Finding affordable, quality parking lot striping paint is a must for any striping company. Every dollar extra you spend on paint comes out of your profit and goes into the paint stores pocket. Here is the most amazing thing. You will be buying more striping paint than they do. They buy from the manufacturer and sell to you. It should be the other way around.
In this article I want to cover the up front task of locating parking lot striping paint or traffic paint at a fair price. The information in this article is something that most paint retailers don’t want you to know. They would prefer you purchase your traffic / striping paint from their store at $15 – $20 per gallon instead of you getting it straight from the manufacturer and paying $5 – $10 per gallon. I also want to go over how to get your paint to dry faster in cool weather or at night. This will prevent you from having to buy more expensive quick dry paint.
Since a striping companies main product is paint, it goes without saying that you will be going through a lot of it. Mostly yellow and white and some blue and maybe a little red. In a given year you may go through hundreds of gallons of paint. Much more striping paint than an average paint store will sell or stock. They carry it for the once in a while user who just needs a gallon or five gallons. As a professional parking lot striper, you should never have to pay full price for paint.
Here’s how to find a manufacturer. First, visit several local paint stores and ask to see their traffic paint. Read the bucket and find out who the manufacturer is. Paint is heavy and expensive to ship so the manufacturer is normally going to be fairly close. Make sure to hit all the paint stores so you can develop a good list of traffic paint manufacturers. Write down the name of the companies, find the closest one with the best prices and call them. Set up an account and you are ready to go. You will find that their prices will be around $6- $9 per gallon. (At the time this article was written paint prices were up because of a resin shortage but this will not be permanent)
Also, try the internet. Search using Google for “paint manufacturers” or “traffic paint manufacturer”, etc.. There are several across the country and if you cannot find a local company you can always have a pallet of paint shipped direct. Shipping runs about $100 – $150 for a pallet.
Here is how you can get your paint to dry faster. Simply add a small amount of alcohol to it. NOTE – This is only applicable to water based or water borne traffic paints. Don’t try adding alcohol to oil based paints. We use Isopropol Alcohol from Kmart or CVS but you can also use other types. The paint manufacturer will normally let you know which type they use. I use about 3 ounces per gallon of paint or around a 16 ounce bottle for a 5 gallon pail. Again, check with the striping paint manufacturer about what alcohol is most compatible or do some tests yourself to determine compatibility. They will try to sell you their fast dry paint, but if you press them they will tell you what to use. I have been doing this for years and have not had the first problem. But again, make sure you test it out on a quart or so first. Note – fast dry paint straight from the manufacturer is fine but you will be carrying that plus your regular paint which doubles your inventory. Adding alcohol helped us to keep from having to carry two types of paint.
You may need to carry around $800 – $1000 in paint inventory. That number may need to be increased later depending on the size of your average job and how far you paint supplier is from you. That is around 15 – 20 five gallon pails of paint. Say 9 white, 9 yellow, and 2 blue. This is just an estimate based on our companies inventory level.
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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.