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Preserving Your Pavement

Preserving Your Pavement - Continued from Home Page...


By understanding six common assumptions, the reader can identify and better manage the quality control pertinent to our trade. Waterblasting offers the absolute greatest potential of all methods for preserving pavement surfaces during cleaning, whether removing paint or rubber.


When looking at old waterblasting work on an airfield, you will find pavement that appears to have been compromised by waterblasting. It is very important to note in most cases, human assumption created the disappointment.


As a specifier or manager of airfield markings, you can maximize your success by avoiding the following quality assurance missteps.


Assumption # 1: Someone thinks that 100% of paint or rubber “must go.”


Assumption #2: Someone organizes schedules without considering the benefits of technical experience and/or site testing. Under tight production windows, site testing is a great low-cost solution to optimal use of stringent closure times.


Assumption #3: Without realizing what is achievable, inspectors sometimes assume that because the technician has adjusted the energy footprint "three times already," that perhaps this is "good enough."


Assumption #4: Because waterblasting is relatively new as a main stream solution to airfields, most believe that all waterblasters are of similar capability. Performance Hydroblasting Inc. most often impresses experienced engineers with our extroidinery tooling, equipment, and results.


Assumtion #5: Someone decides that the pavement here is in "good enough shape" to expect great results.


Assumtion #6: Similar to #5 above: someone decides that the pavement here is "too bad" to expect great results.  


Let us look closer at assumption #6.


The reason waterblasting is the absolute most capable method for runway cleaning or paint removal, is it's “contour gauge” ability combined with rapid and simple adjustability. Grinders must set a certain depth and grind to the bottom of the pores (impact depth). Sandblasters must change abrasive size to reach micro-sized pores (impact volume). Shotblasters likewise rely on preset abrasive width (impact volume). Runways waterblasted with Performance Hydroblasting’s equipment have the distinct capacity to rapidly change volume, velocity, distribution density, deflection rate, penetration depth, and surface coverage area.


Someone who has been very impressed by waterblasting’s rubber and paint removal ability may not yet grasp the significance of articulation in this process. To achieve optimum results, the technician MUST be able to preset an energy footprint to reflect the thickness of the paint or rubber. If this thickness varies drastically inch by inch, you would literally need a one-inch spray bar to achieve optimum results. Of course, a one-inch spray bar could never achieve results within the time constraints of most runway projects; therefore, nobody builds a one-inch spray bar. An example of this scenario would be where thick paint has not bonded well and is flaking off in large chunks. The “craters” left by these flakes of loose paint will cause their part of the pavement to be unprotected from the blasting energy that will be applied to the surrounding runway. The best that can be done in this case, is to optimize a spray bar that can best accommodate the energy “mirror” needed for these conditions. Performance Hydroblasting’s team understands and excels in this requirement. Planners should keep this in mind when planning work times for such areas, especially where the asphalt is old and weak and NOT scheduled for replacement. Concrete is resilient enough to accommodate such conditions easily. Newer pavement, however, would not have multiple layers of paint, so this condition does not occur on new pavement.  


In cases of severely flaking paint where the paint is thick and thin in dramatic variations, waterblasting will take longer than normal to accomplish due to smaller heads required to apply the energy to so many different sizes of surface paint thickness. In these cases, the airfield engineers will typically balance the time constraints for the airport operations against the needs of the pavement and the percentage of markings needing removed. Once these considerations have been balanced, the airfield engineer typically provides instructions to the waterblasting staff working on the runway, ramp, taxiway, or airside gate areas. These instructions should be based upon a quick series of tests on that runway or tarmac during the early hours of production.


Performance Hydroblasting, Inc. provides low-cost, and in some cases, free testing services to airports for pre-determining tooling needs and realistic goals for runway specifiers and project managers, waterblasting technichians, airfield ops engineers, and airfield maintenance.


In 1978, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers published a Pavement Condition Index as a guide to scoring pavement. This publication can be very helpful in predetermining the results to be sought in a runway or taxiway waterblasting application.




Waterblasting offers the greatest potential for preserving pavement integrity while completely removing pavement markings. Performance Hydroblasting, INC is an industry leader in removal technology. Our customers are experiencing the highest standards achievable. We have customized our tooling and equipment to enhance these results even in the toughest site conditions.


Occasionally we discover that a previous waterblasting has underperformed in these goals. This is a particularly important topic to understood by engineers, inspectors, and project managers when considering waterblasting for paint or rubber removal. By understanding six common assumptions, the reader can identify and better manage the quality control pertinent to our trade.


Continued to Read about Assumption Definitions

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