes, they will show through on your final product.
- Customers and cars can sometimes be using the lot while you are painting it. Avoid this whenever possible.
- The weather conditions at the time of application are out of your control but including wording in your contracts that allows for rescheduling will allow you to navigate inclement weather or inopportune conditions.
You may have to work around shoppers, but quality and safety are critical concerns on each job. It’s essential to follow all safety regulations when painting parking lots in order for both yourself and others around you to remain safe on the jobsite.
Choose the Right One
There are many different types of field marking machines on the market today. They do not all have the same capabilities. Do not choose a device based on price. Let your goal determine the machine you purchase.
Will you run an operation that requires you to take on multiple projects each week? Are you looking for a personal paint striping machine for smaller, less common jobs? A common issue is choosing the wrong machine, which leads to wasted opportunities, money, and time. Match your machine to your workload and have a list of extras to compare before you purchase.
It’s best to keep your parking lot line striper clean and maintained. The cleanliness of your machine will affect the crispness of your lines. The nozzles should be cleaned after every project. Type up your routine and share it with your employees or anyone who will be using the machines. Taking the time to write out these guidelines will ensure that all steps are followed by all team members each time. You also want to be careful how you store your machine. You don’t want to place anything on top of your machine or store it in a way that could damage it.
It is important to store it inside if possible. While paint stripers are made for outdoor use, you don’t want to limit their exposure to the elements. Take steps at the end of each day to store your machine correctly so that it can last for years.
We hope this article has been useful for you. We’ve tried to cover the most common mistakes we see people make when line striping their parking lots. As with any job, find out what products are best suited for your needs, dedicate your time to mastering the application, and review your feedback for growth opportunities. Carry a business card with you at all times; you never know when an opportunity may arise!