Parking lot striping may seem like a minute task, but its importance cannot be overstated. A properly painted parking lot is crucial for safety, and can make all the difference between a smooth parking experience and an unsafe environment.
It’s inevitable that parking lot paint will fade over time; therefore it’s important to keep up with touch-ups. Ideally, parking lots should be repainted every two to three years to ensure paint stays fresh and bright. If you notice an uptick in parking lot accidents, it may be time to reassess your parking lot layout and repaint it.
Whether you are freshening up an existing paint job or starting from scratch, this guide to parking lot striping will help you gain a better understanding of how to paint a parking lot.
Parking Lot Striping Equipment
Before you begin the planning and painting process, there are a few key pieces of equipment you’ll need.
- Parking lot striper. A striper, also known as a paint striping machine or pavement striper, makes easy work of the painting process. Simply push the machine forward and you can easily create clean, straight lines on your lot surface. Most paint striping machines allow you to adjust the width of the spray paint lines. Keep in mind that some paint striping machines only work with specific types of paint (water- or solvent-borne). Double check that the machine you purchase is compatible with the paint you’ll be using.
- Parking lot paint. Consider whether you will be using water based or solvent based paint for your parking lot. Each comes with its own advantages. Water based paint is becoming more commonplace due to ever-changing environmental regulations, but you may prefer solvent if your local jurisdiction allows it. Make sure that the paint you choose is designed for use on pavement — otherwise, it won’t last. Also be sure to consider the color and amount of paint you will need. Blue is a popular choice for ADA handicap parking spaces, while yellow and white are used for the majority of parking lots.
- Measuring tape. Measuring tape or other measuring tools should be used to create precisely sized and spaced parking spaces.
- Parking lot stencils. Depending on your demands, you may need a variety of parking lot stencils such as letters, numbers, arrow symbols, and ADA handicap parking logos.
- Safety equipment. Don’t overlook this one! Ensure you stay safe by wearing a paint mask and proper footwear while painting.
The Painting Process
First, make sure you clean the parking lot before you begin painting. The most effective way to do this is with a blower, but you can also broom-sweep if you have a smaller parking lot. You’ll also want to power wash the entire area to ensure it is as clean as possible.
In addition to cleaning, it’s wise to fill in any cracks in the pavement with asphalt before you start the painting process.
Next, you’ll want to properly measure and designate your parking spaces by using measuring tape and pavement marking tape. Make sure the tape you choose is specifically designed for use on pavement for the best adhesion.
Be sure to know ahead of time whether you will be making straight parking stalls (90 degrees) or angle parking stalls (45 - 60 degrees). The standard size for parking spaces is 9’ x 18’, with a minimum of 16’ (angle parking) or 22’ (straight parking) in aisle ways. (Note - please research your local jurisdiction’s requirements for the most accurate information.)
Once the parking lot is cleaned and prepared for painting, it’s time to begin the painting process. Using your paint striper, begin rolling the machine, which will spray paint as you move into the desired area. Typically, you will need two coats of paint for it to properly adhere to the asphalt.
Additional Tips to Keep in Mind
- Keep grit in mind when painting your parking lot, as it can provide traction on slippery paint lines.
- Use reflective paint to enhance nighttime visibility in your parking lot.
- Review ADA and local requirements to ensure your parking lot is in compliance.
Painting a parking lot is no easy feat. If you’re having doubts about your painting abilities, consider taking a paint striping course or outsourcing the work to a trusted painting professional. Otherwise, browse our collection of parking lot striping tools and equipment to shop for parking lot stripers and paint.