Every once in a while, I get a call asking why a customer’s white paint turned a lovely shade of minty green. I always know it’s the acetone paint, and the answer to the question is that it somehow reacts with older asphalt. I’ve had no issues with layouts on newer asphalt. I’ve also had no issues with simple restripes. No matter the cause, the fix is easy: Just stripe it again. I bid two coats. The second coat should cover it all. And, since stencils get a second coat anyway, it’s an easy fix.
Safer AND Track-Free
In my native Ohio, oil-based traffic marking paint has been outlawed because it contains volatile organic compounds (VOC) that hurt the ozone. Since 2005 acetone paint instantly became our official cool weather paint. Nothing dries more quickly, and I’ve had no tracking issues. Tracking, to me, occurs when paint may be dry, but not thoroughly cured. Then, when a car drives over your new stripes, stop bars or cross walks, dirt is tracked and imbedded into the paint. You’ll have tire marks. Bummer.
I’ll never forget two stop bar projects. One was in summer, and the other was in the fall. The summer job was a hospital’s open parking lot. There were 25 stop bars that needed to be resprayed. I placed two strips of masking tape along the 24-inch dimension. I sprayed from the tape toward the curb. I slightly overlapped five or six of the 12-foot stripes and built it out to a width of 24 inches. I pulled the tape and stood there for less than a minute. I stepped on the dry paint, saw no tracking and moved on to the next. Sometimes I rode over the new bar. Yes, it was summer — but, again, acetone dries quickly and I saw no tracking.
The fall job was similar but included crosswalks. I remember leaving the house following Thanksgiving dinner, after company had left and the dishes were done. I striped the crosswalks and stop bars at a well-known big box store. I remember seeing people standing in line waiting to get into that store. It was early morning and had officially crossed over into Black Friday. I’m sure they thought I was nuts. I remember spraying the first crosswalk in halves. That was unnecessary, even during cool weather. I striped the others and blocked the entire lane. The traffic was obviously light, but, again, acetone dries rocket-sled fast and I had no tracking issues. I love the paint. It extends my season at both ends. It’ll extend yours, too.
Come Clean With Xylene
Another thing to know about using acetone is that the cleaning agent is xylene. In my town, xylene costs as much as the paint and you can’t simply dispose of it. But these issues have easy fixes.
To mitigate repetitive costs and disposal issues, I don’t clean my machine. Many stripers don’t. The first time I chose not to clean my machine was on a 400-car restripe. Half the job was slated for Monday, the other half for Tuesday. Monday night, after the job, I didn’t sleep well. But, Tuesday morning, I pulled the trigger and all was well. Here’s some added advice, do not travel with 4 gallons in an open paint bucket. It’ll splash. I only travel with a few inches of paint in the open bucket.
There are a few tricks to delay skinning over, but I rarely employ those. I do, however, have a strict rule when it comes to changing from latex to acetone (or the other way around): Never let water touch acetone, and never let xylene touch latex. Here’s the routine: Flush out the latex using water. Then push out the water using xylene, before installing acetone. When the opposite is needed, start by pushing out the acetone using xylene. Then push out the xylene using water, before installing latex. One time I pushed out water with acetone paint. Silly string came from my gun for the longest five seconds of my life before the acetone showed up. As a rule, I only let the cleaning agents touch each other.
Bottom line: Acetone based traffic marking paint is my go-to cool and cold weather paint. Yes, the paint may turn a slight green color under very few, select circumstances, and it does cost a little bit more overall. But, with acetone’s lightning fast drying rate and its lack of tracking issues – it extends my season and adds to my bottom line – I’ll take those trades