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Free UPS Ground shipping on all orders $50+ to Contiguous US - (non-aluminum)
Free UPS Ground shipping on all orders $50+ to Contiguous US - (non-aluminum)

How to: Select the right striping paint

How to Select the Right Striping Paint for your Parking Lot

When choosing your parking lot and road stencils, it’s also important to think about what kind of pavement marking paint you will be using for your project. Outline Industries does not carry parking lot and road paint, but we find that guides like this are helpful to our customers, especially small businesses and those working independent of a contractor.

The basic kinds of pavement marking paint are water based, oil based, thermoplastic, and retroreflective.  Each of these types has different variations as well. Here is a crash course:

Water based:

Water based paints are often useful for those not willing to buy solvents. If you spill paint, you can wash it away with water before it dries. This obviously means that the pavement must be completely dry before applying the paint and while the paint is drying. Water based pavement marking paint also comes in a fast-drying variety, which is ready for traffic in about 15 minutes. This is the best choice for someone who needs the pavement closed for as little time as possible.

Oil based:

Oil based paints require solvents to clean up, should a spill occur, so they can be more troublesome than water based. However, while water based paint can be damaged by cold temperatures, oil based paints survive those shifts easily. Oil based paints come in different varieties, including those with chlorinated rubber (which provides a vaguely rubbery texture) and alkyd (which is seen as more environmentally friendly).


Thermoplastic paint contains plastic, which leads to a much greater level of durability over time. This durability, however, comes at a cost. The main types of thermoplastic paints are hot applied and cold applied. Hot applied paint uses heat to bond the paint to the pavement. This comes either in the form of a large torch or a special piece of melting equipment. Cold applied plastic is known as MMA (Methyl-Methacrylate) and requires a special paint pump that has 2 pumps and is very costly.   


While pre-made retroreflective pavement markings are available, it is also possible to create your own reflective paint by spreading glass beads onto the fresh paint before it has finished drying. you can do this by hand or with a special dispenser. The DOT typically has guidelines about the use of glass beads in road paint, so make sure you check your area’s regulations before purchasing or using glass beads to create a reflective paint surface.


If you have any questions about pavement marking paint or parking lot and road stencils, please contact Outline Industries and we’ll help you find what you’re looking for.