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Pavement Marking: A Guide to Applications & Techniques

Article Read Time
4 min

Road striping is an integral part of the traffic management system and plays a crucial role in maintaining order and safety on the road. Whether it’s the white lines demarcating lanes or the yellow ones indicating traffic direction, road stripes are indispensable for drivers and pedestrians alike.

At National Capital Industries, we’re recognized for contributing significantly to road safety and traffic management. Providing services in the DMV area, we are committed to providing quality road striping products and abiding by all safety regulations. Our expertise and knowledge in road lines and markings, gathered over 60 years of operation, make us a reliable partner for your diverse line striping needs.

Infographic for NatCap about road striping use cases

Know Your Road Striping: Deep Dive on Permanent and Temporary Uses

Regulatory bodies such as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) strictly oversee the application of road striping. They establish standards for road markings, which ensures uniformity across all states, enhancing road safety and efficiency.

Temporary Road Striping: Work Zones, Construction & More

Temporary road striping is a vital tool in construction, offering flexibility and safety during roadwork. Applied with easily removable materials like temporary striping tape or paint, it provides clear guidance for motorists and pedestrians while allowing for quick adjustments. From delineating lanes to marking detours, it ensures smooth traffic flow and enhances safety without the permanence of traditional markings, making it an important consideration in road maintenance, and other construction projects.

In construction zones, the role of road striping becomes even more pivotal. This is an area where standard road layout may change abruptly and drivers might need more immediate visual guidance. Providing this crucial visual cue falls onto the capable shoulders of striping crews, that use a striping train to establish temporary warning and direction symbols to keep both construction workers and the passing traffic safe.

Permanent Road Striping

Typically, a white line on the road serves as a lane divider in traffic proceeding in the same direction. On the other hand, a yellow line separates traffic moving in opposite directions. When driving, the difference between a narrow strip and a full line on the road can mean a welcomed overtaking opportunity or a stern warning against it.

Also, it’s important to realize that road markings are not just restricted to roads. For instance, parking lot lane striping plays an instrumental role in maintaining order and preventing chaos in parking areas by:

  • Designating specific areas for parking
  • Directing traffic flow
  • Marking pedestrian crossing
  • Highlighting handicapped spots

Next time you’re squeezing your vehicle through a narrow lane for an unexpected lane shift, rest assured, a striping train was at work to guide you safely through it.

Parking lot pavement lines

The Road Marking Process

The road striping process can be more complex than simply pouring paint onto the road surface. Road striping involves careful planning, applying the right mix of materials like paint or thermoplastic and sometimes, glass beads for enhanced visibility, and executing it at the right time usually involves a whole team, called a striping crew.

Involving a paint crew, precise machinery, and thoughtful logistics, road marking applications are a strategic operation that demands precision.

Roadway divider lines and markers

Thermoplastic in Road Striping

When it comes to the world of road markings, not all paints are created equal. One pavement material has been dominating the road marking scene – thermoplastic marking.

Thermoplastic is an advanced pavement marking material made with synthetic resin and is known for its durability and fast drying capabilities. Unlike traditional pavement markings, thermoplastic is not just a mere layer on the pavement surface but rather forms a durable bond with the asphalt, offering an extensively longer lifespan. This critical feature makes it the ideal choice for high traffic areas where regular repainting is not feasible.

Yet, the benefits of thermoplastic don’t end with longevity. Thanks to its exceptional reflective quality, the thermoplastic material can significantly improve the visibility of road markings, especially in demanding weather conditions like rain and fog. The secret behind this enhanced reflectivity is an ingenious addition during its application and manufacture – glass beads. The minute, reflective glass beads embedded firmly into the liquid thermoplastic paint ensure that headlights are reflected back to the driver, enabling a clear visual of markings even during the darkest nights and challenging weather conditions, leading to overall improved road safety.

 Thermoplastic pavement markings significantly enhance guidance on the roadways, ensuring safer journeys for everyone. In addition, given its durability, choosing thermo also proves to be a cost-effective solution in the long run, with a reduced frequency of re-applications.

Boy with bicycle and his younger sister with scooter stand before crossing at red traffic light

Ensuring Road Safety with Quality Road Striping

Leaning heavily on visual cues, drivers rely on these markings to guide them through road construction, especially in zones of high traffic volume. Construction managers should be considerate of using high-quality brands for optimal performance.

 Well-maintained road markings can drastically reduce safety hazards, preventing accidents. Road striping guides in tricky situations such as lane shifts or narrow strips, while simultaneously supplying critical information, like speed limits and warnings of forthcoming crosswalks or road entry points.

At National Capital Industries, we recognize the undeniable advantages that thermoplastic brings and are proud to offer it as part of our extensive product portfolio. Our thermoplastic from Crown USA Inc. is of the highest quality on the market and is sure to get the job done!

Creative pavement markings in Baltimore, MD by Graham Projects

Unconventional Art: Pavement Markings to Beautify Urban Cityscapes

Road striping can be used in many different ways- including public art! Offering so much more than white and yellow paint, our friends at Graham Projects in Baltimore, MD showcase how pavement marking can be utilized as public art, civic engagement, and tactical urbanism, making the community more beautiful one road at a time. 

Working closely with local associations and the Department of Transportation, their team can make creative statements while enhancing public safety. Graham Projects’ colorful art slows down cars and makes it safer for pedestrians to cross the streets.

For more information on Graham Projects and their mission of creative urban design, check out their website here.

Rainbow road striping by Graham Projects in Baltimore, MD

NatCap for Road Striping Supplies

As an essential part of our road systems, road striping requires skill, knowledge of safety protocols, precision, and most importantly, the right materials. This is where National Capital Industries steps in – Not only do we provide top-tier striping materials and equipment, but we also have the expert knowledge and experience to back it up.

For road striping, we recommend Crown USA Inc. Paired with our Titan PowrLiner 3500 paint cart or Graco 3900 2-Gun cart, you will notice enhanced visibility and durability for any road marking project.

Apart from thermo, we also cater to your water-based paint requirements, especially suitable for areas with lower traffic. Choose from our additional pavement marking materials and traffic safety items such as:

We pride ourselves in being a one-stop destination for every roadway striping need. If you are looking for equipment in road striping, a wide array of other construction products to meet your needs, or advice on the best tools for your specific project, contact us today!

From the first sign to the last line, NatCap has you covered.


“USA Banner.” Federal Highway Administration, Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

“Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.” MUTCD, Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

“Graham Projects.” Graham Projects, Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.