Monday, June 28, 2010

I am not a Professional Striper.

It's been another busy week for us.

(Every week is, though, so that's nothing new.)

Last Monday, I striped our parking lot. The lines were really faded, so it seemed like a good idea. The previous owner told us it was one of the best things he ever did, and he said you can call up a company and they'll come out and paint the stripes for like $100.

Here is a "before" picture:

But we only have 7 or 8 stripes, so I was like, "NO PROBLEM! I'll just do it!" Because I have experience with that sort of thing, anyway.*

So I found out that there was striping paint that you could just buy(!)** at Lowie's or HD, to do parking lots. Piece of cake! It's called "Striping Paint"*** because it's for making stripes. And it would seem like stripes would always be for parking lots, but it turns out there are SO MANY USES for striping paint.**** In fact, striping paint is such a big deal that there is a whole secret code for what colors you're supposed to use when you stripe things. [The legend (key?) is on boxes of things, in case you don't know it. One example is, you don't use red paint for painting parking lines.] They also make marking paint, which can be used for stripes. It's more popular for marking gas lines, or power lines, or trees to cut down, though.

So anyway, I really looked into it and I saw online that you can paint stripes with either a striping machine thing, or with a marking wand thing. The difference is, the striping machine (about $100) has four intense (all-terrain! (I think)) wheels, to keep things really straight, and the line you spray can vary in width. The marking wand (about $20) just has a little wheel to keep things as straight as you can draw them.
I decided that I was not a hard-core enough parking-striper to buy a special striping machine. The wand would work for me! So I went and bought my can of striping paint (to cover 250 ft! Wow!), and a wand. I bought some pink plastic DON'T GO HERE! tape, so that I could block off the parking lot and our tenants would remember NOT TO GO THERE.

On Friday I posted a sign on everyone's doors to say:
1. We're re-painting the parking lot stripes on Monday!
2. Please move your cars by 8:30 am and don't plan to park in the lot again until 7 pm! (Because I knew I would probably be there at 9:00 or so, and I wanted to give them a little extra time to be moved. Also, the paint said it would take 8 hours to dry, so I wanted to allow myself an hour or so, just in case it took me longer to paint than I thought it would, plus plenty of time for things to dry.)
3. If you don't move your car, I reserve the right to tow it, at your expense. (To emphasize that it was important, and just in case.) Buuut, please just plan to park somewhere else, pretty please.

It was a great sign! It even had a border and a giant can of paint in the lower corner, just like people would expect.

So on Monday morning, I gathered my striping paint, and my marking wand, and my pink tape, and some masking tape (just in case!) and I headed off to the property.

A car was still parked there, but two of the other tenants who were home had moved their cars to the street. (Good job, guys!) The car was parked on one end, so I decided I would just block it off, and then if I could, I would paint around it. And if not, then I would knock on doors and ask whoever it was to move it. Or maybe paint another day. Towing cars is pretty mean, I think.

So I put up my pink DON'T GO HERE tape, and I stretched it from the fence on one side, allllllll the way across the ends of the parking spaces, down to the mailboxes. I tightened it so that it would remain as taut as it could for being stretched so far with no support in the middle.

I started laying out masking tape, so that I would be able to see my lines really clearly. The existing lines were pretty worn out, so I just wanted to be sure that I did a good job, and kept the lines pretty straight.

I taped up one line and part of a second one, and then I ran out of masking tape.

Oh well! No big deal!

But the tape didn't stick too well (because it's an old parking lot, and the asphalt is gravel in a lot of places now). So I would use my hand to brush the little rocks away, and tape it down where it was coming up. I also brushed the rocks out of the parking line area, because OF COURSE if you paint lines on gravel it's going to look pretty bad pretty quickly.

I was ready to go!

I pulled the marking wand out, and I assembled it, by attaching the wheel. It popped right in! Good!

I read the instructions. Twice. And then I shook the can (vigorously!) for a full two minutes after I could hear the little metal ball inside. I took the cap off of the striping paint, and put the can in the wand, and I think I lined things up right, and I went over to my taped line, and I lined it up straight in the middle of the space to be painted. (You've got to be careful with lining things up when you're using a wand instead of a striping machine, but it's just a sacrifice you have to make.)

