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A-Ha Moment Explains Why Stripes Fail

When Steven Smith was President of Pave-Mark, during the 1980s, he experienced an “a-ha!” moment, on a DOT test-deck, when installing preformed markings that led to SMITH Manufacturing, a surface-prep equipment builder.

“The markings were not bonding and the product kept getting a failing grade. We had to quickly find the source, since the materials and installation process met specifications”, said Smith. The problem was traced to what Steven says was “his old-school, deep-seated habits of doing what he previously did as a striper – trying to complete the job as quickly as possible, trying only to apply just the least amount of material required on a clean but smooth surface.”


“It was this mindset, and lack of clear surface-preparation guidelines, to assure the surface was not just clean, but sound and profiled, that created the test deck failures,” Smith says. So, through trial and error on the very same test decks, Steven took a little more time getting the surface prepared right, applied a little more material and never experienced another test deck failure for HotTape and other markings he applied.

“You can engineer the best striping materials and equipment, but the stripe will only last as long as the surface it is applied to”, says Smith.   “It doesn’t matter if the surface is asphalt or concrete, if there is prior cure, old stripes, grease, rubber, dirt, spalled or failing surfaces, the stripe will fail. To get the surface in the right condition requires a lot more than just a broom or blower, it’s removing the top contaminated surface and creating a profile just right for the new material without compromising or cracking the underlying substrate. ” (see surface-prep specs here)

The moment of discovery by Steven in the 80’s, was the foundation of SMITH Manufacturing. “Most of our striper clients use our equipment simply to remove old stripes, but they are missing the opportunity, to use our equipment as a surface conditioner, so the stripes they install last”, says Smith. “Agencies that don’t specify surface-prep separately on striping contracts because of upfront savings are simply trading pennies for dollars down the road when the stripe prematurely fails.”

Read the full article, “Why You Should Charge For Surface Preparation”, click here

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