Road Markings: An Introduction to Types and Materials

Most schoolchildren are taught from a young age the meanings of various road and traffic signs, and how traffic lights work. However, it’s typically not until one reaches driving-age that we start to learn about pavement markings and what they mean for motorists. Some people can be behind the wheel for years before grasping an understanding of how these markings evolve and are reapplied over time! 

Though road signs and driving practices do vary slightly from country to country, there has been an effort made to unify pavement markings internationally. In the United States, there are dozens of types of common markings used on roadways and in parking lots and other paved areas. Some of the most common markings include parking spot delineations, lane markers, turning lanes, and center dividers. However, there are also many markings that come into play when a roadway is under construction or there is a temporary lane shift. Paying attention to signage, road markings, and the flow of traffic is essential to keep automobiles moving along swiftly and safely, but how do these roadway markings get applied and stay visible over time? Here’s an introduction to some common road marking types, materials, and services we offer in Washington state

Parking Lot Striping 

Fresh, visible parking lot striping not only helps your business’s parking lot look its best, but helps standardize the flow of traffic around the lot. These parking lot markings help drivers know where to park, and equally vital, where not to park. Depending on the surface of your pavement and the amount of traffic in your lot, many outdoor parking lots need to be repainted every 12-24 months. Using a more durable material can sometimes reduce the need for restriping as frequently. 

Permanent Road Pavement Markings 

National, state, and city-administered roadway maintenance and improvements rely on effective pavement marking services to keep things moving along and keep drivers and pedestrians safe. Every roadway from a neighborhood intersection to a national highway can benefit from clear markings that relay to drivers where to drive, where to stop, and where passing is and is not allowed. Construction and roadway improvements can also sometimes change the flow of traffic. In these cases, it may be necessary to remove existing markings, which can be done in several ways including grinding, hydro blasting, and shot blasting. 

Another important type of road marking is temporary pavement marking, frequently used in work zones. A temporary pavement marking plan is just as important as permanent markings, if not more so. In construction zones, it’s incredibly important that motorists are aware of hazardous blockages, lane shifts, or if there are people at work on the roadway. Therefore, temporary pavement markings are often given the same treatment as permanent markings, including the use of traffic paint and reflective markers. If the markings are only to be used for a short amount of time, however, paint becomes cost-prohibitive, and planners will typically opt for temporary tape or plastic barriers as a more economical, short-term solution. 

Business owners and construction planners should keep in mind that every job is unique. The best approach for pavement striping for your parking lot or roadway project will be determined by a variety of factors including the time of year, the amount of traffic, the condition of the pavement surface, and your budget. At Stripe Rite, we have the expertise to answer any questions or concerns regarding your pavement marking needs. Throughout Washington State, our offices in Bremerton, Sumner, Spokane, Kennewick, and Yakima have representatives ready to advise on the best approach and materials for your pavement marking project.