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Best Method to Epoxy Stripe Your Warehouse or Distribution Center

What’s the big deal, all striping is basically the same right? That is what a lot of people may think but couldn’t be further from the truth. When deciding on what type of striping material to use there are a variety of options to choose from and each has its benefits and downsides. To learn more about that, visit our Blog Posts: Best Techniques To Properly Finish and Stripe a Warehouse Floor Part 1 & 2. In this article we are going to assume you have made the choice to use epoxy striping in your warehouse and want to make sure you are doing it correctly. You’ve made wise choice. As a warehouse professional, you probably already know that everything on the distribution center floor sees heavy traffic and eventually shows wear and tear. We are here to let you know that two-part epoxy with shotblast preparation is one of the longest lasting striping options there is on the market. But don’t be fooled, if you don’t install the striping correctly you may be disappointed with the result.

Not all installers are the same. Some installers use inferior equipment and epoxy material which will unfortunately provide you with inferior results. Some installers also may not have extensive experience with epoxy material because their true expertise lies with painting walls or do parking lot striping. Although those are important skills, they do not crossover well into the epoxy striping world. A contractor who uses the best equipment and highest quality epoxy, combined with years of experience is what will help you achieve superior results, and give you the best return on your investment. But that’s not easy to find. In some cases, the striping vendor will make promises, but the finished product is sub-par, and can only leave you very disappointed, but also possibly in a position of having to explain to higher-ups the poor-quality workmanship you unknowingly authorized. We want to help you navigate through these pitfalls by providing you with the information you need to make a great decision that will make you happy and create a safer and more efficient warehouse environment. So instead of having to explain poor workmanship, you’ll find yourself receiving praise from those you report to for a job well done!

“You get what you pay for” – it’s not just a saying, it’s more of a universal truth. When making purchasing decisions personally or professionally, we typically want the best but, in some cases, we may be working with a limited budget, don’t want to pay that much, or a purchasing decision may be driven by the “low bid” requirement. But what constitutes value? Price alone? Of course not. And are the things you are comparing 100% equal? In most cases, no.

When purchasing an airline ticket, you have many choices that are associated with price points. Typically, the cheapest seats have little to no legroom and elbowroom, poor inflight service, flights are overbooked, and regularly come with upcharges on luggage. You may even have concerns for the plane’s maintenance and safety the entire time you are in the air. Did you get what you paid for?

Let’s say you want to go to a concert or sporting event and even though you could have purchased a decent ticket you chose to purchase the least expensive seats (nosebleeds). When the event starts, you come to realize you are so far removed from the action that the experience is not satisfying because you can’t see and hear it very well and you could have enjoyed it just as much or more on TV or at a local establishment televising it. Would your experience have been much better if you paid the higher amount for the ticket? Did you get what you paid for? There are a million examples like this. I’m sure you have some of your own stories relating to a restaurant, clothing items, a car purchase, car repair, electronics, or any number of things.

We recently had a customer call us because they were extremely unhappy – their new epoxy stripes done by another vendor were failing too quickly. The stripes were sloppy and unevenly installed with poor workmanship. We proposed a solution to them to completely remove everything and do it right. This came at a higher cost than they originally paid the other contractor, naturally. However, our method was superior and came with a warranty. Still having a sour taste in their mouth from the other vendor, they approved a quarter of their warehouse because they had been burned once before and were lacking trust that we could deliver. We performed that section as promised and shortly after the client approved the remaining warehouse. We’ve been doing work for them ever since. Lesson learned: It is better and less expensive to do it right the first time around, than having to go back and fix a mistake (see pics below of poorly installed striping)

We have seen epoxy striping applied to a surface that was hand grinded. The epoxy was still intact and adhering to the concrete, but heavy uneven swirl marks scared the concrete showing through the epoxy. The end result is not attractive and isn’t a method we recommend. Shot-Blasting provides a more even texture.

Best Time to Install Epoxy stripes

As a contractor we can provide the best value for installing epoxy stripes if our work can be performed during normal business hours, with no restrictions/obstructions, allowing us to perform the work in a single continual phase. These conditions typically align with the Start-Up of a distribution center when the building is unoccupied. Labor costs are lower if the work can be done during normal business hours and the production per hour tends to be higher. Obstructions and/or restrictions will slow down production equating to higher costs due to down-time or change orders. Epoxy also requires up to 5-7 days to fully cure making it a good idea to align it with your start-up if possible, rather than after you move in and are active in the warehouse.

