Mastering Road Paint: Different Types, Techniques, and Longevity

Discover the world of road paint in this informative blog post. Learn about the different types of line striping paint, various application techniques, and its longevity.

Judson Burdon
Posted by Judson Burdon on September 14
  • Learn about the different types of road paint and what's perfect for asphalt parking lots.
  • The longevity of line striping paint depends on its quality and the volume of traffic the pavement receives.
  • Line striping equipment and other tools can be used to apply asphalt paint.

Navigating the bustling streets and busy parking lots of our modern world, one seldom pays heed to the silent guide beneath our wheels: road paint.

An unassuming hero of the asphalt, road paint (or line striping paint to asphalt maintenance contractors) serves as the critical marker dictating order and structure on our roadways and parking lots.

Beyond its vibrant hues, road paint plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. It also facilitates smooth navigation.

Imagine a world where parking lots lacked clear demarcations. The resulting chaos underscores the value of these stripes and symbols.

For line striping contractors and those with a keen interest in road safety, understanding the intricacies of road paint — its various types, application techniques, and how long it lasts — can make a world of difference.

Whether you're a professional in the field or just an intrigued member of the general population, dive in to explore the fascinating world of road paint and appreciate the subtle artistry that shapes our daily journeys.

Table of Contents

how-to-paint-parking-lotPainting parking lot spaces with road paint and line striping equipment

Types of Road Paint

On the canvas of our roads, not all paints are created equal. In this blog post, we'll uncover the factors that determine their efficacy, longevity, and visual clarity. Let's embark on this chromatic journey to identify the distinctions that make each line striping paint type unique.

Choosing the best parking lot paint

Oil-based vs. Water-based vs. Thermoplastic Paint

Oil-Based Paint


Asphalt Kingdom's Oil-Based Traffic Paint

Valued for its durability and vividness, oil-based road paint is resilient against water and wear. This makes it ideal for regions with adverse weather conditions. Its strong adherence to the asphalt ensures longevity, albeit with a slightly longer drying time.

Water-Based Paint

Paint-Bucket-waterbasedAsphalt Kingdom's Water-Based Traffic Paint

A greener alternative, water-based paint is eco-friendly and easy to apply. While it might necessitate frequent touch-ups, it's preferred in urban settings due to its quick-drying nature.

Thermoplastic Paint

Thermoplastic paint isn't just "painted" on. It's heated, melted, and then applied, forming a long-lasting layer. Ideal for high-traffic zones, this paint promises longevity with a sturdy finish.


Reflective vs. Non-Reflective Options

Non-Reflective Paint. Predominantly chosen for areas with ample lighting, non-reflective paint does its job efficiently without any added sheen.

Reflective Paint. This is ideal for roads or parking lots with dimly lit areas.

Embedded with tiny glass beads, it bounces back the light from vehicle headlights, creating luminescent road markers that guide drivers safely through the night.

It's worth noting that the magic of those gleaming lines under the moonlit sky owes its brilliance to the incorporation of glass beads

A blend of art and science, these beads enhance the paint's reflective quality, ensuring roads remain well-defined, come rain or star shine. 

Lifespan of Road Paint

Typical Traffic Paint Lifespan

Road or line striping paint, depending on its type and external factors, usually graces our asphalt surfaces anywhere from six months to a few years. 

While thermoplastic paint with its rugged application may last several years, more conventional paint like oil-based or water-based might require touch-ups every year or so.

Factors Influencing Longevity

Traffic Volume

High-traffic zones, bustling intersections, and heavily used parking lots can see paint deteriorate faster due to the constant friction and weight of vehicles.

Application Technique

Proper preparation of the road surface, use of primers, and expertly applied layers can enhance the paint's lifespan.

Paint Quality

Like any product, premium paints with superior formulations tend to last longer, offering a balance of vibrancy and durability.

Related: ADA Handicap Parking Requirements & Cheatsheet

How Weather Influences Line Striping Paint Longevity

Mother Nature has her say in the narrative of road paint's lifespan. The intense sun can fade the vibrancy. Meanwhile, rainfall, especially in areas prone to pooling water, can speed up wear.

In colder climes, the freeze-thaw cycle challenges the paint's adherence, leading to chipping or peeling. It's a dance of resilience against the elements, where paint strives to retain its integrity amidst ever-changing weather conditions.

