The seasons are shifting, fall is in the air, and as the temperature drops and moisture stays on the pavement longer your work in the field can get delayed. Your clients still want their pavement maintained, but once you’ve got the sealer cured how do you get the markings down, with paint needing to be applied at 50°F and rising? In some areas that’s not too difficult but the farther north you work the more difficult is to keep that work going into November and beyond.
One type of product that can help is preformed thermoplastic, which provides the benefits of molten thermoplastic without the need for melter and special applicators. Available in standard pavement marking colors and in virtually any shape or configuration including turn arrows, letters, stop bars, legends, handicapped symbols, performed thermoplastic provides property owners with long-lasting, durable markings while offering contractors an opportunity to extend their season.
“You don’t need special equipment to put it down vs. regular thermoplastic where you need a melter and applicator to apply. Preformed thermoplastic really helps the smaller companies that want to offer durability and reflectivity in their markings and who want to be able to extend their season but can’t afford to buy the extra equipment that regular thermoplastic material requires,” says Pamela Mencer, marketing manager/customer service preformed thermoplastics, for Swarco America, which recently added black and green to its four standard pavement marking colors.
Two Types of Preformed Thermoplastic
“Contractors can extend the season with preformed thermoplastic because minimum application temperatures are significantly lower than with other products,” says Ennis-Flint’s Zina Brooks, marketing director. Brooks says there are two distinct types of preformed thermoplastic, each with its set of application requirements. She says the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Traffic Control Devices Handbook recognizes these two types:
- Material where no preheating of the pavement surface to a given temperature is required
- Material that requires preheating of the pavement surface to a certain temperature
Brooks says contractors assume all preformed thermoplastic is the same because it looks the same but it’s not, so it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s application instructions. She says preformed thermoplastic that requires preheating of pavement is best for regions where pavement temperature can be raised to about 300°F (Mencer says 275°F works for Swarco’s product) and maintained at that temperature for proper timing and placement of the material. “Working in sections no larger than 2 feet x 4 feet at any one time, once the temperature of the pavement reaches 300°F you must immediately place the material onto the pavement and start heating it,” Brooks says. “This type of preformed thermoplastic heats both from the bottom up and from the top down so you need to make sure you are following proper application procedures for the type of material you are using.”
Brooks says Ennis-Flint is the only company that makes a preformed thermoplastic that does not require preheating of pavement, and she says this product is especially effective in extending the pavement marking season for contractors in colder climates. This product does not have any pavement or ambient temperature requirements for application.
Mencer stresses that preformed thermoplastic is a product entirely different from both temporary and permanent tape. “Permanent tape is made of rubber and is applied to the pavement by adhesive on the back side to get it to stick. You can add adhesive to make it stick better but it’s still not as effective a bond as preformed thermoplastic,” Mencer says. “Preformed offers better quality than tape and takes a beating better than tape. Preformed withstands traffic skids, wheel turns etc. where tape could more easily get pulled off.”