There are quite a few parking lot striping machines on the market. The decision of which to buy can be a difficult one and is influenced by both your budget and your striping needs. This article is meant to point you in the right direction. We have reviewed many of the striping machines on the market today and have individual articles posted in our “Parking Lot Striping Machine Review” category. You can see these reviews by CLICKING HERE. Also, when looking for a machine you will come across both new and used striping equipment (stripers). A used machine is fine but a worn out machine is not. Make sure you are getting a good quality used machine and not someones problems. Also, make sure it is a good brand like Graco, Proline, Kelly Cresswell or Trusco Trueline. You need to be able to find parts.
Line striping machines can be broken down into four basic categories:
The first category would be machines that are not capable of doing commercial work. This would be the spray can type machines or the type with a paint roller instead of a spray head. These machines are fine for what they were intended to do but should not be mistaken for commercial production machines. That is not to say that you should not buy one. I say this because the little machines sometimes come in handy for different odd spray jobs you may encounter. I use one myself. When I have one last line to do and there are cars in the way I will take out my spray can striper and do the last stripe. I also use it for putting down the small dotted lines for curved stripes. Then I use my big machine and connect the dots. The reason you would not use the machine for commercial work is mainly the expense of laying down a stripe. You have to go over the line at least twice to get a satisfactory stripe. The cost per stripe is several times more than a standard machine.
The next type of machine would be the low end commercial machine. These would be the pump up models for the most part. I would also put some of the small airless machines in this category. These machines will put out a good stripe but are not adequate for high production work. Trusco Manufacturing has a machine called the Model 20 which is in this category. It is great for shopping center owners who want to maintain their own parking lots and for small striping contractors doing small jobs but for large jobs it is a little on the small side. You would need to pump it up every few stripes which can become tedious after a while. I have seen where people have purchased the pump up models and later convert them with a pressure tank. This seems to work fine but buying a machine that is made for higher production work may be the better solution. There is a gasoline powered machine in this class called a Powerliner that has a small Robin-Subaru engine. It will put out a nice stripe, but is still a step below a full size model.
The third type of machine is what I would call a standard high production or full size parking lot striper. These are machines that are capable of putting out high production. There are several companies that manufacture these machines. Graco is probably one of the more popular companies. They manufacture the Graco Line Lazer or Laser. It has a powerful Honda engine and a high pressure pump that will pull paint straight from a bucket and spray perfect lines. Proline, Titan, Airlessco and Trusco all manufacture nice commercial machines. Kelly Creswell also makes an air atomized unit that is popular. These machines almost always have a detachable sprayer for doing curbing and stencils. You can also angle the spray head for curbs and bumpers. Having a high production striper can save many valuable man hours per job. The extra money you spend on the nicer machines is often returned to you in labor cost savings within the first year.
The last type of striper is going to be the large road stripers. Many of these are the type you ride on, tow or mount to a truck. While they are a necessity for road striping, they are too large for parking lot striping.
In conclusion, if you are only planning on doing small lots and always plan to keep your company small then the small pump up type striper is fine. If you are wanting to make more money and stripe larger lots the full size units are a must. Also, preventive maintenance is crucial with the stripers. Clean them after each use and keep the engine and pump maintained. If you can learn to work on your parking lot striper yourself, you will not only save on repairs but you will also reduce company downtime which is normally more costly than the repair itself.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida, Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 30 years experience in the parking lot striping business. Expert in reflective visibility solutions.