There’s an old saying that goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Whether it’s fair or not the first thing a potential customer or client sees when they pull up to your office building is the parking lot and last thing you want them noticing is how difficult it is to differentiate one parking spot from another.
Pavement marking is something that many people overlook. Most residents or customers may not even notice the pavement markings until they’re almost impossible to see or they pull up after a long weekend and notice the lot has been re-painted.
Regardless of your clientele, the upkeep of the parking lot is not just for aesthetics, but is also required by law.
Codes and Laws Governing Pavement Marking
In most commercial parking lots, a fire lane is required. The purpose of these areas are to ensure fire apparatuses, like fire trucks, have a safe and clear area to pass through in the event of an emergency. Because of this, every city will have its own “fire code” that lays out the specific set of guidelines required of properties within the city limits to adhere.
For example, the City of Dallas’ fire code reads:
“Striping — Fire apparatus access roads shall be marked by painted lines of red traffic paint 6 inches (152 mm) in width to show the boundaries of the lane. The words NO PARKING – FIRE LANE or FIRE LANE – NO PARKING shall appear in 4-inch (102 mm) white letters at 25-foot (7620 mm) intervals on the red border markings along both sides of the fire lanes. Where a curb is available, the striping shall be on the vertical face of the curb.”
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act and local law determines how many parking spaces must be designated handicap, the types of signage and stencils that are allowed to be designate such spaces. These laws also set specific parameters for how wide the handicap spaces must be, how much room there is between spaces that must be cross hatched and how close the parking spaces need to be to any building entrance and handicap ramp.
How Often Should You Paint a Parking Lot?
Having a clearly marked parking area is not only eye popping, but also can play a vital role in the event of an emergency. So that begs the question — just how often should you re-paint your parking lot and what are some options in how you do it?
How is the Weather at Your Property?
For the most part, parking lot upkeep in Texas is tame compared to the rest of the country, especially areas up north. Snowy areas have paint that is affected from salt and speeds up the fading process forcing constant re-painting.
Here, sunlight is the main culprit of fading. You can likely survive with re-painting your parking lot once a year, but we recommend monitoring the paint on a month-by-month basis.
How much foot traffic does the property get in a day?
Another large factor is how many people visit your place of business in a day.
The frequency of restriping a parking lot is directly correlated to how many vehicles you have coming in and out of the property. The more cars are parking and driving through the lot, the more often it will need fresh pavement markings.
Choosing the Right Paint for Your Parking Lot
Being aware of what kind of product is being applied to your surface lot is key in knowing the how long your pavement marking will last. There are different grades of paint depending on the property owner’s budget with chlorinated rubber being the least expensive and different grades of acrylic being more expensive.
Different types and grades of paint behave differently. Some paints will track up very easily with tire marks. Some paints are more glossy than others. Some have better traction than others when wet. Some work better on asphalt and some work better in parking garages that don’t get sun or rain. Make sure your contractor is using paint that meets your expectations and is the correct paint for the particular application.
Here at C&D, we almost always recommend using a type of high quality acrylic paint, which we believe will grant the pavement markings their longest possible life.
Beware of Low Pavement Marking Bids
Unfortunately, many property owners/managers won’t look into the quality of what is being put down in their parking lot and they’ll unknowingly be sold on a low quality, watered down paint.
Water based paints are much cheaper than oil based paint because water itself is much cheaper than solvent thinning-agents. Water based paint also is much more affected by the elements which shortens the paint’s life span on the pavement.
Also, beware that a really low pavement marking bid could mean your contractor is cutting corners such as shooting thinner lines than the standard 4″ parking and 6″ fire lane lines or “cutting” the paint with xylene to make it thinner and cover more area.
So while a low-budget pavement marking job may look nice once you receive the quote, just know that you’ll end up paying more in the long run when you’re having to re-paint six or so months down the line.