Is it Possible to Remove Pavement Markings?

parking-lot-striping-process-5Asphalt pavement professionals often need to remove pavement markings before new ones can be applied. For example, two-way streets can be changed to one-way streets (or vice versa) or regular parking spaces may need to be reconfigured for handicapped parking when designing a parking lot layout. Professionals have a number of different techniques in their toolkits for removing parking lot markings. The one selected will depend on factors such as the scope of the project, the time requirements and the desired appearance of the asphalt after removal.

There are three basic methods that can be used to remove pavement markings. They can be ground off, blasted off or chemically dissolved. Various methods exist within each of these three broad categories.


The most common method used to grind away pavement markings is called scarifying. This process uses a machine with a rotating wheel of metal cutters that turns on a vertical axis. The machines are adjustable to prevent taking away too much of the asphalt, but they will remove a thin layer of it. This leaves behind a textured “ghost line” rather than a perfect finish. The method is commonly used for jobs that need to be completed quickly, do not require an aesthetically perfect result and cannot generate an excessive amount of debris.

Disc or horizontal grinders are not commonly used to remove pavement markings on asphalt although they are often used on concrete floors. However, there are occasions when an asphalt contractor might feel that this is the best solution for a small patch of asphalt.


Virtually any material can be placed under extreme pressure and directed against a surface to remove its outer layer. For removing markings on asphalt pavement, the two most common choices are sand and water, both of which are highly effective. Sand blasting is typically the more economical of the two, but it puts a lot of dust in the air that can make the procedure undesirable in areas that must remain open to high-volume pedestrian traffic. Also, the sand must usually be removed from the site and disposed of properly, so time for clean-up must be computed in determining how long the task will take.

Water blasting (not to be confused with power washing) uses the same principles as sand blasting, substituting water for the sand. The water is delivered in fine, sharp jets under very high pressure. These “needles” of water are extremely effective at stripping away markings without damaging the asphalt.


Chemical solvents can remove pavement markings — but many of them can also dissolve asphalt and sealcoating. Therefore, solvents are seldom used to remove markings on asphalt pavement. Only a professional asphalt contractor experienced with using solvents for different applications can determine whether they should be used to remove pavement markings.

For More Information

The team members at Affordable Striping & Sealing are pavement maintenance experts with extensive experience in the removal of pavement markings, installation of concrete parking block, parking lot striping, asphalt sealcoating and asphalt crack repair. We offer our services throughout the greater Las Vegas area. Our crews have handled major jobs for some of the area’s largest enterprises, delivering quality work — on time and at competitive prices. Use our online form to request a free quote, or call us at 702-222-9009 to discuss your pavement needs.

Affordable Striping & Sealing are the “Asphalt Maintenance Las Vegas, NV” experts!