Looking for Line Painting that Can Take a Pounding

Line Paint Testing


Do line-marking paints exist that will survive our challenging climates?

For the next year, we’re testing line-marking paints, to determine which best weather the tough conditions on BC’s highways.

How long will each paint take the scouring of winter abrasives (aka crushed stone and gravel)? Will it stand up under the scraping of snow plow blades, what effect will heavy rain, snow or slush have, and how long will it be before the weight and friction of vehicles dull its shine?

We’ll be observing recently painted test lines and collecting data, to gain a better understanding of how the paints perform over their typical life cycle. The competition is on between 18 types of paint near Maple Ridge on Highway 7, Kamloops north of Halston Road on Highway 5, and Prince George on Highway 97.

The lines were drawn last month – four-inch wide horizontal strips of white and yellow paint, across one lane of each road.  Signs posted there, indicate that testing is underway.

Line Painting Testing SignPaints have complex chemical formulations. Getting a better understanding of how the paints being tested work is important because we all love nice bright line markings. Highly visible lines make it easy for drivers to see where their vehicle needs to be, and good lane and road edge markings guide traffic and make our roads safer for everyone. Every year, our contractors repaint more than 30,000 line kilometres throughout the province, so the testing could potentially have a widespread effect across BC.

Part of the challenge is finding paint that has the best durability and most effectively holds onto the reflective glass beads it contains, while also meeting federal environmental standards for volatile organic compounds. Some of you might have noticed that pavement lines have become less visible, since oil-based paints were discontinued in 2010. (In fact, some of you have asked about the more worn lines).

Assisting us to see which paint delivers the best bang for the taxpayers’ buck are our pavement marking contractors. They too are asking questions like, “How thick does the paint need to be, to do the trick?” and “How long does the shine in the line last?”

Stay tuned for the results, as the contestants in the line paint challenge show their stuff.

Page 1 of 58 comments on “Looking for Line Painting that Can Take a Pounding”

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  1. Are you, or the Federal government, considering the emissions of vehicles pouring the paint? If you have to repaint more frequently then the vehicles’ emissions are multiplied for that time. Vehicle emissions could be as harmful for the environment (more or less?) than the toxins in the paint.

    • Hi Colleen,

      You make a good point. We have forwarded your comment to the project manager and will let you know what we hear back. Stay tuned.

      • I am more worried about the safety of line painting than emissions. A few years ago near Golden there was a fatality when a semi rear ended traffic when lines were being painted. More maintenance means more risk of an accident (something that needs to be considered in other ways – e.g. lane closures on multi-lane highways are much less hazardous than single laning on winding 2 lane highways – especially when they are as busy with heavy traffic as the Trans-Canada).

  2. Part of the issue is that the new low-VOC paints blend in with the road texture. This also means that they are not being applied thick enough which leads to premature wear (less than two years to completely clear pavement on some parts of the PMH1 project) and causes the lines to disappear in to the road surface at night and especially in the rain. Thick, raised paint will make a massive difference to road safety. Right now we are all driving and simply guessing where the lanes are at night in the rain.

  3. Good news! I have been concerned for a few years now since the highly reflective line paint was discontinued. Maybe with the outcome of these tests we might get something back that will make our roadways a little safer once again. Frankly when driving the canyon or highway 1 west of Hope on a rainy winter night with semis speeding by throwing up tons of spray its a wonder there are not a lot more incidents.
    Thanks fot tis, lets hope we get a good product out of the testing.

  4. Thank you. I would also ask that the grip be tested in the wet. I ride a motorcycle year-round (not in the snow or on potentially icy days) and I am very concerned about losing traction on the lane dividers. It’s concerning for cars but deadly for bikes—bicycles included.

    • Hi Anand,

      Thanks for touching base with us about the grip-ability of the new paint. We will share your comment forward with the project manager.