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Pre-made and custom parking lot and roadway stencils can be used to provide visual cues to visitors, employees, drivers, and pedestrians. While pavement marking tape may provide adequate visual instructions in parking areas, it isn’t appropriate for every situation. When applying pavement markings using stencils, there are a few things to keep in mind regarding material choice, use, cleaning, and storage. Explore these guidelines for applying parking lot markings with stencils and paint.

Uses for Pavement Stencils

Letters, numbers, arrows, symbols, and navigation cues keep your visitors safe—and clear instructions are as necessary for parking lots and paved areas as they are inside the building. When floor marking tape or adhesive-backed pavement signs aren’t ideal, stencils and aerosol paint may be suitable.

Navigational cues are important for safety in parking areas, garages, and in traveled lanes. Mark turns, crosswalk lines, lane designations, no parking zones, and public transportation stops using paint and stencils.

Stencils are perfect for school use to mark school zones, bus lanes, drop-off and pick-up locations, or location-specific safety messages. Designate teacher parking, number student parking spaces, or indicate bus-only zones to ensure busses aren’t blocked by visitors’ cars. When marking basketball courts or football fields, or creating decorations in playground areas—such as maps, children’s games, or school mascot logos—stencils and paint provide an easy solution. Simply use aerosol paint and a marking gun to apply the graphics or text, allow the area to dry, then re-open to students or visitors.

Some of the most common uses for pavement stencils include:

  • Parking lot striping
  • Safety notices
  • Drive-through lanes
  • Branded and custom messaging
  • School parking areas
  • Playground games
  • Basketball courts
  • Sports fields
  • Warehouse safety
  • Loading docks
  • Shipping operations

Note: When marking short-term visual cues, such as in a work zone or for a limited traffic pattern change, temporary pavement marking tape is easier to remove. Choose your pavement marking solution based on need, budget, and preferred removal methods—paint may require sand-blasting, water-blasting, or grinding to remove.

Custom Stencils to Meet Your Needs

Need something that you can’t find in our current stock? We can design stencils with custom graphics or text to ensure you’re providing just the right messaging to your clients, customers, and staff. We can produce custom stencils in over 500 fonts and in your choice of languages. Or, create custom stencils to modify traffic cones, for shipping use, or to add a bit of school spirit to team helmets.

Best Parking Lot Stencil Materials

The lowest-cost parking lot stencils are cardboard or oil board material, but durable Low-Density Polyethylene Plastic (LDPE) and brass last for multiple uses, are easily stored, and are less likely to rip or sustain damage during use than cardboard stencils. LDPE stencils are often preferred as they’re flexible, easy to work with, and will contour to the intended area for a clean application.

Our LDPE stencils come in durable 1/16-inch (about as thick as a quarter) and ⅛-inch (about as thick as a nickel and penny stacked) thick options, both suitable for multiple uses. While the 1/16-inch option costs less than the ⅛-inch variety, the thicker stencil is likely to last through additional uses compared to the thinner variety. Because of this, the higher upfront cost balances out when you don’t need to replace your stencils. 

You may choose the more economical, thinner LDPE stencil if you only intend to use it a handful of times, but for repeated use, the thicker variety is likely going to be easier on the budget in the long run.

For stencils you intend to use many times, brass will last the longest. This durable stencil material allows you to paint many times at once or to store it for touch-ups and future paint jobs.

Tips for Pavement Stencil Use and Care

Our stencils are designed for easy use, cleaning, and storage. Follow these steps to keep your pavement stencils in great shape for multiple uses.

How to Apply Paint with Parking Lot Stencils

  1. Place the stencil in the desired location. If using interlocking letter, number, or word stencils, connect them appropriately before placing the stencil on the ground.
  2. Measure and mark to ensure the stencil is placed correctly—check that it is centered and straight within the intended application area.
  3. After checking for placement, use aerosol paint with a paint gun to apply the paint quickly and easily. Alternatively, you may use a reusable roller or bristle brush to apply paint.

Application Tip: For stencils comprised of letters and numbers, use a Stencil Lock to hold the stencils in place for an even paint job.

How to Clean and Store Pavement Stencils

The non-porous LDPE stencil material doesn’t require soaking or paint thinner to clean away leftover paint after use. After the paint overspray has dried, simply flex the material, then peel the paint away from the stencil.

Always clean your stencils before putting them into storage. This ensures they’re paint-free and ready for use the next time you need them. Store LDPE stencils out of direct sunlight, flat, and face-down.

For applying pavement markings, such as in retail, industrial, or school locations, LDPE stencils may be the best solution. Following these tips for proper use, cleaning, and storage can extend the lifespan of pavement stencils. For more pavement marking information, explore our Resource Center.