In recent years, property owners and managers may have noticed that the line paint in their parking lots is fading more quickly and, consequently, needs to be reapplied more frequently. A reason for this change may be new Environment Canada regulations that set a limit on volatile organic compounds (VOC) in traffic-marking coatings. The VOC regulations, which are aimed at improving air quality, took effect in September 2012.
Since then, line-painting companies that are doing or redoing traffic marking coatings in parking lots have been required to use paint with lower concentrations of VOC. They have found this paint does not last as long as the paint previously used. One method for increasing the longevity of lower-VOC paint is to add glass beads.
Taking into account the impact of the new regulations, regular line repainting should be done at least every two years. It’s not only a low-cost way to keep a parking lot look sharp and well-maintained, but it also demonstrates the condo board and property manager’s due diligence by promoting safety. Lines show drivers where to park and where not to park (e.g. a fire lane). They also show pedestrians where to cross or walk. Painted speed bumps encourage drivers to slow down, while arrows can help show traffic flow. Marking parking spots indicates who should park where, including unit numbers and accessible spots, and maximizes the number of parking spots available.
It’s not just product choice that affects the longevity of line paint. The weather conditions in which it’s applied matter. Line paint is best applied at an air temperature of 10 degrees Celsius or warmer. If a contractor paints a parking lot when the weather is not ideal, the work may not hold up as long as it should, in which case the repainting will have to be done sooner, costing more money. Depending on the weather, the line-painting season typically spans from early April to mid-October. Incidentally, the arrival of spring weather also reveals the damage of winter weather to parking lots and roads, such as faded or non-existent line paint. Keep in mind, asphalt that must be repaired should be repaired first.
When it comes to line painting, less is more. If curbs and other non-parking areas are painted, the condo board or property manager is obligated to maintain the traffic coating. If a concrete curb is painted and the paint is begins to wear off, the paint must be scrapped off before new paint can be applied. Otherwise, the new paint won’t stick as well as it should. Paint flakes off of concrete sooner than asphalt. On asphalt, new paint can be repainted over existing lines without a problem.
Regular parking spots generally measure 18 feet deep (5.49 metres) and nine feet wide (2.74 metres). As a rule of thumb, allow 24 feet (7.32 metres) for a two-way road. Accessible parking spaces generally measure 18 feet deep (5.49 metres) and 12 feet wide (3.66 metres). Double check the local municipality’s accessible parking bylaws, as signage and stencils vary. When working with a line-painting company, consider using fewer stencils and more hatch marks because the company may have trouble getting its stencil(s) to match a previous company’s work. Re-stenciling on top of a differently sized stencil looks sloppy.
Although two years is a good guideline for how often to repaint parking lot lines, high-traffic locations may demand more frequent touch-ups. For example, arrows showing the “right” way in or out of a complex will likely need to be painted more often. If line repainting is left too long, it may cost more because a lot layout needs to be added to the estimate. Like repainting a parking lot with lines so faded they’re no longer visible, painting a newly repaved parking lot is more complex and is therefore costlier and more time-intensive.
Rod Campbell is president of Addaline Asphalt Maintenance. His company was established in 2005 and serves the GTA, Southwestern Ontario and points in between.