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Different Line Removal Methods

Different Line Removal Methods

Whether a road needs to be changed or the initial line marking work wasn’t carried out to high standards, it’s not uncommon for road markings to be removed. In this article, the Northern Marking team will be covering the main different road marking removal methods, ensuring that you have a complete understanding of when and why they are used.

Thermal lance

Thermal lancing can be considered one of the oldest and most commonly-used line removal methods. This type of line removal involves burning away the markings using compressed air. The compressed air is heated to an extremely high temperature and then directed at the marking to be removed. 

Thermal lancing is also one of the most cost-effective line removal methods, and because it can be carried out quickly, traffic disruption is minimised greatly.

One problem with thermal lancing is that it can be rather noisy, meaning that it should be avoided in town centres and residential areas, if possible.


Another common method of line removal, scabbling involves the use of force rather than heat to remove the line marking. The scabbler itself is a large piece of machinery which uses a rotating drum of tungsten-tipped pins that scrape and cut the markings away from the surface of the road. They’re particularly effective at getting rid of thermoplastic markings from concrete.

As well as completely removing markings, scabblers can also be used to even out road markings that are thicker in some places than others. 

Scabbling is considered to be a very cost-effective line removal method. A scabbler can be hand operated by just one person and can remove up to 1,000 feet of markings per hour while causing little disruption to traffic.

However, due to the force exerted by a scabbler, they are much less suitable for fragile roads and surfaces than thermal lancing. If used on the wrong sort of surface, a scabbler could cause permanent damaging or scarring.


Waterblasting, while considered to be an extremely effective line removal technique, can be very expensive. Ultimately, this means that it will rarely end up being as cost-effective as thermal lancing or scabbling when used on a larger scale.

Hand-operated waterblasting machinery is often used to remove warehouse line markings, as this can be more of a delicate process than removing road markings on junctions.

Pneumatic chipping bar

For smaller-scale line removal projects, a hand-controlled pneumatic chipping bar can be used to remove line markings. However, if the project grows in scale at all, this method will be far less time-efficient than opting for scabbling or thermal lancing.

Northern Marking is based in Manchester, but provides services to clients in the following areas; Huddersfield, Blackburn, Rochdale, Preston and beyond.

As an ISO 9001:2008 accredited company, you can trust Northern Marking to get the job done properly. We’re the leading road marking contractor around Manchester and beyond, meaning we’re the go-to people for all of your line removal needs. We’re well-equipped to use a variety of line removal methods, so we can select the right one to suit the job at hand.

Give Northern Marking a call today and find out how we can help with your line removal project.

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