Warehouse floor markings are critical to divide spaces, outline potential hazards, alert employees to areas where personal protective equipment (PPE) is required, direct the flow of forklift and pedestrian traffic to help avoid collisions, and improve overall workflow efficiency. While many warehouses and industrial operations rely on epoxy floor paint for their floor markings, even the highest-quality paint will eventually wear down and fade away under heavy traffic and debris buildup.
If the painted safety lines on your factory or warehouse’s concrete floor are in need of repair, you’ll want to make a plan to repaint or replace them as quickly as possible to keep your facility running safely and efficiently. Before you decide to repaint floor safety lines, consider these five common mistakes to avoid.
Mistake #1: Repainting Directly Over the Faded Floor Paint
As tempting as it may be to simply slap another coat of paint over any faded areas, this is a big mistake. If you paint over existing chipped, peeling, or faded paint, the new coat will quickly flake away—especially if the safety lines are in a heavy-traffic area.
In order to maximize the life of your new floor paint and avoid having to repaint again in a few months, it is important to properly prepare the surface. Most concrete professionals begin by stripping as much of the old paint away as possible without damaging the concrete surface. Next, they’ll degrease the surface, removing coatings like sealers that would prevent the paint from adhering properly.
If you are only repainting small areas where the paint is faded or peeling, the contractor can clean and prepare those specific areas, later ensuring that the juncture between these spots and the rest of the floor paint blends in a feathered manner (ASTM D6237¹). If your entire floor needs repainting, your contractor will need to painstakingly remove the paint across the entire warehouse, which requires extended workfloor closure.
Once any surface that requires repainting is fully cleaned and prepared—which could take several hours or days depending on the scope of the project—the contractor can begin your repainting project.
Bottom Line: Always remove old or existing paint before putting down new floor paint to make it last longer.
Mistake #2: Failing to Properly Prepare the Surface
Epoxy paint naturally bonds best with rough surfaces, like drywall. Because concrete is so smooth and slick, it requires extensive surface preparation to ensure the paint adheres well and won’t simply peel away after a short time, requiring frequent repainting. To prepare a concrete surface, painters recommend roughening it up, creating “teeth” for the paint to “bite.” Independent standard-setting organizations have issued numerous standards regarding how to roughen concrete in preparation for applying coatings, such as paint (ASTM D4259², ASTM D4260³, ICRI Guideline No. 310.2R⁴, SSPC SP 13/NACE No. 6⁵).
Many people are tempted to skip this step because it takes considerable time and effort. According to Pat Curry, a former senior editor at Builder Magazine, “Concrete painting is trickier than painting most surfaces. While you can paint drywall in a day or two, you’ll need a week or more to finish painting concrete.”
Bottom Line: Prepare the concrete by roughening it up before painting to ensure the paint will adhere properly, and allow adequate time to take this step.
Mistake #3: Painting Without First Doing a Test Patch
We get it, when you’re eager to finish repainting and get back to business, it’s tough to commit the time to painting a test patch. However, without testing, there is no sure way to know whether the surface is properly prepared to enable the new paint to adhere properly—especially if you are painting over any of the old paint.
To paint a test patch, choose a small, inconspicuous area to repaint so you can determine whether the results are satisfactory. If there is going to be an issue, it’s better to test your floor markings and find out before spending the time and money repainting the entire safety line.
Bottom Line: Always paint a test patch to avoid surprises and ensure the best outcome.
Mistake #4: Not Allowing Adequate Dry Time for Floor Paint
Epoxy paint requires a surprisingly long time to dry. While popular paint manufacturers have different guidelines, they all suggest waiting at least several days after painting before you can fully open the space. Specifically, Sherwin-Williams urges waiting 48 to 72 hours, while Valspar Paint recommends allowing painted concrete at least 72 hours to dry. BEHR suggests allowing at least 24 hours for light foot traffic, 72 hours for heavy foot traffic and furniture, and 7 days before subjecting the surface to automotive tires. For the best results, always refer to the paint brand’s dry time guidelines.
Why the long wait times? Put simply, the paint takes a long time to fully dry and adhere to the concrete surface. Prematurely exposing the surface to heavy traffic before it has finished curing will cause paint failure, resulting in cracking and peeling that will require further re-coating.
Bottom Line: Don’t rush it; allow the concrete floor paint at least a few days to dry completely before resuming warehouse or factory business as usual.
Mistake #5: Overlooking Floor Paint Alternatives
While there’s no denying the importance of proper warehouse floor markings for added facility safety, efficiency, and OSHA-compliance, paint isn’t your only option. Many facility managers mistakenly assume that floor tape is a short-term solution that will wear down quickly, needing to be replaced frequently in heavy traffic areas. Though this may have been true in the past, technological advancements allow the production of high-quality floor marking tape that can stand up to heavy traffic, making it a suitable alternative for long-term use.
Superior Mark® floor tape is more durable than floor paint, and it does not require the extensive surface preparation, test-painting, and drying time associated with epoxy paint. Because floor tape is so much faster to apply and easier to reapply, it has become an attractive alternative for busy warehouses that can’t afford to shut down for multiple days to repaint lines.
Bottom Line: Floor tape is a durable alternative to floor paint and requires significantly less time and work to apply and reapply.
Warehouse lines, floor striping, and other markings are imperative for a properly functioning warehouse or industrial facility. Whether you’re striving to meet Lean & 5S standards to improve efficiency or simply satisfying the necessary OSHA safety requirements, you’ll need to ensure that your facility’s floor safety lines are bright, crisp, and easily visible.
While no floor marking solution can withstand heavy traffic without eventually peeling or fading over time, you have options for maintaining your warehouse floor safety lines. When repainting, avoid these top mistakes to ensure the paint adheres properly. If you’re considering floor marking alternatives such as tape, signs, or virtual lines, visit our Resource Center or contact our Floor Marking Specialists to learn about the benefits of floor safety tape for warehouses and industrial facilities.