All About Line Painting: Making Parking Lots Look New
After months of being buried under snow, ice, sand, salt and puddles, by the time spring comes, most parking lots are looking a little weathered and are ready for a refresh. One of the best ways to make your parking lot look new—and make it useful—is with fresh parking lot lines.
Is it that time of year for your business? We talked to our Kelowna line painting expert Ken Johnston to share everything you need to know about line painting in commercial parking lots and parkades.
Why is line painting so beneficial?
Every day, before your customers are greeted by staff, before they even open the front door under your sign, they drive into your parking lot. If that’s a good experience—the stall lines are clear and the lot is tidy and taken care of, your customers will feel that.
If it’s not a good experience—the stall lines have faded and cars are parked erratically, the asphalt has cracks and potholes, and the sidewalks are grimy—customers will feel that too.
Sometimes we underestimate the importance of that first impression in the parking lot.
“We have some customers in Penticton and Vernon who have their lines painted every spring just because of how it brightens everything and makes the parking lot easier to use,” says Johnston, GRM business development manager, Okanagan operations, adding done well, parking lot line paint should last about two years.
There are more benefits to line painting than you might think:
- Customer satisfaction
What do you need to do to get ready for line painting?
Winters in Canada give parking lots a beating and come with a lot of grime. To help ensure your line painting job lasts, it’s important to get the surface ready. Here is the order of parking lot spring maintenance steps we take before and after line painting to make our customers’ lots shine and for the paint to last.
Depending on the snow removal and de-icing products used in your lot over winter, the parking lot lines might be up against, gravel, salt and ice melters.
“We use anti-ice spray because gravel is like sandpaper—it can grind the lines bare,” says Johnston. “You can always tell a lot that’s been sprayed or one that’s used sand and gravel.”
Whatever de-icing materials are used, after a long winter, a good sweep with a machine sweeper is critical to suck away the grime and create a clean, smooth canvas for line painting.
A good rinse ensures any remaining dirt is cleaned away.
- Seal cracks
If you really want to get the most life out of your parking lot, we always recommend asphalt seal cracking at this stage for preventative parking lot maintenance. By filling in the cracks that arise over winter, you’re ensuring a smooth, safe surface and extending the life of your lot.
What’s the difference between crack sealing and sealcoating? Johnston explains that sealcoating is a good option for a facelift. When combined with regular maintenance, sealcoating gives you a longer parking lot life before requiring a full replacement.
A new parking lot should last about 20 years at minimum and up to 50 years if the lot is maintained well and crack sealing is kept up.
Crack sealing brings those visible black trails of asphalt so they’re less appealing to the eye but provide a lot more value in parking lot life.
- Repair asphalt
If potholes have turned up in your parking lot over the winter or your curbs have eroded, now is the time for asphalt repair to ensure customers have smooth, safe travels in your lot. Left unfixed, small cracks and potholes will continue to grow, creating hazards and greater expenses in the long run.
- Line painting
The step you’ve been waiting for! Now your lot is ready for those bright white and yellow lines that help people park and find their way around your lot.
How do you paint parking lot lines?
At our Kelowna-based commercial property maintenance company, we use the most advanced striper marker machines to ensure:
- Consistent widths (most lots use four-inch stall lines, some are three inches)
- Straight lines
- Excellent paint coverage
Ahead of putting the striper marker to work, if we’re doing new paint lines, we mark out every line with a string using a laser to guide the middle of each line.
Wondering whether you should use yellow or white for your parking lot line painting?
“Both are very bright and visible and it’s really up to the customer in a parking lot,” says Johnston.
When it comes to line painting and parking lot maintenance, using the best machinery and the best products at the best time makes all the difference.
What causes line paint failure?
It seems like a project that should be pretty straight forward and go ahead without fail, but line painting can go wrong—with lines fading much too quickly—for one of three reasons, including:
- The wrong kind of paint is used
What kind of paint do you use for parking lot lines? For lasting line painting, Johnston says quality road paint has to be used.
“Regular white or yellow paint just isn’t road worthy and won’t stand up to the elements or being driven over.”
In recent years, there’s been a parking lot paint shortage due to challenges with the pigment used in high quality road paint and that’s led to some unsuccessful experimenting.
At GRM, with our strong and longstanding supplier relationships, we’ve been able to continuously secure the high-quality road paint our clients expect.
- Line painting is performed when it’s too cold
In order for the paint to cure properly, the temperature needs to be warm. What’s the best temperature for line painting?
“We do line painting in the late spring and summer because you need the day’s low to be above 8 or 9C,” says Johnston, adding most parking lot stalls are painted at night so it’s less disruptive to the business, and paying attention to the low for the day is important.
For line painting on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and in the Thompson- Okanagan (including Osoyoos, Penticton and Vernon), temperatures can permit line painting from late April to early September.
For line painting in northern BC and the Prairies (Prince George, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Winnipeg), that window is much shorter—often just June through August.
“Getting the timing right is a big deal,” says Johnston. “We’d rather reschedule a line painting job and wait to make sure we’ve got the weather we need to have the paint cure well and last a long time.
- Line painting is done when the pavement is too damp
If it’s rained and the asphalt hasn’t had a chance to dry, or it rains shortly after painting, the line paint becomes patchy and can even peel right off. Having professionals paying close attention to the weather and shifting to coordinate areas to close off ahead of time is important.
Beyond stall lines, what else can you consider painting in a parking lot?
Bright white or yellow lines to signal boundaries of a parking lot stall are just the start. Our commercial property maintenance company also paints:
- Mobility stalls (a specific blue must be used)
- Arrows to indicate traffic patterns
- Stripes to indicate no parking/waiting zones in front of doors and customer crossing areas
- Stencil text to denote:
- Visitor parking
- Staff parking
- Loading zones
- Doctor names
- Custom directions
The easier it is for your customers to safely and efficiently navigate your parking lot, the more satisfaction they’ll associate with your business.
How do you estimate parking lot line painting services?
Creating an estimate for parking lot painting is simple: It’s based on the amount of paint that will be needed. Depending on your location, at GRM, we can use Google Earth to determine the number of lines that will be needed, or, if we provide four-seasons commercial property maintenance, we can also count lines (and additions, such as curbs and mobility stalls) during a spring inspection site visit.
Beyond parking lot painting, what else might your parking lot need?
When the stall lines have faded, it’s easy to tell it’s time for painting, but what else could help you get the most life and function out of your parking lot, and give it an impressive appearance?
Our property management experts provide spring inspections to identify some of the less obvious ways you can extend the life of your parking lot and avoid repairs that are more costly later.
- Filling in potholes
- Creating speedbumps
- Asphalt road repairs
- Refreshing concrete sidewalks and curbs
At GRM, we know every aspect of parking lot maintenance. With expertise and the best machinery and products—we help your business benefit from a parking lot maintained to last, look great and function well.
Are you considering vendors for parkade or parking lot line painting? Reach out to our experts and get an estimate. We serve businesses of all sizes across BC, Alberta and in Winnipeg.