Navigating the Art of Parking Lot Striping

By Mark “Captain Striper” Estrada Jr.

So you’ve landed yourself a new parking lot to stripe. Congratulations! You’re about to make the world a little more organized one parking spot at a time but before you dive headfirst into this striping adventure, let’s go over some key steps to ensure your project goes smoothly and safely, from start to finish.

First things first, you want to make sure you are in a safe working environment. This includes inspecting your equipment, trailer, and job site. Address any hazards before you start.

Next, have all the necessary supplies on hand. This includes safety cones, high-quality paint, spray tips, stencils, marking chalk or crayon, measuring tape and chalk-line, or better yet, a striper line-driver combo with Auto Layout and Guidance Laser capabilities.

Layout time! To start, it’s vital to know the surface that you’re striping on. The material is only as good as the foundation that it is getting applied to. If it’s concrete, I would recommend a pressure wash. Asphalt will need a good sweep and blow if it’s dirty. ALWAYS let sealcoat fully cure before paint application. Don’t skip this step!

Next, you’ll need to plan out the layout of the parking lot. Always remember the layout starts at a set baseline. Your mission is to square up the base with an established landmark. Normally it will be at the front of the business with the established curbs and ramps. Find your boundaries and build from there. Once the base and boundaries are established, it’s time to determine the size, type, and number of parking spaces you’re trying to accomplish, as well as any special markings, such as handicap spots, loading zones, hash areas, and fire lanes. it’s crucial to measure everything out accurately and know your parking lot code to avoid any issues later on. I always tell my team “Measure Twice, Stripe Once”. Safety and Quality should be your mantra.

Once you have the layout mapped out, it’s time to start the application. Fire up that striper, feel up the chalk box, calibrate your laser, and get to work. Make sure to use steady even strokes to ensure lines are precise and accurate. Apply a second coat to new layouts for a superb final product. Take your time at the beginning. Then when you start to feel your flow, it’s go time!

But beware, my friend, it’s not just “stripes and lollipops” for there are some potential headaches that could arise during your striping escapade. Mother Nature may decide to rain on your parade, quite literally. So make sure you are up-to-date on the forecast. Let your team know to keep their head on a swivel and watch out for one another. Pay attention to those pesky uneven surfaces which can throw off your perfectly straight lines. Talk to your customer to make sure irrigation will be turned off and lights will stay on, if working at night. Document these communications!

Now, as you put the finishing touches on your freshly striped parking lot, lift your barricades. After the paint is fully cured, take a step back and admire your hard work. You’ve just transformed a bland expanse of pavement into a well-organized and visually appealing piece of art. For successful layout, It’s the littlest details that make up the biggest difference. RISE TO THE CHALLENGE….and hey maybe you can even manage to have a little fun along the way. Who knew striping a parking lot could be so thrilling?

Until next time, Happy Striping!

-Captain Striper

Mark Estrada, Jr. is a Co-founder and Director of Operations at Marathon Solutions Group, a Rose Paving company based out of Houston, Texas. He can be reached at