Before starting any pavement, parking lot or road marking project be sure to always check with the local authorities for that city to be sure the paint you are choosing is compliant with their standards.  There are many different types of paints that can be used for parking lot and road marking.  Pavement marking paint may be oil based, solvent based, water based, thermoplastic or reflective. This article is meant only as a guide to help you in choosing which paint may best fit your specific project.


Acrylic Pavement Paint

Acrylic paints can typically washed with water so no special solvent is needed (cheaper clean-up). Acrylic emulsion paints are fast drying and form a water-resistant film after they dry. The acrylic emulsion is  an added process for the paint which improves abrasion resistance as well as added resistance to fungi and algae.  The emulsion process also helps to make it easier to clean.

Some acrylic pavement paints have an additional designation of ‘fast dry’. Fast dry are made to be dry to the touch in about 5 minutes and ready for traffic in about 15 minutes. With the added benefit of faster drying there is one drawback in that some equipment will not work well with ‘fast dry’ because the paint dries too quickly. So be sure check the paint requirements for the paint application device you are using.

Water based paints like acrylic paint are best applied in temperatures above 50 degrees.

Thermoplastic Paint

Thermoplastic paints have two different application methods: ‘hot’ and ‘cold’.  Thermoplastic paint actually contains plastic. The plastic in the paint makes it a very durable paint for intense traffic areas.  Thermoplastic paint is also more expensive than regular water based paints though. Typically thermoplastic paint requires a solvent for clean-up which is an added cost to consider.

Cold applied liquid thermoplastic marking paint can be applied with standard airless spray equipment. Hot applied thermoplastic requires either “Torch” or “Melter” application which requires special equipment and added cost.  The advantage to hot applied is that it that the finished coat can stand up to years of traffic.

Reflective Paint

Reflective paints generally refers to the addition of glass beads to the paint after it is sprayed.  This provides higher reflectivity at night. This process is usually used for striping road lines. The glass beads can be applied by hand by sprinkling the beads over the over wet paint by hand, or you can use a glass bead dispenser like the one below:

Glass Bead Dispenser

*Traffic Safety Warehouse does not sell glass beads.