While floor tape and signs are easy-to-use alternatives to paint, it can be difficult to know which solution is best in different situations. Visual cues for safety and organization need to provide clear, concise, and easily understood directions so warnings aren’t missed and regulations are followed. While you may think using both floor signs and tape is a foolproof plan, over-marking a warehouse can lead to confusion, and too few cues can create gaps in your messaging. Follow along for our tips on choosing the best tool for your environment and when to use floor marking tape, adhesive-backed floor signs—or both—to achieve your safety goals. 

Consider the Purpose of Floor Tape & Signs

Defining the goal of the floor marking will help inform which solution—floor tape or signs—is the best choice. While both deliver visual impact, one may be more effective than the other depending on the message, shape, size, and design needed. Evaluate the area to decide if tape or signs will be most effective and use these situations for insight:

Visual Cues & Safety Warnings 

OSHA regulations for Accident Prevention Signs and Tags¹ require cues to be affixed as close as safely possible to their respective hazards, and the signal word, major message, and pictographs must be visible from five feet. Caution floor signs may best meet these regulations: The messages on our large, 17- to 22-inch safety signs are easily understood, and our custom sign design tool allows you to use any graphics or wording to support the warning. For larger areas or multiple hazards, consider pairing your sign with floor tape striping to define the affected location and strengthen the message.

Signs & Tape for Wayfinding

When your goal is to help employees find what they need, whether it is an office or a supply closet, the floor markers you choose should direct them quickly and efficiently. While markings for emergency evacuations must follow guidelines from OSHA and other safety organizations, including the ADA² (Americans with Disabilities Act) and NFPA³ (National Fire Protection Association), other visual cues for productivity and general navigation are left to you. So, how do you decide between signs and tape? Here are some ideas for the best floor markers for navigation:

  • Shaped markers (arrows, dots, or footprints) give employees, visitors, and guests an intuitive signal to follow. Custom messaging can be added to provide important information, too.
  • Floor signs with pictures and text label storage locations so supplies are put away correctly, and the empty location is an instant cue that the item is in use elsewhere, saving time searching.
  • Directional arrows and symbols can point to a break room, management office, or restroom to prevent people from wandering into unsafe spaces.
  • Factory floor signs with allowed/prohibited symbols in doorways can prevent accidental entry, and in open layouts, apply tape to the floor for visual barriers and perimeters.
  • Removable floor signs allow for temporary wayfinding when an area is under construction and is a reliable solution for signage for commercial rental spaces.
  • Walkways outlined in tape designate an exact path through the warehouse, and custom printing can inform staff or guests where the path leads and whom it is for (pedestrians only, follow for management, or visitors this way).

Marking Emergency and First Aid Equipment

When the goal of your safety markings is to identify fire and first aid equipment, choosing the best solution can shave valuable time off your emergency response. Evaluate your facility carefully to select the floor signs and tape that will best inform your employees and comply with OSHA and NFPA requirements. 

The NFPA requires a sign to indicate the extinguisher’s location, especially if an obstruction is unavoidable⁴. OSHA’s Fire Protection⁵ standards require that fire-fighting equipment be mounted in accessible locations and identified, and likewise, the First Aid⁶ requirements are to have eyewash equipment and first aid supplies available and clearly marked. The best visuals to meet these regulations are floor signs and tape. Our precut kits mark the area in front of the equipment as off-limits so it isn’t blocked by storage or machinery, and the sign icon for first aid or fire is viewable and recognized from a distance.

Aisle Markers

OSHA regulations for marking permanent aisles and passageways do not have color requirements, but ANSI standards require a minimum width of 2 inches. Floor tape is the best solution for marking these long and large areas. Yellow is a common choice, but placing caution stripes around corners or hard-to-navigate areas creates helpful cues for forklift operators. To designate these aisles as “pedestrian only,” “forklift only,” or “pallet jack only,” place a floor sign at the beginning of each aisle to alert traffic. 

