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Which parking lot and road line paint should you buy?

First off, we need to mention that some municipalities have started regulating the paint you can use, so if you are starting out in the industry, you might want to check with the local authorities just to make sure you are in compliance. For example, some cities have banned the use of oil / solvent based paint, and others are starting to require what is called "high build" paint. Don't let this scare you though, the industry is still wide open and most cities don't have any regulations other than adhering to the standard federal specifications on color and consistency. Just wanted to throw it out there in case you're new to the industry. If you're looking to build a line striping business, we have a great book that will teach you how.

There are close to a dozen different paints that can be used for road marking, many of them appearing to be "better than the other" but that generally isn't true. Most of the paints we offer are pretty universal in how you use them, but keep in mind there are a handful of paints that you might want to consider for specific applications.

The most common and generally least expensive line striping paint, is our water based regular dry road paint . It is a great all around paint that will work as line striping paint, curb marking and road marking paint and it can be used on both asphalt and concrete.

Federal & State Specifications:
We offer both Federal Spec and Non-Federal spec paints, but which one is right for you? If you're doing work on federally owned property, you must use federal spec paints. If you're doing work on state owned propery, you will have to check with your respective state for specifications. Pretty much everyone else can use whatever paint they choose, as long as it meets federal specification guidelines on color. All of our non-federal spec paints are designed as lower cost alternatives that either meet or exceed most of these requirements, making them excellent paints for parking lot line striping or city and county roads that don't have strict state guidelines.

Types of paint:


Oil / Solvent Based Paints

Solvent based paints, sometimes known as "Oil based paint", are made up of chemicals that are solvent with each other to make the paint. One of the key ingredients to this type of paint is typically a form of oil, sometimes food based such as vegetable oil (canvas oil painting, hobby paints etc.) or petroleum based oils (house paints, line striping paints etc). When the oil combines with the other chemicals, it becomes solvent with those chemicals which in turn makes the paint.

Clean-up of solvent based paints requires special solvent thinning products such as mineral spirits or toluene. Solvent based paint, when in it's wet form will repel water, making it very difficult to clean up solvent based paints with water.

Many professionals that operate in colder climates prefer solvent based paint because it won't freeze. Water based paints tend to break down when the temperatures reach near freezing. This is why it is always recommended to store water based paint in "above freezing" temperatures and best applying results are when the temperature is above 50º F. The use of solvent based paints can also be pin-pointed to the preference of the painter. Some painters and line stripers just like it better over the water based paint.

Regular Solvent Based Paint
Regular solvent based paint, also referred to as "Type I" is your general run of the mill paint that can be used pretty much universally for just about any pavement needing painted. If you want a solvent based paint but aren't sure what to get, this is the best place to start since you can't go wrong with it. You won't really need to buy any other paint unless you are looking to do specialized jobs where a different paint is required. The only times we wouldn't recommend this paint is if you are painting large areas such as an entire driveway or warehouse floor, or you are painting an area that will have very aggressive traffic such as a runway or race track. It WILL work just fine however, for line marking a warehouse floor or marking the taxi lines for an airport but we invite you to look into the FAST DRY Water based paint for these situations because you can re-open the pavement to traffic much sooner. View Pricing Of Regular Solvent Based Paint

High Performance Hybrid Solvent Based Paint
The high performance "hybrid" paints we offer are very similar to the regular paint except that it contains additional solvents to make it a superior line striping road marking paint when compared to the regular paint. This paint should be used in very high traffic areas where maximum quality and durability is required. The NASCAR race track at Daytona specifically uses this paint because of its high durability. That makes this high performance road paint perfect for any race track needing a high quality paint that won't chip or "rub off" from the aggressive traffic. We also recommend this paint for small to medium airports with low to medium amounts amount of air traffic. Combine it with glass beads to make very durable reflective runway paint where federal specs aren't necessary. For larger airports with high traffic, we recommend looking into our Stampcrete line of concrete paint for maximum quality and durability. View Pricing of High Performance Hybrid Paint

Alkyd Paint
The word alkyd refers to the synthetic resin used as a binder in the paint. The use of alkyd is typically less hazard to the environment which these days, is gaining popularity. Alkyd is used in most of our solvent based paints and doesn't really make it better or worse, one way or the other. Some paints contain more alkyd than others which makes the paint more durable overall, but generally isn't marketed or widely pushed as such. The paints we offer contain a calculated amount of alkyd which makes the paints very universal to use on most pavements.