Suitability for Different Weather Conditions

The world of road paint isn't just about vibrant strokes on asphalt. It's also a tale of resilience against Mother Nature's fickle moods. 

From the scorching sun of the desert to the biting cold of the tundra, road paint must withstand diverse challenges to remain the reliable guide we all depend on.

Advantages & Challenges in Various Climates


Road markingPainted arrow on asphalt

Tropical & Humid

In these balmy settings, the advantage is that water-based paint dries quickly. However, the challenge lies in the fact that excessive humidity can lead to reduced paint adherence or cause it to become too thin upon application.

Dry and Arid

Here, oil-based paints excel, offering strong resistance against the sun's UV rays, ensuring lesser fading. However, extreme heat can make certain paints soft, leading to quicker wear under traffic.

Cold & Frosty

The robust nature of thermoplastic and oil-based paint makes them suitable for colder regions, as they resist the adverse effects of the freeze-thaw cycle. Yet, cold climates pose the challenge of potential chipping or cracks in the paint over time.

Application on New and Existing Asphalt Surfaces

Applying Line Striping Paint on Fresh Asphalt

Waiting Period. New asphalt releases oils and solvents as it cures. Painting immediately after installing an asphalt road or parking lot is a no-go. A waiting period of at least 30 days ensures the surface is ready.

Surface Check. Before application, a thorough inspection is needed to ensure there are no dust, dirt, or loose rocks that could hinder paint adhesion.

Existing Surface Repainting

Cleaning. Over time, asphalt accumulates dirt, oil, and debris. Sweeping the surface using a poly street broom or power broom is essential to create a clean canvas for repainting.

Repair. Don't waste your line striping paint! Cracks, potholes, or worn-out patches need to be fixed before repainting. This ensures a smooth, even surface for the paint.

Old Paint. If the previous paint is chipped or peeling, removing or sanding it down is crucial. This ensures the new layer adheres properly without any uneven bumps.

Related: How Restriping Parking Lot Benefits Your Property

Adhesion & Compatibility

Compatibility Check

Not all paints play well with certain asphalt compositions. It's vital to ensure the selected paint is compatible with the asphalt type.

Test Patch

Before going all out, a small test patch can provide insights into how the paint adheres, dries, and looks. This step can save time and resources in the long run.

Line Striping Color Choices and Symbolism

Colors speak louder than words, especially on our roads. They’re not just about aesthetics. Each hue carries a distinct message, guiding drivers and pedestrians on the asphalt dance floor. Delve into the colorful world of line striping and uncover the symbolism each stroke carries.

Core Colors and What They Stand For


fall-asphalt-parking-lot-maintenance-autumnWhite crosshatches on a parking lot

A common sight, white lines separate lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. Crosswalks and stop lines at intersections also sport this hue, signaling a space of pedestrian priority.

White paint is also the top choice for commercial property owners who wish to have their parking lots striped.


Yellow lines demarcate two-way traffic, often separating lanes where vehicles move in opposite directions. Whether solid or broken, their message is clear: "Watch out for oncoming vehicles."

It is also used for painting parking lot lines in place of or in conjunction with white paint.


asphalt kingdom red paintRed paint on asphalt

A color demanding attention, red is often reserved for areas where stopping or parking is prohibited, such as fire zone.


Symbolizing accessibility, blue markings, especially in parking lots, designate spaces for individuals with disabilities.

The Role of Color in Conveying Information

Colors on the road act as silent instructors. Red, for example, is definitely a sign that you should not park in the area. Blue, on the other hand, usually means that the space is reserved for the handicapped.

Special Color Uses

Crosswalks. Beyond the regular white zebra stripes, many urban areas are experimenting with vibrant, artistic crosswalks. While they add a splash of art, their primary role remains pedestrian safety.

Parking Lots. Differentiating between general parking, accessible spots, and no-parking zones often employ a mix of white, blue, and red. Some lots also use green for electric vehicle charging stations.

Bicycle Lanes. Gaining traction in many cities, these lanes are often demarcated in bright green, making them easily distinguishable and alerting drivers to the presence of cyclists.

Related: Choosing Parking Lot Line Paint: What You Need to Know

Application Methods and Line Striping Equipment

When it comes to painting the roadways and parking lots, it's not just about the paint itself. The magic lies in the application, a blend of skill, technology, and precision. Delve into the world of line striping techniques and the equipment that ensures every mark is perfectly placed.