If it is unavoidable and the work must be performed while the building is occupied, and shot blasting is to be included, we recommend providing as much area as possible to the contractor to get a good rate. A target of 1,800 to 2,000 linear feet is a good amount to shoot for. If your staging lanes are 50’ long, that would be (36 to 40) staging lane stripes per day, then allowing for cure-time.

Let’s Talk Shotblast

Shotblasting is like sandblasting, but instead of forcibly projecting sand, small metal balls are pelted at the concrete to rough up the surface. These are instantaneously vacuumed up along with the concrete dust and through a HEPPA filter. The metal balls are recycled back into the process while the dust is trapped and prevented from going airborne. Some of the metal balls can escape but are retrieved by using a broomlike device fitted with heavy magnets.

It is a slow-moving process that requires significant preparation time before the shotblasting even begins. It’s not something you want to make a mistake at. We recommend to all of our clients that, if possible, they be onsite at the time of layout to clarify any questions the contractor may have and confirm everything is correct. Even the best of designs may not be completely accurate and may have missed something resulting in an adjustment to the design in real time. Once the shotblasting is completed and the metal shot is cleaned up, the epoxy application can begin.

Two Part Epoxy Application for Stripes

Epoxy can be sprayed or rolled. We don’t recommend using a brush unless you are getting hard to reach areas or doing touch-ups. When doing stripes, it is most common to spray the epoxy using a striping machine. Spraying the epoxy allows for maximum coverage and an even amount of product applied in one pass.

Once the two parts of epoxy are mixed, there is a limited amount of time to spray the material before it starts to gel/set due to the reaction set off by mixing them. This is where a lot of contractors have trouble or just don’t want to use epoxy in their machines because of the risk of ruining them resulting in downtime, expensive repairs, and lost revenue. If the epoxy sets up before the spraying is complete, there is a high likelihood the contractor will ruin their striping machine because it can harden like a rock inside the moving parts of the striper. An experienced epoxy striping contractor knows how to mix and manage their time properly to avoid these catastrophic mistakes. This may be why it is difficult to find an experienced epoxy striping company in your area or state and you may opt to have a reputable company travel to your jobsite to perform the work.

Once the epoxy is sprayed, we recommend 48 to 72 hours of cure time prior to you walking on the stripes and 5 to 7 days before operating heavy equipment over them to avoid unnecessary damage. The cure-time can range depending on temperature and humidity. Epoxy stripes can withstand more abuse than tapes and water-based traffic paint, but no striping can withstand forklifts constantly dragging heavy material or scraping with their forks; eventually damage will begin to occur. If possible, train your operators to lift the material off the ground before moving it and to keep the forks off the ground. This will ensure that your stripes will have the longest lifespan possible.

Now that we’ve established that all striping is not the same, we encourage you to reach out to TCI striping for your warehouse striping needs. As knowledgeable experts in the field, we can help you feel confident that your job will be completed with integrity, and the highest quality workmanship, giving you optimal results and the most bang for your buck!

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TCI Striping is a full-service professional contractor specializing in Warehouse Striping and Distribution Center Services based in Southern California. With over 40 years of experience, we have earned a reputation as a trustworthy commercial and light industrial contractor with an extensive range of capabilities, qualified experience, specialized training, specialty equipment, and a workforce that pays careful attention to detail.

We have consistently provided OSHA-compliant floor markings, warehouse striping, barcode sign installation, bulk inventory signage, safety railing systems, and distribution center striping for four decades. At TCI, our work is guaranteed and has been tested over time. We are continuously committed to delivering excellent warehouse services in Riverside, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Moreno Valley, San Bernardino, Hemet, San Jacinto, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Commerce, City of Industry, Perris, Redlands, Eastvale, Chino, Banning, Beaumont, Bakersfield, Sacramento, Tracy, Visalia, Vacaville, Fresno, Apple Valley, Lebec, Arvin, Tejon, Modesto, Stockton, Lathrop, San Jose, Fremont, Union City, and beyond. Please call us for inquiries or request a quote.