Airport Marking - Paint & Bead Durability Study

Airport pavement markings are a critical component of airfield visual aids, and it is especially important that they be properly maintained. In order to accomplish this, airports expend considerable resources to maintain the effectiveness of the marking system.

The approach taken during the course of this project was to evaluate potential materials for operational and environmental suitability, select materials, and install them at an airport test site. The Federal Aviation Administration Office of Aviation Research, Airport Technology Research and Development Branch, Airport R&D, has evaluated paint and bead durability in three areas:

  1. Water emulsion paint performance
  2. Glass bead performance
  3. Application thickness of paint


It was also the intent to evaluate a cementitious pavement marking material, however due to installation problems this material was not evaluated.

A series of airport pavement markings were placed at the Atlantic City International Airport for evaluation.
The three paints used were from:


  1. Rohm and Haas
  2. Sherwin-Williams
  3. TMT


The four beads used were:


  1. 1.5 IOR Visibead A (L-511)
  2. 1.5 IOR Visibead B (L-511 Millennium)
  3. 1.5 IOR Megalux A (Airport and Highway High Quality and High Performance Drop-On)
  4. 1.5 IOR Megalux B (Airport “Beacon” High Quality and High Performance).




  1. HD-21A Rohm and Haas water emulsion paint held retro-reflective beads better. The coupling agent sprayed on the beads improves bead retention on the paint, initially and over time.
  2. Type III (1.9 IOR) airport beads had the best retro-reflectivity, initially and over time. All four new 1.5 IOR beads are acceptable.
  3. At the application thickness of 0.33 mm (15 mil) more beads adhere to the paint, allowing better retro-reflective readings.


Contact Project Lead  Holly Cyrus