Line Striping Techniques


One of the most common methods, spraying allows for a uniform application and ensures even coverage and crisp lines. Whether using airless or conventional sprayers, this method is prized for its speed and efficiency.


Particularly for thermoplastic paints, the extrusion method heats the paint and pushes it through a die, forming thick, well-defined lines that are durable and long-lasting.


This technique uses a flat, straight edge to evenly spread paint over a surface. It's especially useful for creating broader, uniform zones like crosswalk blocks.

Line Striping Essential Equipment

PowrLiner PL3500S Striping Machine

PowrLiner PL3500S Striping Machine


Line Stripers. These machines, whether push-along or ride-on, are the heart of the operation. They are specially designed to apply paint with precision. They can handle paint of different viscosities and ensure straight, consistent lines.


AK_Blog_ChooseTheRightLetterStencilsForPaintingStenciling a handicap parking spot

Stencils. Essential for symbols, letters, and numbers, stencils ensure clarity and standardization in road messages, from speed limits to pedestrian crossings.

Reflective Glass Bead DispenserGlass bead dispenser

Glass Bead Dispensers. Integrated with line stripers or as standalone units, they sprinkle glass beads onto freshly applied paint for reflection, enhancing nighttime visibility.

Related: Reflective Glass Beads for Paint

Technology's Touch

Laser Guidance. Many modern stripers come equipped with laser guides, ensuring the straightest lines even on the most challenging terrains.

GPS Integration. For large projects or complex layouts, GPS can guide the striping process, ensuring accuracy according to pre-planned maps.

Digital Measurement Tools. These provide real-time data on line thickness, length, and paint usage, allowing contractors to monitor quality and efficiency on the go.

Related: 9 Tips for Starting a Line Striping Business

Road Paint Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there environmentally friendly options for road paint?

Absolutely! Eco-friendly road paints are available, made with water-based solvents and fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They offer similar durability without the environmental footprint of traditional paints.

2. Can road paint be easily removed or covered up if needed?

Yes, parking lot paint can be removed using specialized machines that blast the surface with tiny steel shots. Alternatively, it can be covered up with a fresh layer of paint, especially if the new marking aligns closely with the old.

3. How often does road paint need to be reapplied to maintain visibility?

Typically, paint on busy parking lots should be reapplied every 1-2 years. However, this can vary based on traffic volume, weather conditions, and the type of paint used.

4. What challenges or considerations should be kept in mind when applying road paint?

Considerations include the asphalt's temperature and cleanliness, ambient temperature, humidity, and potential rain. It's also crucial to ensure the selected paint is compatible with the road surface.

5. Are there regulations or guidelines for the use of parking lot paint in different regions?

Yes, many regions have specific guidelines about the type, color, and reflective qualities of paint. It's essential to consult local authorities or standards organizations for the specifics.

6. Can road paint be customized for specific symbols, signs, or messages?

Definitely! With stencils and specialized striping equipment, road paint can be applied to custom designs, messages, or symbols to suit specific requirements.

7. What is thermoplastic road paint, and how does it differ from regular paint?

Thermoplastic road paint is a durable paint type that's heated and applied in a molten state. It cools and solidifies upon application, resulting in a thick, wear-resistant marking. Unlike regular paint (oil-based and waterborne traffic paint), it is often used in high-traffic areas.

8. Are there any advanced technologies being used in line striping paint for enhanced durability?

Yes, innovations like epoxy resins are being mixed into paints for greater durability. Additionally, the incorporation of specific polymers and advanced formulations can increase paint lifespan.

9. Can paint be applied on surfaces other than asphalt, such as concrete pavements, football fields, or gravel?

While asphalt is the most common surface, traffic paint can also be applied to concrete and football fields. However, gravel poses challenges due to its loose and uneven nature, making it unsuitable for typical road paint applications.

10. How do road markings and symbols help in traffic flow and organization?

Road markings act as visual cues, guiding drivers and pedestrians. They delineate lanes, indicate directions, signal safe pedestrian zones, and convey vital traffic regulations. This organization keeps traffic orderly and reduces the risk of accidents.


Now that you know everything you need to know about road paint, you can now purchase the best one for your project.

Unable to decide whether to purchase water-based and oil-based asphalt paint? Give our asphalt specialists a call at 1-866-399-5562 for informative and friendly assistance.

Topics: Line Striping

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