Published: 2021-06-24

A study of premium glass beads for road marking materials

Tomasz E. Burghardt , Anton Pashkevich , Kevin M. Wenzel


Road markings are a necessary safety feature on almost all roads. For appropriate performance they must be reflectorised with glass beads. To demonstrate the differences between traditional and modern thin-layer road marking solutions, four road marking systems were compared in the field. Based on measurements of retroreflectivity, influence of glass beads and paint on service life was estimated. The use of high-performance waterborne paint reflectorised with premium glass beads permitted for over sixfold extension of durability. Financial analysis demonstrated that the considerable additional expense associated with purchase of modern materials was fully offset through increased service life: even 65% savings could be realised in the long term. Subsequent analysis of the used glass beads under optical and scanning electron microscopes provided information about their surface; intact and damaged glass beads were observed. Surprisingly, damaged glass beads were found to have crater-like surface features instead of the expected scratches.


glass beads, glass beads damage, retroreflectivity, road markings, service life, waterborne paint.

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Burghardt, T. E., Pashkevich, A., & Wenzel, K. M. (2021). A study of premium glass beads for road marking materials. Roads and Bridges - Drogi I Mosty, 20(2), 125–138.

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