MAX TIP SIZE — What is the largest tip the line striper will support? Larger tip sizes will allow you to move faster while applying the proper mil thickness of paint.
Striper Feature 3: Air vs. Airless
Air-powered systems require compressed air and a hopper to atomize coatings. Air-atomized sprayers are simpler in design and can be less expensive to maintain. With this type of system though, the coating typically needs to be thinned before striping.
In the past 10 years, there has been a large movement from conventional air-spray systems to airless technology. This type of system uses gasoline or electricity to power the engine and a clutch or hydraulics to power the pump. “Contractors who are looking to add to their fleet of parking lot machines should consider upgrading to airless walk-behind machines,” Hess says. “These machines put down a better line than air-atomized machines. The paint line will dry faster when airless is used, only because you are not injecting moisture into the paint line as you do with air-atomized units.”
Striper Feature 4: Accessories
When you’re just learning the business, everything you do may seem like a challenge. The more you know, the more you’ll see there are tools and accessories designed to make striping easier.
Spray Tips: It is always a good idea to have a variety of tip sizes on hand that fit your striper. This will give you versatility for striping single thin lines to thicker curbs.
Light Kits:“A must have for contractors striping at night,” says Heine.
Gun Configuration: Be sure you buy a striper that has a user-friendly gun configuration. Guns should be easy to move up and down, left and right. The entire gun system can be mounted on the left or right side, front or back of the line-striper depending on the job you’re doing. Heine says that gun extensions are also a great tool for painting stencils (handicap logos, fire lane, reserved etc.).
Cleaning Agent: Have this on hand to clean and protect your spray system against rust and corrosion. “If the machine is maintained, the performance will be greater than a machine that is left sit with paint in the lines and gun,” Hess says. This could cause plugging in the strainers, hoses and paint guns.
Piston Lube: Specially formulated to prevent material from adhering to the piston rod and keeps your packings and seals lubricated, which extends the overall life of the pump.
Laser Pointer: Attached to the striping machine, this is a great tool for keeping your lines straight.
Glass Bead Dispenser: Wehner says about 20% of all striping jobs require glass beads, so your striper should have a glass bead dispenser. Glass bead dispensing systems mount on to your striper and are designed to deposit retro-reflective glass beads on traffic paint lines. When the gun(s) are actuated, the bead dispenser door opens simultaneously with the gun and a shower of beads the width of the dispenser is then deposited onto the wet paint line(s). The amount of beads dispensed is easily adjustable, but Heine adds six pounds of beads per gallon is a general rule of thumb.
Stencils: When choosing a stencil, manufacturers say to go with one that is durable and lays flat on surfaces.
Spray Shield: A spray shield can help to protect the spray pattern from the wind, which limits overspray and material costs. They are adjustable and easy to remove.
Growing Your Business
As a line striping contractor’s business grows, it is necessary to add equipment to the fleet. “Being efficient and profitable is key,” says Heine. “Having two or more stripers is a good way to be efficient if you’re working on larger jobs as you do not have to clean the machine if you’re using different colors, like white stripes and blue for handicap stalls.”
Wehner agrees, adding that “the larger the contractor, the more likely they have dedicated units. Changing out colors is time consuming and time is money,” he says.