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Pavement markings won’t last forever, even if you choose the most durable permanent pavement marking tape. The highest quality pavement markings are rated for up to 36 months of use, but will need repair or replacement beyond this period. To ensure future applications adhere properly, required steps must be followed to remove old markings and prepare the surface for new pavement markings. Additionally, proper removal is necessary if you regularly change promotional pavement marking signs or advertisements. Consider these points when repairing or reapplying pavement markings.

Repair or Reapplication: How to Choose

If the majority of the parking lot or roadway lines are in good condition, you may be able to repair sections of damaged pavement marking tape rather than removing and re-applying everything. When deciding between repair or a total reapplication, consider:

  • Application age. If the full application is nearing the end of its rated lifespan, you may find that you are repairing section after section. You may save time and effort by removing and repairing your pavement markings all at once, rather than in segments.
  • Location. If parts of the pavement markings are not exposed to vehicular traffic or the elements at the same rate as the damaged section, the application may last longer than average. If this is the case, you may choose to only repair the damaged sections.
  • Limited damaged area. You may find that forklifts, snowplows, excessive traffic, or poor surface conditions contribute to the failure of pavement markings in some—but not all—areas. If damage is restricted to specific areas, but the remainder of the markings are in good condition, a repair may be all you need.
  • Length of project. If a short-term detour, construction job, or roadwork will render markings irrelevant at the end of the job, but the pavement tape is damaged during the project, you may only need to repair the markings as damage occurs, rather than replace the full application.
  • Large-scale updates. Changes in traffic patterns, safety information, or communication needs may require more than a simple repair: If messaging or visual cues must change, save time and stretch the budget by completing the project all at once.
  • Unexpected needs. If you find that the current application isn’t meeting your needs, you may choose to remove and reapply rather than repair it. If you’re noticing traffic bottlenecks, confusing or incomplete instructions, slippery or difficult to see pavement markings, or increased damage from plows or other vehicles, you may improve these circumstances with a new pavement marking plan.

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 lines. To avoid these hazards, all pavement markings should be removed following the methods recommended by the manufacturer or the local DOT.

How to Prepare Pavement After Tape Removal

After removing old permanent or temporary pavement markings, follow these three pre-application steps to prepare the pavement prior to re-marking the surfaces:

Remove Old Markings or Paint

First, ensure all traces of the original taped lines or signs are gone, as debris left behind may reduce the efficacy of new tape. You may need to scrub, sand- or water-blast, or grind the pavement to remove old markings. Without removing old paint or taped pavement markings, the new markings may not fully adhere, and the application may fail. Similarly, only apply new pavement markings to dry asphalt or concrete—markings applied to damp surfaces may not bond sufficiently and will require repair.

Ensure the Road Surface Is Smooth and Clean

Tape or signs should not be applied over cracks, deteriorating asphalt or concrete surfaces, rumble strips, or traffic control devices. These interfere with the adhesive. For the best results when applying taped striping or lines, use butt splices where tape intersects and allow a one-inch gap on either side of pavement seams or cracks. Striping and signs will not last on buckled or deteriorating paved surfaces—always ensure roadways are in good repair when applying pavement markings.

Always clean the road surface first, whether you’re replacing existing markings or you’re applying taped lines to new pavement. Sweep away large debris, then use a compressed air blower to clear away any remaining particles.

Apply Your Primer

For applications that require primer or sealer, determine which primer you require. Construction Grade primer is ideal for temporary applications where the surface temperature is less than 50 degrees, while a permanent primer adhesive is used to create a permanent bond when applying roadway or parking lot signs. Mark your application area on the paved surface, then apply the primer to cover the surface. After the primer has dried (about five minutes) the surface is ready and you can apply your new lines or sign.

After you’ve determined whether you’ll repair or replace your pavement markings and followed these steps for preparing the asphalt or concrete surface, you’re ready to apply your new visual cues. For more tips for indoor and outdoor floor markings, explore our Resource Center.