5S Signs or Tape for Organization & Storage

Whether you’re implementing Lean methodologies or simply improving your warehouse organization, 5S floor markings make your efforts much more effective thanks to the efficient application and consistent, easy-to-understand cues. These markers can label equipment and supplies, outline storage, and help build positive work habits. Choosing 5S floor tape or signs will depend on which area you’re improving. Here are examples of how floor marking tape and signage can help strengthen workplace organization and workflow: 

  • Sort: Floor tape can easily establish locations for items that need to be sorted for rehoming or disposal, such as unused equipment, broken tools, or outdated supplies. 
  • Set in Order: Floor tape L- and T-markers and 5S signs can be used together to define the boundaries of the items and label the location to utilize space effectively and reduce wasted time.
  • Shine: Use floor tape to mark areas off-limits to prevent clutter, and outline locations for trash, scrap, and finished goods to reinforce clean-up procedures.
  • Standardize: Select consistent visual management, including factory floor marking colors, striping, and messaging to streamline communication and procedures throughout your workplace.
  • Sustain: Investing in resources, such as durable floor markings, can reinforce behaviors and habits for lasting results and long-term improvements. 

Consider Warehouse or Factory Environment

Evaluating the surface conditions, room size, and wear-and-tear in your warehouse or factory is the first step to selecting floor markings. Before choosing signs or tape, explore which will provide the adhesion and durability you need so your markers are an effective investment. Here are some situations to consider when selecting factory floor signs or tape:

Uneven or Pitted Flooring

The surface conditions are a large factor when determining which floor markers are best. While our Superior Mark tape expertly covers large areas and perimeters, it isn’t ideal for a stop sign, intersection marker, or slippery floor sign. Our signage provides cost-effective markers for these instances. Select vinyl for polished or smooth surfaces. For irregular areas, opt for our rubber or inlaid mesh, which are designed to adhere to pitted concrete or uneven flooring. Knowing which sign materials are best, and what coverage you need can help pinpoint your selection between a variety of visual cues.

Low-Light Areas

Not all floor signs and tape are effective in low-light conditions. When considering your safety markings, factor in lighting changes due to a power failure or outage to make sure you’re choosing what’s best for every condition. In areas with low visibility, reflective and glow-in-the-dark floor tapes are better choices than standard signage. Rather than providing checkpoints along a path like a series of markers would, reflective or photoluminescent tapes can outline an entire walkway to lead pedestrians to safety. Tape can also be easily cut to fit stair treads, railings, ramp edges, or landings to prevent tripping and missteps too. Select hazard striping to communicate caution and choose from a variety of solid colors to match your facility’s safety and organizational marking plan. Because the reflective surface shines when a headlamp or flashlight passes by, the need for caution is apparent, even in low-light and emergency situations.

Areas With Slip, Trip & Fall Risks

Facility safety supplies, safety signage, and specialty tape can improve visual cues and reduce accidents and injuries. Non-skid floor tape is a versatile safety marking that highlights slip, trip, and fall risks, and the gritty texture improves traction on stair treads, landings, dock edges, and catwalks. You can choose non-skid marking tape by grit, style, or color to fit your safety plan. Floor signs can bolster safety in these specialty areas by providing large, clear notices that complement the tape. Here are examples where these visual cues can be used together:

  • Mark cold storage lockers or climate-controlled warehouse areas prone to slick conditions with freezer tape and a slippery floor sign.
  • A dock ramp, warehouse entrance, or building entry subject to outdoor conditions, can be improved with a combination of grit tape and a wet floor sign.
  • Install a watch your step sign and non-skid tape on auto repair floors where oil spills or grease residue are common.
  • Place wet floor signs and grit tape in commercial kitchens near the dishwashing area where steam and water create slip hazards.
  • No running signage and anti-skid tape placed at marina locations can prevent accidental falls due to slick surfaces.

Open Floor Plans With Hazardous Areas

Open floor plans can be difficult to mark with safety signage because traffic may enter from many directions and potentially miss the safety warnings. That’s why repeating message tape is an ideal solution for large, open-ended areas. The tape is easy to install in front of hazards, such as electrical panels or fire equipment, or around entire zones, like a stretch-wrap machine or assembly line. The repeating text communicates to passersby to keep their distance, not block, or stay clear, no matter which direction they approach from. Select from our inventory of premade safety messaging tape or create your own design to communicate risks, PPE requirements, or access restrictions.

Keep these situations in mind as you decide which floor markers are best for your facility. Our Resource Center offers even more tips and information about how to improve safety and efficiency with floor signs and tape.