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One of the most important, if not the most important, aspects of operating a profitable business is knowing what to charge to stay competitive but maintain proper profit margins. Many factors go into properly estimating a project such as: Labor Costs, Material Costs, Equipment Costs, Trucking Costs, and more. In this article we will discuss how to properly calculate how much material will be needed for your striping jobs.

Calculation Overview

The most important number you will need to know for this calculation is 231. Not only is that my bank account balance, that is also the number of cubic inches per gallon. This is vital for sealcoat, crackseal, striping and any other product that uses material purchased by the gallon. (WAIT! Crackseal is purchased by the block… I know. Read this for more info)

Cubic Inches per Gallon = 231

Now all we need to do is figure out how many cubic inches there are in your job. That is where the second important number comes from: 1,728. Yes, this is how many cubic inches are in a square foot, but more importantly it is how many pushups I can do in a row. (JK… I look like Jack Skellington).

Cubic Inches in a Cubic Foot = 1,728


Now that we have that information, there are two ways to calculate how much material is needed:

  1. How many linear feet of lines are you striping
    • This is how the Bitumio software calculates the total material needed. If you are provided plans that contain the linear feet then this is really easy. If not, then there are couple ways to figure this out.
      1. Count the stalls and multiple the stalls by the number of linear feet per stall.
        • A double stall averages 25 linear feet per stall
        • A single stall sharing a line with another stall contains 20 linear feet per stall.
      2. Measure the width of the area where stalls will be placed and divide that length by 9. Most stalls are either 9 or 10 feet wide. Dividing by 9 will give a good estimate of the number of stalls. Once you have this number then multiply that number by either 25 if painting double stalls or 20 if painting single stalls.
        • Example: the width of a parking lot needing single stalls against a curb is 180 linear feet. I would divide that by 9 to get 20 stalls needed. Multiply 20 * 20 to get 400 linear feet of stripes needed.
  2. How many stalls are being striped
    • As outlined above, if you know the number of stalls, you can multiply the number of stalls by the length of lines to get to linear foot.

Here is an easy reference chart to calculate material and linear feet by common stencils and stall types:

Stencil Type Letter Size Overall Size Size in Square Inches Cubic Inches of Paint Area (using 20 Mil Spray Rate) Gallons Needed Linear Feet (Using 4″ Spray Width)
 Visitors 12 x 9″ 18×72                       1,296 15.6 0.1                                27
 No Parking   18×97                       1,746 21.0 0.1                                36
 Fire Lane   18×86                       1,548 18.6 0.1                                32
 Reserved   18×82                       1,476 17.7 0.1                                31
 Handicap Symbol 39″ 48×40                       1,920 23.0 0.1                                40
 Stop 24 x 12″ 30×60                       1,800 21.6 0.1                                38
 Arrow Curved 62″ Long 48×70                       3,360 40.3 0.2                                70
 Arrow Straight   40×70                       2,800 33.6 0.1                                58
 Number Kit – 12 pc. (Individual Number) 12 x 9″ 16×11                          176 2.1 0.01                                  4
 Letter Kit – 29 pc. (Individual Letter) 12 x 9″ 16×11                          176 2.1 0.01                                  4
Double Stall Length 25′ 25′ x 4″                       1,200 14.4 0.1                                25
Single Stall Length 20′ 20′ x 4″                          960 11.5 0.05                                20



Trying to remember that an ADA Stencil requires .1 gallons of paint seems like a trivial thing. I feel ya! However, how many ADA stencils or other stencils do you paint in a year? Multiply that number by .1 and I’m sure you’re using many gallons of paint on things like this, which if left unaccounted for will quickly eat into your margins.

If you charge a flat rate for stencils, which is most common, then this gives you a good input to determine how to price those items. Material cost Labor Costs (See Here) are main factors to consider for flat rate pricing.

Paying attention to the details like the above will help ensure your estimates are always profitable and job costing is as accurate as possible.

Check this out for a handy calculator to get all your information into linear feet and gallons needed.