Road markings play a vital role in ensuring road safety. They are the visual cues applied to the road surface that convey important information to drivers and pedestrians. These control the traffic flow by aiding the drivers and pedestrians in moving through roads and intersections. By helping maintain traffic discipline, road markings hold significance in reducing accidents. They also keep the traffic congestion at a limit. Among all the factors that contribute to effective road marking, one of the most crucial ones is the type of paint used. 

Here are some of the common types of road marking paints used:

  1. Water-Based Paint
  2. Thermoplastic Paint
  3. Cold Plastic Paint
  4. Epoxy-Based Paint
  5. Solvent-Based Paint
  6. Latex Paint

1. Water-Based Paint

Water-based road paint, as the name implies, uses water as its solvent, making it an environment-friendly option as compared to traditional solvent-based paints. It is one of the most commonly used paints due to its adaptable nature. With a low volatile organic compound (VOC) content it has less emissions to the atmosphere, adding to its ecofriendliness. 

Due to the high reflectivity, anti-slip properties, and quick drying time, water-based paint is a popular choice for center lines and lane dividers. It also exhibits excellent adhesion to asphalt and concrete surfaces, making application easier. 

However, they have a shorter lifespan (around 3-5 years) compared to other options and perform best in hot, dry climates. Humidity can hinder drying and reduce longevity.

2. Thermoplastic Paint

Thermoplastic paint is a popular choice for high-traffic areas due to its exceptional durability (lasting 7-10 years) and superior reflective qualities.  It is composed of a mixture of glass beads, resins, pigments, and other additives, in powder form heated to a molten state. This molten material is applied using a specialized striper machine. Once cool, it solidifies, creating thick markings with excellent skid resistance. 

Thermoplastic paints offer a good balance between cost and longevity.  Due to their impressive hard-wearing qualities, they are highly favored in regions like the Philippines prone to typhoons and other harsh weather conditions. 

Although thermoplastic paints provide fast drying times and cost-effectiveness, they require specific machinery for melting and application, which in turn increases the initial expenses.

3. Cold Plastic Paint 

Cold plastic paint also called Methyl-Methacrylate(MMA) is the most expensive road marking paint available in markets. It is similar to thermoplastic but is applied cold and exceeds the performance of the former. 

Cold plastic paint has two components – the paint and the catalyst. The latter is added to the paint to form a hardened plastic film which is then applied using a roller or hand mould. Since the lifetime of cold plastic paints is just 10-15 mins, the paint must be applied very quickly after mixing. This implies that the surface on which the paint is to be applied should be prepared beforehand. 

These paints are also durable for up to 8-10 years since they offer excellent resistance to wear, tear, and UV rays. Normally these paints are used in highly congested areas like roundabouts and bus lanes.

Cold plastic paints smell like ammonia and can be a bit difficult to deal with. It is also on the expensive side when compared to other options.

4. Epoxy-Based Paint

Epoxy paints come in single packs as well as two packs. Single-pack epoxies are premixed paints that can be applied straight out of the tub. But on the other hand, two-pack epoxies consist of an epoxy base and a catalyst. This is mixed under heat to form a mirror-like film that is either sprayed or applied using brushes and rollers. This makes it more durable than single-pack epoxies. 

Both options provide good abrasion and chemical resistance, making them suitable for various surfaces like workshops, industrial floors, and even garbage areas. Car park paints also belong in the category of epoxy paints.  While offering good durability, they are on the expensive side and require comparatively long drying times. 

5. Solvent-Based Paints 

Solvent-based paints offer a weather-resistant solution for road markings. They consist of organic compounds as solvents, ensuring a harder finish compared to water-based options. They also come as a single pack where it can be applied straight out of the tub. 

Modern solvent-based paints often have lower VOC content, making them more environmentally friendly. The durability of these paints is up to 3-5 years depending on the traffic conditions. These paints are a good choice for humid climates and are easier to use than their water-based counterparts, as they don’t freeze. 

The downside is that it takes longer to dry than MMA and thermoplastic paints and poses hazards greater than water-based paints, because of the involvement of organic solvents.

6. Latex Paint

Latex paint, also called water-based latex paint or acrylic latex paint is used extensively in temporary pavement marking projects.  It’s known for its exceptional drying speed, taking only 1-2 minutes when heat is applied.  

Latex paint offers good adhesion to various surfaces and is also easy to apply and remove. The reflective properties, if needed, can be increased by adding glass beads to it. Though not as durable as other paints, latex paints offer a budget-friendly temporary solution for road markings, construction zones, events, etc. It will utmost last for a year or two.

Investing in high-quality road marking paint is important in ensuring proper traffic management.  Several factors should be considered when making this choice. 

The lifespan and wear resistance of the paint should be analyzed under different traffic and weather conditions to test for its durability. The chosen paint should offer high reflectivity and visibility during night Good adhesive properties are also a need. It is always better to evaluate the paint’s VOC content and eco-friendliness before using it. Saving ourselves from accidents should not come at the cost of harming the environment. Last but not least, each category of paint should comply with the local and national regulatory requirements. 

The road authorities should also be cautious about using paints that maintain quality. Though it might seem a very small thing, road marking paints should be purchased from paint manufacturers who do not compromise on any of the deciding factors. Consulting experienced people in this area before applying the road marking paints also would be of great help.