Sports fans notice everything about the games they love. They notice the players shouting almost unintelligible “fight songs” to get pumped. They notice the game ball, snug under the referee’s arm as he directs players where to go after a whistle. They even notice the field lines, the unsung heroes of the sports world.
Painting perfect field lines may be an art, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. Below are several tips to help you paint crisp, beautiful field lines to last all season long.
Check the weather
Ideal conditions for field painting include low wind and warm weather, but almost any kind of weather will allow you to paint a job well done. The exception to that rule is freezing temperatures.
Paint acts differently in freezing temperatures. Cans of paint won’t disperse correctly and buckets of paint will not mix to a proper consistency. Snow gloves, scarves and bulky winter jackets add to the painting difficulty level. If it’s freezing outside, wait for warmer weather to roll in before you start painting.
Determine your paint type
Aerosol cans and five gallon buckets are two common types of sports field paints used to stripe fields.
Aerosol cans: Aerosol paint is available in a variety of colors and is ideal for small areas. A four-wheel stripe machine paints a great field stripe and allows you to simply plug the can into the machine, squeeze the trigger and go.
Make sure all of the cans are shaken when you go to spray. Cans that have been shaken produce a better consistency of paint. Make sure you have enough paint on hand to finish the job because aerosol paint will dry quickly once sprayed.
Five gallon buckets: Bulk paint produces a robust looking field line that will impress game watchers. It is available in both concentrate and ready-to-use (RTU) options. Concentrate allows you to choose the dilution rate that works best for your field, while RTU has the benefit of being ready to use right away.
Regardless of which type of bulk paint you select, you will want to prepare/mix the correct amount of paint you are going to use ahead of time. This will help you to be as efficient as possible.
“The paint needs to be mixed evenly in order to pull out of the machine with the right consistency,” said Ewing Sports Fields Specialist Jeremy Bohonko. For proper mixing, use a paddle or jiffy mixer. These tools will help you achieve an even consistency in your paint.
To apply the paint, you will need to use an airless paint machine. The Field Laser S100 is a great machine for the job.
Additional prep work
Some of the preparation, like mowing, can start months in advance, while other prep work happens the day of.
“During the growing season you will want to make sure that you mow your grass to the height you want for a finished product in order to stripe it correctly,” Bohonko said. Consider adding a soil enhancer like Holganix to build a strong and healthy turf field during this stage.
On paint day, always water the grass before you paint. A field that’s given a healthy drink will be less likely to absorb paint during the striping process. Wait for the grass to dry before applying paint.
Next, place string line on the field where your lines need to go.
“Placing string line on the field before you start painting will give your field stripes a clean, crisp edge,” Bohonko said.
Think of the string line as your map for painting. It provides an easy to follow guide that will ensure your lines are crisp and straight.
Once you’ve mowed, watered and placed your string line, it’s go time! For additional suggestions on getting ready to paint your sports field, check out this video!
Bonus tip: After you finish painting, use caution when removing the string line. Any paint remaining on the string will be wet and will stain the grass if you drag it across the field. Be sure to carefully reel the string in without touching the un-painted parts of the field.