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If roadway or parking lot traffic patterns or visual cues need to be updated, existing taped or painted pavement markings must be removed before applying new markings. This prevents confusion and also ensures new markings adhere properly. Methods for removing permanent and temporary pavement markings differ depending on marking type and if you intend to replace them. These tips help you choose the right method to remove painted, permanent, or temporary pavement markings, signs, and lines.

Removing Painted Parking Lot Markings

To remove painted parking lot striping or roadway lines, grinding, sandblasting, water blasting, or chemical removal may be required to strip the paint from the paved surface. While water- and sandblasting tend not to harm the asphalt, grinding or chemical processes may alter the color or texture of the road surface.

There is no one best solution for removing old painted parking lot markings or road stripes as every project and location has unique needs. Choose the appropriate removal process on an individual basis. These removal methods also require proper pavement or concrete preparation prior to re-applying painted or taped lines.

Temporary Versus Permanent Pavement Tape Removal

While grinding or scarifying pavement may be necessary to remove painted lines, these processes are not required to remove adhesive-backed permanent and temporary markings. When removing pavement marking signs, crosswalk lines, parking lot striping, traffic pattern changes, and other visual cues, consider these points:

  • Temperature should be above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Solvents, chemicals, and sand- or water-blasting are not necessary under normal conditions.
  • Pull up small sections at a time, slowly, by hand.
  • If applied with primer, pavement tape may be more difficult to remove—however it should still come away by hand.

How to Remove Permanent Pavement Striping

Permanent pavement markings, such as striping, crosswalks, and graphics, create visual cues that last through inclement weather and traffic. A durable rubber base ensures permanent pavement marking tape adheres well and withstands vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Extended life highway tape is ideal for use in high-traffic areas or under other demanding conditions—often for a service period of 24 to 36 months.

A heavy-grade, pressure-sensitive adhesive is formulated to withstand roadway conditions but removes in large pieces when necessary. Permanent parking lot markings can usually be removed without grinding or sandblasting, as is required for painted lines. Tools to assist with peeling and scraping can speed up the process, and direct heat application may aid in the removal of stubborn permanent pavement tape or signs.

Tips for Temporary Pavement Marking Removal

Temporary lines and signs are designed to remove easily, without chemicals or grinding. While temporary pavement markings are not intended for long-term use, they will withstand traffic and weather—often lasting long enough to mark short-term detours, such as for changes in traffic flow due to construction. Depending on the application location and weather and traffic conditions, temporary pavement tape may last well beyond the minimum service period, which may be between 6 to 12 months, depending on the grade and quality tape purchased.

Like with permanent pavement tape, applying heat directly to the pavement markings may be helpful in the removal process. While temporary pavement markings are designed to come away easily, without leaving behind residue, these markings should be removed as soon as they’re no longer necessary for the best results.

How to Cover Permanent Pavement Markings

In construction areas, old pavement markings can create confusion and hazardous situations—but it may not be cost-effective to remove existing, permanent lines. Camouflage tape covers lines in areas where traffic patterns or visual cues must be temporarily changed due to construction or road work projects. Adjust traffic patterns, without confusion, using custom printed camouflage tape or heavy-duty, removable black line masking tape. Applying temporary pavement tape to cover lines prevents the need for costly, time-consuming removal of old lines during a short-term project—and subsequent re-application of pavement lines when the project is complete.

This method should only be considered as a short-term solution. Using black tape or paint to cover old pavement markings may not be an effective long-term option: The black lines may be distracting or confusing to drivers, and the paint may wear away over time to reveal the old markings. To avoid these hazards, all unnecessary pavement markings should be removed following the methods recommended by the manufacturer or the local DOT.

When pavement markings must change, the main options include sandblasting or grinding, removing permanent or temporary taped lines by hand, or masking permanent markings with temporary camouflage tape. For more pavement and floor marking tips, explore our Resource Center.