Thorough prep and consistent execution are key

By Jeff Winke

A carpentry axiom that encourages careful first steps in order to avoid extra work later on is measure twice, cut once. Actually, with the high cost of lumber these days and the cost in terms of gas and time, most carpenters measure thrice or more times because they can’t afford a mistake.

The same cautionary planning is exercised by smart pavement line stripers. Nothing could be worse than completing a job and standing back to admire the parking lot grid and noticing it is askew or never accounted for handicap spaces or pedestrian walkways.

“Laying out a new parking lot must be done right the first time,” stated Luke Menear, 1-800-STRIPER, Rochester New York. “You’ll want to start by squaring up the parking lot by measuring the length and width (this will determine how many rows of parking and how many parking spots in each row). Next, use a tape measure, a chalk line, and crayon to measure the length of the lot and mark your spaces. When it’s all mapped out, you can snap the chalk line to connect each mark and get ready to paint.”

To complete a pavement marking or line striping job correctly and well, there are preparation steps to take.

Mark Estrada, senior VP with Marathon Solutions Group, LLC, a pavement maintenance contractor based in Houston, Texas, recommends the following prep steps before laying down markings and lines:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Cover all safety measures
  • Make sure all equipment is in working condition
  • Choose proper material
  • Troubleshoot any problems at your shop before the project
  • Make a checklist of all supplies and material needed for completion

A lot goes into preparing for a line striping job.

“I really think line striping requires a positive mental attitude,” Estrada said. “To me, striping is 90% mental, 10% physical. Before heading out, you need to go over all the vital aspects of the job and address it with your team and yourself prior to starting. Are there safety concerns? What are the customers’ expectations? What type of material and application? Is there a deadline? What’s the target/goal? A clear map and solid direction always helps!”

Having consistent work habits can help.

“The moment I arrive at the job site, my routine is always the same,” stated Dan Zurcher, owner of The American Striping Company, Columbus, Ohio. “I block the entrances to the work site and don my work belt. Then I’ll break the job into smaller pieces in a way that makes sense to you. Remember, there aren’t any big jobs. There are only smaller ones stuck together. The goal is efficiency. I always paint the stripes first. If my work is ever interrupted, at least the striping is done. Next comes the stenciling. Without the striping in place I cannot stencil the lot. Drive lanes are always last. If I need to, I’ll stripe the drive lanes another day. Bottom line, I have a plan and stick to it. This is my pattern and I use it on every job.”

A constancy in work process also appears to ensure a successful outcome.

“We use the three C’s to prepare for any and every striping job,” Menear said. “We Communicate with the customer about important job details like when, where, and what they would like to have done to their parking lot. We then Coordinate with our striping team about essential details, such as what type of paint and color will be used for the job, specific stencils, etc. And then, we Collaborate with our team to get the right equipment, materials, and manpower to get the job done.”

Menear added, “There are many different details that factor into successful line striping, from the dimensions of a parking space to the color of the markings. However, having a well-trained and knowledgeable team with the right equipment makes all the difference.”

In the end, what are the top tips to ensure the marking and line striping project is a success?

“From initial planning through completion, project safety needs to be uppermost in mind,” said Estrada. “Transparency by clearly communicating and strategizing with your team on scope of work and goals/expectations. And, don’t give up. Keep success on your mind and never let it go.”

Menear offered the following tips: “To start, it is important to always make sure you send a detailed estimate of your scope of work, so both you and the customer know the project expectations. Then, we coordinate with them to schedule the best time to accommodate their business. We also organize around traffic congestion times, as well as plan for different weather conditions. With the proper materials, we’re able to create a safe work space for everyone. Lastly, we like to send the customer both before and after pictures of the job with their invoice to assure them that the work was done to their satisfaction.”

Clear pavement marking makes total sense.

“Not only are proper markings important to insure compliance with both the Americans with Disabilities Act and local regulations, they make the right first impression when customers visit your business,” stated Brad Anderson, owner of B&E Coating Services, LLC, northeastern Michigan. “A well-designed and clearly marked parking area makes it easy for customers to find a space and park quickly and easily. You certainly don’t want a customer to visit your establishment and deal with the confusion that an unmarked – or, even worse, an improperly marked — parking lot creates.”

In the final analysis, as Estrada concluded, “Enjoy the work. The fact is, when you leave the project it will be a freshly painted piece of art.”

Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He can be reached through