What Are The Different Kinds Of Parking Lot Striping Paint

Doug Enright 

Are you in charge of maintaining a parking lot? One of the most important aspects of parking lot maintenance is striping. Properly marked parking lots help prevent accidents and injuries by providing clear instructions for drivers. However, choosing the right paint for striping can be a challenge.

There are several types of paint for traffic marking, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we will explore the different kinds of parking lot striping paint, including reflective, water-based, oil-based, and thermal plastic paint.

Reflective Paint

Reflective paint involves adding glass beads to the paint for a highly reflective property. While there are companies that specialize in creating true reflective paint, the process of adding glass beads to normal paint can achieve a similar effect.

The cost for glass beads can vary, but it can be easily added to your bid for a job. When purchasing glass beads, there are a few things to look out for. One is the quality of the beads, which is determined by the number of 'round' beads compared to 'odd shaped' beads and the similarity of size between the beads. The majority of the beads should be spherically round and have the same diameter. Additionally, glass beads come in different diameters of sizes, so it's important to choose the appropriate size for your job.

It's also important to note that if you're doing a job that adheres to DOT standards, make sure the glass beads are within the DOT guidelines of your area. There are two types of federal specifications, Type I used on streets and parking lots or Type III which is mainly required for airport runway and taxiways.

Water-Based Paint

Water-based paint is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option that can easily be cleaned up with water. This type of paint is the cheapest option available and dries quickly, which is perfect for parking lots that need to be painted in a hurry. Water-based paint is not as durable as other types of paint, but it's a great option if you're on a tight budget.

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 perfect for jobs where you need traffic flowing as soon as possible. Although it's not different in quality than regular water-based paint, it contains chemicals that allow it to dry much faster.

Oil-Based Paint

For those looking for a durable option that can withstand harsh weather conditions, oil-based paint may be the way to go. Oil-based paints are the most popular choice for parking lot striping because they are cost-effective and offer excellent durability. They are highly resistant to wear and tear, making them perfect for high-traffic areas.

One of the key benefits of using oil-based paint is that it's less likely to freeze in colder climates. Water-based paints tend to break down in freezing temperatures. Oil-based paints offer the best durability for the cost, making them the most widely used option for

Thermal Plastic Paint

Thermal plastic paint is a solid compound that becomes liquid when heated, and it offers unique characteristics that bring security to both the environment and personnel in charge of handling it.

Here are three things to know about thermal plastic paint:

  1. Durability: Thermal plastic paint is known for its durability and longevity. It can withstand harsh weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, and extreme heat without fading or cracking. This type of paint is ideal for parking lots and roadways that experience high traffic volume.
  2. Retroreflectivity: One of the key features of thermal plastic paint is its retroreflectivity. The glass beads in the mixture provide a reflective surface that makes it easier for drivers to see the markings at night. This is especially important for parking lots and roadways with low visibility.
  3. Cost: Thermal plastic paint is more expensive than other types of traffic marking paint, such as water-based and oil-based paints. However, the durability and longevity of the paint make it a cost-effective option in the long run. It also requires less maintenance, which can save you money in the future.

Thermal plastic paint is a great option for parking lots and roadways that require durable and long-lasting markings. It offers retroreflectivity, toughness, and bond strength that can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Parking lot with new striped lines

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost difference between the different types of parking lot striping paint?

To understand the cost difference between different types of parking lot striping paint, you should consider the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Reflective paint is great for preventing accidents at night, but it can be more expensive than water-based paint.

Water-based paint is the cheapest option but easily wiped away by weather changes.

Oil-based paint is durable and long-lasting, but it causes environmental damage.

Thermal plastic paint is thick and durable, but it can be more expensive.

By weighing the pros and cons of each type of paint, you can make an informed decision about which type is best suited for your budget and needs.

How long does each type of paint typically last before needing to be repainted?

If you want to know how long each type of parking lot striping paint typically lasts before needing to be repainted, there are a few factors to consider.

Reflective paint, which is great for preventing accidents at night, usually lasts around 2-3 years before needing a touch-up.

Water-based paint, the cheapest option, usually needs to be repainted every year due to its susceptibility to weather changes.

Oil-based paint, which is durable and good for different weather conditions, can last up to 5 years before needing a new coat.

Thermal plastic paint, which is the most expensive but the most durable, can last up to 7 years.

However, it's important to note that the lifespan of each type of paint can vary depending on the traffic volume, weather conditions, and maintenance of the parking lot.

Can the type of paint used affect the overall safety of a parking lot?

To ensure the safety of your parking lot, it's important to consider the type of paint used for striping. Reflective paint can help prevent accidents at night, while thermal plastic paint is more durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions.

By hiring an expert for your paving project, you can receive advice on what paint to use and avoid exceeding your annual budget. So, don't overlook the importance of choosing the right paint for your parking lot striping to prevent accidents and injuries.


So, now you know the different kinds of parking lot striping paint. Remember, safety should always be a top priority when it comes to parking lot striping. By using the right paint and following proper striping techniques, you can help prevent accidents and injuries in your parking area.

If you're not sure which type of paint is best for your situation, don't hesitate to Enright Asphalt, the leading commercial sealcoating and parking lot maintenance company in Denver.

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