Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

October, 2007

Black Reflective Paint for a Speed Bump

Q: Someone told me that there is a black reflective coating that can be put on speed bumps that makes them stand out in the sun light and reflects head lights at night. Do you have any info on that?

A: Your local municipal road department uses a traffic marking paint to line city streets and freeways. If you go to the Internet and search for traffic marking paint you will find many suppliers.  Most of these paints are not reflective in themselves, but by sprinkling small glass beads into the paint after you have applied it, you can get the reflectivity you desire. Therefore, if you purchase traffic marking paint, I suggest that you also purchase a small bag of glass beads. Immediately after the paint is applied, and while it is still wet sprinkle the beads into the paint. To do this you can simply fill your hand with beads and scatter them, much as you might do when you apply fertilizer to a lawn. Alternatively, you can take an empty food can, punch large holes into the bottom and then  use the can much like a salt shaker. This must be done while the paint is still wet.  The size of the beads will determine the light reflectivity.  Large diameter beads will tend to fall out of the paint film soon after cars drive over them. On the other hand, beads that are too small will be totally embedded in the paint and only the tops of the protruding beads will reflect light.  

If I were to paint speed bumps for the first time , I would contact my local road maintenance department and visit their paint shop. The painters who stripe the roads will easily be able to demonstrate how the painting procedure is carried out. In fact, you might ask them for a paint recommendation and then purchase the same diameter beads that they use.


Finally, 3M makes a host of reflective products for roads and you might find something suitable in their catalog.


Ron Joseph

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