I pulled the trigger on the wand, and...

Nothing happened.

I rolled the wand back and forth, and click, click, clicked the trigger.


I picked it up, and looked at it, and I wondered if maybe I hadn't lined it up right. Maybe I had mixed up the thing something was supposed to be parallel with, and it wasn't working right. So I turned the can around, and put it down, and centered it...

And nothing happened when I tried to stripe that time either.

So I looked at how it was working. The little lever needed to hit the top of the paint can, and it seemed like it did, but it just wasn't working. I sprayed the striping paint, to be sure that it wasn't unusually difficult, or clogged, or something. It worked.


I called Rust-Oleum to see if we could figure it out together, but they were currently experiencing a high call volume. So I stayed on the line, but I continued trying to get it to work.

After several minutes of it not working, and several minutes of Rust-Oleum queue music, I headed towards Lowe's. Obviously there was either something wrong with my striping paint, or with my wand. Maybe the wand thing that pokes the top of the can wasn't assembled facing the right direction.

Halfway to Lowe's, Rust-Oleum answered. I explained the problem, and explained that I was on my way to the store, to see what was wrong. The Rust-Oleum girl was like, "OH, well, I know exactly what your problem is." I told her, "Oh! Great! You do?"

Her: "Yes. You see, you're using the marking wand with striping paint. That's not gonna work. The tops are shaped differently. That's why it isn't working. That's not gonna work. With the marking wand you've got to use marking paint."

Me: "Ohhhhh, so if I want to use striping paint, I need to use the more expensive machine. See, I'm new to this. I've never done this before, and it's just for our little parking lot. So I just thought stripes were a kind of marking, so they seemed like the same thing to me. [Chuckle.]"

Her: "Yeahhh. ... No, you can use the marking paint, though, and that will work for you."

Me: "Even for parking lots? The lines won't be as good though, will they? I thought the marking paint was for like, marking gas lines and things. Can I still get crisp lines with the marking paint?"

Her (reassuringly): "Oh, yeah. The marking paint works for parking lots too. It won't last quite as long, and it won't be quite as crisp of lines as you would get if you were using striping, but..."

Me: "Right...that's understandable."

Her: "But. Yeah, you can still get that crisp line you're looking for."

Me: "Ohhh, okay. Well, I guess I'll do that, then. That should work. I'm still driving to the store, so I'll just plan to get that instead, and now I don't need to figure out what's wrong. [Chuckle.] Thanks."

Her: "Okay. And don't get mad at the people working at the hardware store for it, because that's what you bought.." [Or something like that.]

Me: [Confused.] "What? Oh. ... No. I'm not a mean customer like that. I'm just going to get the marking paint instead. ... All right. Thanks for your help. Have a good day."

Her: "You too. Goodbye."

I wasn't like, angry on the call, so I don't know why she told me to not get mad at the hardware store. But, whatever, it was nice to know what the problem was.

So I got to Lowe's and I went in, and I grabbed a can of (white) marking paint, and some masking tape (just in case), and I hustled back to the parking lot.

I could see that the top of the paint was totally different, just like she had mentioned. I shook that paint for a couple minutes, got it centered on my taped up line, and started spraying.

And it sprayed! made such a skinny (and semi-transparent!) line that I had to go back and forth, back and forth to get to the sides, and to make it opaque enough. I taped up the second line the rest of the way, and I started spraying that line. And then, I ran out of marking paint.

After 1 1/2 lines!

[Please note: most of the white in the picture is masking tape.]

Good grief.

So I could see that marking paint was not going to work for me. It didn't look very good. The lines were not crisp at all (except for what the masking tape did), and they weren't very solid, and I went through the stuff SO fast. It wasn't even all that windy! And I had brushed the gravel away!

I drove to Home Depot and got myself a paint-striper. I bought another can of striping paint, too, just in case.

And I drove back, shook the can (vigorously!) for two minutes, and put it in the machine. It worked! I ended up needing to brush away gravel on all of the stripes, and that was a pain, but our parking lot is re-striped!*****

So, I'm pretty happy with how that all went. Now that we own a marking wand and a striping machine, plus I used three cans of paint (1 marking, 2 striping), the job cost us about $150 plus 3 hours of time (instead of $100 and no time). So, it was not the most profitable decision, at least for the short-term. But now I know what's up--I know the difference between marking and striping. And if anyone wants me to paint parking lines for them, I have the tools!

