Reflective paint has the ability to reflect heat and light because it contains tiny glass spheres. Its main uses are on objects that need to be easily visible at night when light is shined upon them, such as road signs and vehicle number plates. It is also used on buildings to lower indoor temperature by reflecting sunlight and insulating the interior from heat.
Shown here are the paints that are totally reflecting, and where these are commonly used.
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Types of reflective paint
There are two types of reflective paint: light-reflective and heat-reflective. Light-reflective paint, through its microscopic glass spheres, reflects light back at the source. As such, it is mostly used on things that need to reflect light at night, such as road signs and even bicycles, and is a must for traffic and safety applications. Heat reflective paint is made up of a chemical formula that allows it to reflect ultraviolet and infrared rays from the sun. A roof that has been painted with heat-reflective paint will simply reflect the rays and the heat that comes with them away from the building, effectively lowering the temperature inside the building. Aside from roofs, reflective paint can also be applied to outside walls.
Light Reflective Paints
An elastomeric light-reflective paint is used on objects on the motorway and curbs that need to be visible in the dark. This paint is highly elastic and resists peeling --- important qualities of paint on objects that are exposed to the elements. This paint is usually applied on curbs, walls, fire hydrants, barriers and poles. Specialised brands of light-reflective paint appear in a brilliant fluorescent colour when illuminated by light, while others may also be applied on clothing and fabrics. Some light-reflective paint variants also dry well on a surface that has already been painted on by "normal" paint; as such, its daytime colour is derived from the base colour over which it has been applied --- perfect for house numbers and decorative mailboxes.
Heat Reflective Paints
Solar-reflective paints can be applied on various building surfaces and use infrared-reflective pigments with high thermal reflective capability, reducing the need for air-conditioning use and making buildings without air-conditioning less stuffy and more comfortable. Most variants are resistant to mildew, waterproof and durable for up to 12 years.
Some brands have also developed heat reflective roof paints that come in a full range of colours that have an individual reflective value called "Total Solar Reflection"---the higher the reflection rate, the cooler the building will be.
Though not strictly a type of reflective paint, chrome paint is applied on surfaces in order to achieve a chrome-plated or mirror-like finish. Objects coated with chrome paint are able to reflect images as in a mirror.
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