The Blog

 The latest humor and wisdom from Robert Liles, founder of the Parking Lot Planet.

Here in Texas, and other places around the country, fire lane are marked by painting red curbs, or red lines on the pavement on each side of the fire lane. It’s required to mark it with stenciled wording every 20-25 feet with words like “FIRE LANE” “NO PARKING” and or “TOW AWAY ZONE”. That can add up to dozens, or even hundreds of stencils painted on a job. Using the same stencil over and over again results in paint build-up and drips, so some stripers bring 30-40 stencils to a job.


New line painters often ask me if there is any way they can do good work without snapping chalklines.  After all, they say, snapping chalklines is such a pain in the butt. My first reaction is to say that snapping chalklines is easy and quick!  But that's not what they want to hear. Snapping lines really is easy if you know what you are doing, but I will get to that in a moment. First, lets look at the alternatives to snapping lines:


For the last 15 years, I have striped mostly newly paved parking lots. There’s several different ways to make the layout marks that guide you to paint straight lines. I have tried string and weights or nails, rotating lasers, and chalklines. I use a Graco Auto Layout machine and have tried painting without lines. I have painted alongside a string, or used upside-down spray cans to “dot” the string and painted to the shadow left by the string. I have measured how long each method takes, and how well (if at all) they work.

It takes a little practice to get good and fast at snapping chalkines, but it’s what works best for me.  Plus, chalklines give you the chance to look over the layout and spot mistakes and weird angles and such before painting.

Nowadays, I rely on my Magnum chalkline and Defi HQ blue chalk for 90% of all the lines I paint. I have determined that it’s the quickest way to get a great layout.