Road markings are very important in establishing traffic directions and promoting road safety. Without these markings, roads will become merely paved highways that can get vehicles lost in disorganized and dangerous traffic. In other words, road markings and lines are like the national highway’s handwritten law.
Road marks are applied on the road pavement using mechanical and non-mechanical materials. Mechanical materials are usually those that are “accessories” for road safety enhancement. Non-mechanical materials, however, are usually the essential marking materials used for highways, particularly road paint.
Road paint is the most affordable and widely used road marker nationwide. It is easy to apply and does not produce physical interference to vehicles while driving.
Road painting is sometimes added with retro-reflective glass beads and is applied to mark travel lanes and also parking spaces. Travel lanes make use of road paint to indicate traffic direction, stop lines, pedestrian walk lanes, center lines, edge lines, and hazard warning lines. Parking lots use paint to designate parking spaces, loading zones, disabled parking, and time-restricted parking.
There are three main components of paint—pigments, resins, and solvents. Pigments give the paint its color; it is usually in the form of finely grounded materials that adds color and blocks out the surface the paint is applied on.
Resins are also called binders, which act as glue or liquid adhesives of the paint that bind or fix the pigment and the added glass beads on the road surface.
The types of resin used vary depending on the type of paint. Water-based paints use polyvinyl acetate latex, acrylic resin, or methyl methacrylate. Solvent-based paints use soya or linseed oils and alkyd resins.
Solvents are the liquid chemicals that maintain the paint’s capacity to be applied on a surface. Water-based paints use water as their solvent and solvent-based paints use synthetic chemicals like naphtha, methanol, acetone, and toluene.
Solvent-paints, however, have some restrictions because of their potentially harmful effects to the environment.
Road paint is applied using a “Striper,” which is a vehicle or special truck that carries drums that contain hundreds of gallons of road paint. Stripers have special mechanisms for automatic or manual paint application as they run across the road pavement.
Usually, the glass bead additives are applied separately using a gun spray right after the paint is applied. Mixing the glass beads in the paint is not a recommended method. Stripers are used for application of road lines only; painted road symbols would usually have to be applied manually using stencils.
Another type of paint or coating that can be used for road markings is the thermoplastic road marking paint. This is a kind of powder paint that is applied using a hot melt kettle.
The paint needs to be heated to 200 degrees Celsius to melt it and apply by spraying it on the road surface. The paint is a thick coating that is long-lasting and very resistant to wear and tear damages from the constant traffic of vehicles.
Retro-reflective glass beads can also be added to the coating before it completely dries. The addition of the glass beads can also help add roughness to the coating, thus giving the coat some anti-skid attribute.
Nonetheless, thermoplastic road paint generally lacks the roughness required to prevent it from getting slippery during wet seasons, which is why some countries prohibit the use of it on their roads because it can cause accidental slips during rainy and snowy weather.
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