High Tech Street Paint Actually Plastic!


Long lasting, highly reflective crosswalks in Hoboken!

Most people were annoyed by the month-long street resurfacing that Hudson County provided to the City of Hoboken – the traffic, congestion, parking, tickets and towing contributing to the headaches. Now that the problems have dissipated, you might want to know a bit about the technology that goes into some of these things we take for granted…

Street paint isn’t paint, but rather “Thermoplastic”

The workers at English Paving said the material they used to paint the crosswalks is a compound called “Thermoplastic” – and actually dries in just one minute!

“One of the most common types of road marking based on its balance between cost and performance longevity, thermoplastic binder systems are generally based on one of three core chemistries: hydrocarbons, rosin esters or maleic modified rosin esters (MMRE). Thermoplastic coatings are generally homogeneous dry mixes of binder resins, plasticizers, glass beads (or other optics), pigments and fillers. Their usage has increased over paints mainly due to the performance benefits of increased durability, retro-reflectivity and a lack of VOC solvents.

The thermoplastic mix is heated to about 200°C before being fed to the application apparatus. This is often a screed box or ribbon gun. Immediately after the thermoplastic has been applied, glass beads are laid onto the hot material so that they embed before the plastic hardens. These beads provide initial retro-reflection. As the marking wears during use and the initial beads are lost, the beads mixed with the binder are uncovered, providing long term reflectivity.”

Despite the benefits of such markings – there is still one drawback: Slippery when wet! On more than one occasion I lost my footing temporarily as I slipped on the slick surface. Word to the wise: when raining or cold & snowy – try to avoid the lines!

You may also like...

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Thursday, May 13, 2010 2:13 pm

Anybody know if the crews are going to put the yellow stripes back in front of the fire hydrants? People are blocking the hydrants because the boxes haven’t been repainted. Could be a new Hoboken ticket scam. Can’t tell if you’re parking too close to the hydrant if the yellow lines aren’t painted.

Thursday, May 13, 2010 12:27 pm

Speaking of painting municiple stuff on pavement, I was glad (overjoyed?) to see someone finaly painted proper “Bike lane” symbols along the esplanade along the river. These large obviouse pictograms are a welcome site along the two lane bike path which is constantly being blocked by three-abreast pedestrians and unatentive dog walkers. It would be unneighborly to insist that the bike path be used ONLY for bike riders, but cyclists can’t help noticing, as they weave through dense thickets of clueless pedestrians on the bike path, that there is a fine wide pedestrian boulevard imdeiatly adjacent.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:49 pm

Slippery indeed. I nearly ate it this morning when I was walking to drop off my daughter.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 12:14 pm

But how many of the newly paved streets have already been broken up due to water main breaks and other utility repairs. I have seen way too many. 😛

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 11:46 am

I was thinking maybe the guy applying this stuff might want to wear a mask. It was pretty easy to find a Thermoplastic Application Manual online, though, and there is no frightening skull-and-crossbones warning about inhalation of this stuff. That’s good news for him! I always feel bad for people that risk their lives & health for their [thankless] jobs. That also goes for the maniac motorists on my morning commute-it’s not worth it people!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x