Solvent Based Chlorinated Rubber Paint
Solvent based "chlorinated rubber paint", is specially formulated with Chlorinated Rubber which typically gives the paint a "rubbery" texture after it dries. This type of paint is generally used for zone marking areas like curbs, protection posts or sometimes car stops. It is a longer lasting paint that is resistant to chipping and while it is perfectly fine to use for line striping or road markings, we don't recommend it for those applications because of the cost. While we don't sell a paint made with chlorinated rubber, we do sell a paint that is designed around many of the same ingredients but without all of the combustive properties of chlorinated rubber. True chlorinated rubber paints are very hazardous and many manufacturers and specifications have moved away from it as the main ingredient in favor of much safer and even better materials. View Pricing Of Our Alternative Chlorinated Rubber Paint


Water Based Paint

Regular Dry Water Based Paint
Water based paints are not as harmful to the environment as solvent based paints and because they are designed with water being one of the base ingredients, water based paint cleans up easy with... water! This helps lower your costs because water is much cheaper than solvent thinning agents and much more available. View Pricing of Water Based Paint

Water Based Fast Dry
Fast dry water based paint is specially formulated to be dry to the touch in approximately 5 minutes and traffic ready in approximately 15. This type of paint is no different in quality to it's "regular dry" paint, the only difference is the addition of chemicals that allow it to dry much faster. This type of paint is perfect for jobs where the customer needs to have traffic flowing as soon as possible and they understand the importance of "time is money". View Pricing of Fast Dry Water Based Paint

There is one thing to note about the Fast Dry paints though... There are some paint applicators on the market that will have a hard time using the Fast Dry paints. For example, our Rollmaster 1000 and Rollmaster 5000 are roller based stripers and the paint dries too quickly on the roller and inside the application tubes, clogging up the striper and wasting your time. Pretty much any of the high pressure gasoline powered sprayers will handle the fast dry paint just fine. With 3000 PSI pumping though the tubes it's enough to unclog just about any paint gunk!


Thermoplastic Paint

Thermoplastic paint can be applied either cold or hot and each method for application is different. As you can denote from the name, this type of paint is not your normal paint. It actually contains plastic and once it drys, can withstand a lot more abuse than your normal paints. So, the upside to thermoplastic paint is it's durability. The only major downside, is the cost.

Cold Applied
Cold applied thermoplastic paint (AKA "Plastec") is treated and sprayed using the exact same equipment as your solvent based or water based paint such as a typical line striper you already own or might be looking to purchase. There are no special attachments, processes or equipment needed to apply it cold. The cold applied thermoplastic paint we offer, has plastic polymers dissolved into the paint, making it a superior paint when compared to the regular paint counterparts.

Cleanup of the solvent based cold applied thermoplastic paint is the same as any solvent based paint: Mineral spirits, thinner or the recommended toluene.
Cleanup of the water based cold applied thermoplastic paint is the same as any water based paint: Lots of water!

Hot Applied
Hot applied thermoplastic paint has two major methods of application: Torch and Melter and each method requires a different "type" of material. (The compound of the material is the same but they go through a different manufacturing process.) The biggest advantage of hot applied thermoplastic paint is the durability of the finished product which can last up to several years. The disadvantage is the expensive equipment required to perform the job and expensive cost of material.

Hot applied "torch" method: The torch method requires a special propane "torch" to heat the material and ensure proper bonding to the applied surface. The material is generally purchased to the specific size needed, placed into position, then heated with the torch until it melts into the pavement. The equipment for this method, while expensive, isn't quite as expensive as the melter method. The downside to this method though is that it is usually limited to what you can paint. For example, crosswalk car stops, handicap symbols etc.

Hot applied "melter" method: Hot applied thermoplastic paint requires a specialized piece of equipment that "melts" the material in a big hopper. Typically there are three types of material that you can purchase, one comes in a powder form, one comes in a pellet form and the other comes in a solid block form. Thermoplastic melters are generally very expensive to purchase.


Reflective Paint

If you are specifically looking for "reflective paint", there are a few companies like 3M who create a true reflective paint. These paints are typically very expensive when compared to the normal method of creating reflective paint. Generally though, the term itself actually stems from the process of adding glass beads to the paint right after it is sprayed, giving it a highly reflective property at night time. This process is usually used for striping road lines or informational road markings but you can use it in general line striping if the job calls for it or you like to go above and beyond with your work. The cost for glass beads can range from $50 - $130 for a bag (depending on size and quality) which can easily be added to your bid, or just as easily taken off if you are shooting for the lowest bid. There are several methods for applying glass beads such as sprinkling the beads over wet paint by hand, using a quality hand-held glass bead dispenser or if you have a line marking machine, many of the leading brands of line stripers offer a glass bead dispenser that will spread the beads right behind the spray tip, killing two birds with one stone and ensuring maximum quality. View Pricing of Reflective Glass Beads

There are several things to look out for when purchasing glass beads:
Quality: The quality of the glass beads is determined by the number of "round" beads compared to "odd shaped" beads and the similarity of size between the beads. If the majority of the beads are spherically round and have the same diameter, then the quality is considered to be high. You might find a few odd shaped ones or bigger or smaller in the same bag, but if the majority of them all look about the same, then you are good.

Size: Glass beads come in different diameter of sizes. Some people like smaller diameter beads for certain applications, some like the larger ones. At this time, we don't offer different sizes of glass beads however we do offer glass beads that are DOT approved to be used for line striping applications such as road markings.

DOT Approved: If you are doing a job that adheres to DOT standards, make sure the glass beads are within the DOT guidelines of your area. The suppliers with a higher quality glass bead, will usually be more than happy to offer a MSDS sheet to show the product is in compliance with DOT standards.

Federal Specs: The federal government has two types of specifications, Type I used on streets and parking lots or Type III which is mainly required for airport runway and taxiways. Type I is fine for most folks but if you're required to apply glass beads for federal airports, you'll have to go with the more expensive Type III.