We all see the stripes on roads everyday but have you ever wondered how it's done?i work for a company that does it. There are several different ways it's done depending on what kind of road ad what it's made out of. Ask me anything you want to know about it!

Here's a crosswalk I was in the middle of putting in. http://imgur.com/YJcJ8eY

Comments: 98 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

Mr_Slothstronaut30 karma

Are the highway lines really 10 feet long? Wouldn't even know lol.

Blalockjames23 karma

Yep they are. On a normal street they're just 6 feet long.

jakethedog31717 karma

if you back up does it erase what you painted?

Blalockjames18 karma

Nope just puts tread marks in it

VictorVaughan15 karma

Does your job present much opportunity to meet hot chicks?

Blalockjames34 karma

Sometimes it does. We've been flashed a couple of times.

TreNonymous12 karma

They were painting the roadstripes for the center line on my way back from classes right now. I noticed it seemed they were using a lot of heat? im assuming his is to cure the paint quick so it doesnt smear and mess up if people drive on it?

Blalockjames26 karma

Correct. But what they were using isn't paint. I'm assuming it's on asphalt? If so, they were using thermoplastic. Essentially it's a powder that's heated to 450 degrees to melt and make pourable. It only takes a couple minutes to cure and when it does it's not coming off anytime soon. It burns like a bitch when it gets on you.

TreNonymous7 karma

shit you learn every day! thanks for the reply man!

Blalockjames7 karma

No problem man!

philtech7 karma

Is this the stuff I see on the sides of the shoulder, all chipped off the white line by snowplows during the winter? It almost looks like pottery shards laying on the side of the highway in some places as I'm riding my bike.

Blalockjames7 karma

Most likely. It's probably thermo. It's plastic heated to 450 degrees and then hardens in minutes.

philtech5 karma

Thanks. It appears at a glance to have considerably more thickness than paint. Is it sprayed, extruded, or rolled out? It almost looks like it came off a roll, was heated and then mashed onto the pavement.

Blalockjames9 karma

On the truck towards the back there's guns that spray it. Well not so much spray as it just runs out while the truck is moving. It's maybe a quarter of an inch thick.

firemarshalbill1 karma

Except on the PA turnpike, where they don't cure it after applying apparently, and your sideview mirrors and bumpers get an amazing yellow speckle if you're unluckily on it shortly after.

Blalockjames3 karma

The stuff automatically cures itself by waiting. That's your fault for not being patient

the_singular_anyone11 karma

Do you ever paint anything not white or yellow?

If so, how?

Blalockjames16 karma

Some crosswalks by schools have like a green and white color. We use hot tape for that, that gets burned in by a giant blow torch. Interstates have black paint right after the white and that's just black paint in a separate tank.

deathwish6449 karma

Why are white lines followed by black lines on the interstate?

Blalockjames14 karma

It's makes the reflection easier to see at faster speeds

ConradChekhov11 karma

Have you ever painted stripes on a human?

Blalockjames27 karma

Only with edible chocolate body paint ;)

Frajer10 karma

I've never seen crooked stripes on the road, how do you make sure they're so perfectly straight?

Blalockjames15 karma

We mark it out with a string line and spray paint first. There's a camera mounted on the side of the truck and a screen in the cab with crosshairs on it. The driver will watch the screen and keep where the lines intersect on the line we spray painted on the road.

sexittforme7 karma

I have seen a lot of crooked lines. How does one fuck that up?

Blalockjames7 karma

Some stuff is done by hand. Try pushing a 200 pound cart and trying to make it perfectly straight. Not gonna happen.

VictorVaughan9 karma

ever leave your initials or your mark on one of your lines as sort of a 'Blalockjames was here' sort of a deal? Don't worry, we won't tell

Blalockjames11 karma

Nope. There's an inspector that comes out for every job we do. So I couldn't get away with it

VictorVaughan4 karma

You could make your own mark that no one would notice except you... like when I was a bored kid, I used to take come pliers and make my own unique mark on coins to see if they ever came back to me

Blalockjames7 karma

I'm guessing you never had one come back into your hands? I just remember the jobs I've done when I'm driving through the area

BorderColliesRule7 karma

Not long ago I watch a driver in a brand new (still had the 30day paper plates) jet black Range Rover splatter coat both sides of his new Rover because he was too busy on the phone and not paying attention to his driving and driving on lines that were JUST painted. Ie, the painting vehicle was maybe 100-150 yards in front.

My question is how hard will it be to remove his new white and yellow splatter coat paint job?