(It kind of makes me want to set up a race. Because I could maybe find temporary marking paint, and then it would be just like what they use for 5Ks and stuff. Not sure what I would raise money for, if I had a race. But I should probably think about that, since, of course, the only thing people really need in order to have a race is a marking wand, right?)

When I finished at about noon, I hurried home to take Chalcy outside, and then I hurried over to J's parents' house, because J's dad had volunteered to fix sprinklers with me.

* One time, (in California) I was walking over to the grocery store from the little Italian restaurant where I worked, and there was a guy re-painting the STOP letters on the asphalt, in the parking lot. I'd never seen anyone do that before! So I stopped and asked him about it. He was using a (big!) stencil and some paint, and rolling it out. It was pretty simple, he said. He offered to let me do one of the letters, and I DID. I thought it was kind of cool. So, I have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, actually, you know?
** As long as you are 18 or older.
*** (which I always confuse with "Stripping Paint" so it looks more risque than it actually is, but what would "stripping paint" even be used for anyway? Usually stripping is removing, not adding, so like, for removing paint from walls, I think you use a stripping solvent or something. I don't know.)
**** Like painting aisles. Or basketball courts. Etc.
***** Except for the one paint line by the car, because I ran out of paint right then anyway. (And the store was all out. And I was tired of doing that project, because I thought it would take like an hour, and it was already almost noon.)


MamaErin said...

Oh, STRIPER, not STRIPPER!! I totally read the title of your blog incorrectly. I was thinking "um of course she's not a professional stripper, unless she's writing about some unsuccessful romantic evening with J that none of us really want to read about!"

Ashley and Garrett said...

That was hilarious. You should write a book of short stories about your new found handiness.

Hah, I have to do a word verification to post this and the word is "ighte".

Well, ighte...I better go. :)

Ashley and Garrett said...

I was telling Garrett about this story earlier today and I wanted to check my facts, so I re-read it and I laughed all over again. Garrett didn't think it was as funny as I did.

Also, you know how you had "prior experience*" with the whole thing? It reminded me just now of when I told Garrett I totally knew how to re-tile the bathroom at our old house. I was like, "Oh yeah, it's totally easy.." And so he kept asking me all these questions about it when he was doing it.

You see, I had watched my dad do some tiling when I was ten. ALSO I took an art class in high school and we had to make a

Paul K. said...

Thanks to the magic of the internet, I found your post and you've explained why the marking wand wasn't working for me. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Just the information I was looking for, thank you! Off to buy a striping machine and to figure out what to do with this magic marking wand...

Unknown said...

Thank you very much for this. My son was looking to help out my wife's office and stripe 11 spots. should be easy!? Got the exact same things (spray striping paint and marking wand) from HD on their recommendation. I tried getting it to work here at home and no luck. Called Rustoleum and got a woman with the same story! And really since you wrote your blog - think they would clarify things on their packaging?! Some calls to HD and telling them they are wrong and my son went and bought a gallon of striping paint.

Paul P said...


Paul P said...


Blogger said...

I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers strip-teasing on my taskbar.

Anonymous said...

I am a professional parking lot mantaince
Contractor with special loc for marking and graphics you as a home owner would be better with 4in roller and a straight 2×4 and roll down it any exterior paint will work same as striping paint and last twice as long as rattle cans i have striping airless for working I have been voted 1 pavement contractor in America for the last 3 years next time ask a pro

James Parsons said...

Using a roller to paint stripes on pavement or asphalt works, but the results look shoddy like a four year old did the work. The paint doesn't adhere to the road surface very well giving a flaky/bubbly look on the paint. I know this because it's how my landlord does it every 2-3 months because it begins to look old after only a few days and deteriorates daily from there. If this is your recommendation,then you must know a technique that I don't. Not saying you're wrong, but I haven't seen this striping method turn out looking professional. Does it work? Yes. Only if you don't care about how it looks lol

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