Blalockjames9 karma

Pretty hard. They were probably using epoxy paint which will splatter. We use brake cleaner to get it off. It's not impossible but it'll mess up the finish on the car. That's why people just need to be patient and wait.

NextDayAir4 karma

do you laugh your ass off at the people who get pissed off and fly by you and end up covering the side of their vehicle with paint?

Blalockjames7 karma

It's pretty funny. We get cussed at a lot for doing our jobs but we cuss back at them

mamacrocker6 karma

What is that black ribbony stuff that waves around from under the striping after a bad winter? And why is it necessary to block off ten miles at a time when people are only working on two?

Blalockjames7 karma

That's from a separate company filling in the cracks in the road. It's not from striping. And also from another company to block the road off for construction. We don't close te road to stripe.

appleapple1231236 karma

How do you get rid of painted directional on the road, example a lane changes from left turn/straight to straight only?

Blalockjames9 karma

We will grind away the whole thing and either put a straight arrow in or put nothing there. Most of the time when they do that is when they redo the road so it's not often that it happens. At least where I live it's not often.

Blalockjames6 karma

Not often. The good companies blow off the road where they're going to stripe.

philtech5 karma

Is it ground glass in highway stripes that gives them their nighttime reflectivity?

Did you ever get the urge to do the Bart Simpson trick and make all the parking spaces a just little bit too narrow?

Blalockjames10 karma

It is glass. They're called beads. There's a few different sizes. Nope I haven't. Our company doesn't do many parking lots. There's smaller companies that do those. We mainly do roads and highways.

SequesterMe5 karma

Couldn't you do other colors?

Like, doesn't it get old after awhile?

Blalockjames9 karma

It has to be yellow or white. That's a government thing. It does but the pay doesn't.

joshiboi1084 karma

Can you give us an idea of said pay?

Blalockjames11 karma

Sometimes it's $12 an hour, sometimes it's $17 an hour and up to as much as $43 an hour. There's always overtime and Sunday is automatically time and a half.

cornponious4 karma

How many Rush albums do you own?

Blalockjames2 karma

Who owns albums these days?

barleystraw4 karma

Sometimes I'll see lines that look like they've slipped or shifted a little bit, especially on crosswalks. Is it normal for that stuff to eventually shift out of place over time if cars are driving over it constantly?

Blalockjames4 karma

It's not the actual paint, thermo or sometimes tape that's slipping but that so many cars drive over the road everyday that it grooves the pavement.

TitoMPG4 karma

I will try to find the link to the most recent article but what is your take on when people mess up the lines and don't fix it? Are there any situations in which they can't? Sorry if you answered this somewhere else in your AMA!


Blalockjames6 karma

When people drive over wet paint we don't fix it. It costs more and sometimes they have to redo the pavement to fix it. If it's a line that isn't straight but not that bad we just leave it. Some stuff has to be done by hand carts and it's damn near impossible to get a perfectly straight line. Now if a bunch of paint or thermo spills then it'll get redone. Hopefully that answers it for you.

Blalockjames3 karma

And my company is subcontracted so it's usually up to the main contractor. They're usually a construction or paving company.

Polite_Ghost3 karma

Is the super reflective paint sold non-commercially? maybe i would like to make my whole bicycle yellow so i don't get hit by cars at night...

Blalockjames6 karma

It's only super reflective when we spray glass beads on it while it's wet. I'd assume they sell stuff like that at Home Depot or lowes.

Blalockjames3 karma

Nope. We're fortunate enough to know how to spell.

awsomeman11161 karma

Is there anything that can go terribly wrong when doing your job?

Blalockjames1 karma

Probably someone getting hit by a car. That's about the worst that could happen.

KirbyPasta1 karma

Did you ever paint a road stripe over a dead animal?

Blalockjames1 karma

Nope. The road get blown off before we stripe anything.

MandMcounter1 karma

Do you know how parking space widths are decided? It seems like they vary, but I thought there might be some kind of legislation about a minimum width.

Also, why aren't more crosswalks done with that zebra-crossing style with the fat white lines. Wouldn't it make them easier to see and safer?

Blalockjames2 karma

I'm not sure about parking spaces but the minimum width or a road is 9 feet so I would assume the same for parking spaces. As for the crosswalks, a lot are like that on bigger intersections but they are a pain in the ass to do since we can't to it with the trucks.

[deleted]1 karma


Blalockjames3 karma

The company who did it messed up? I have no idea. Do you live in the US or Germany?