Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

roadway color

7 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2011
  • 6 posts
roadway color
Posted by LVGuy on Tuesday, May 07, 2019 6:25 PM

I'm trying to find a reasonably correct color to paint asphalt roadways. I know they aren't black, but rather some shade of gray. Any ideas what might look appropriate for an asphalt road in Pennsylvania coal country?

  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,469 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, May 07, 2019 7:40 PM

The "shade" of the blacktop, as it weathers and fades, will also take on a bit of the color of the aggregate used in the mix.

I have no idea what color typical road gravel is in the part of PA. your modeling.

Try a Google search for that area, and look at images, to see what the roads look like, unless you live there, than you can go look!


  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • From: Potomac Yard
  • 2,047 posts
Posted by NittanyLion on Tuesday, May 07, 2019 8:09 PM

Roads in that part of the world are rarely asphalt, but more often tar and chip. The actual chip is almost universally a medium gray and the areas of tire wear are jet black tar if they're well worn.

Two things I associate with summer is the smell of hot tar and the infinite little pings of fresh chip flying up off the road onto the car. 

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: US
  • 2,293 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Tuesday, May 07, 2019 9:48 PM

I try to avoid using materials I have to paint when modeling asphalt, as painted road surfaces tend to acquire chips and gouges that ruin the effect.

Pax 1

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

The asphalt here is dark gray tile grout (Mapei brand Pearl Gray).  It yields a reasonable aged asphalt color without paint, and it's the same color throughout so damage isn't obvious.  The finished surface take paint easily for weathering.  Other grout colors both lighter and darker can be used for different effects.

Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 571 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Tuesday, May 07, 2019 10:11 PM

I would say the best way to get a color you like is to go and take a picture of the real road you want to model. If you don’t live near the place you model then look on google earth or try to find pictures on the internet. Then test paint colors until you get a color you like always referring to the pictures of the prototype.

Mr wp8thsub’s road looks pretty good too, you may want to try his method. When it comes to road, there are an infinite number of meathods and most get a very good result.

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: California - moved to North Carolina 2018
  • 4,233 posts
Posted by DSchmitt on Wednesday, May 08, 2019 12:50 PM

Have you considered photographed textures?

Free ones are available here  

This and other sites also have textures for sale


I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • 142 posts
Posted by Eric White on Friday, May 10, 2019 4:21 PM

If you want to see right now, today, what they look like, type in a town in the Lehigh Valley into Google Maps and turn on satellite view.

Generally, somewhere between Reefer Gray and Grimy Black is going to be close.

In some spots, the stone used in the asphalt mixure is a sort of boxcar red, so the roads can get a bit of that shade to them as well. Usually secondary roads as opposed to highways.

And there should be potholes. As everyone from Pa. knows:

What's big and orange and sleeps 10?

A PennDOT truck!


  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • 4,015 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, May 10, 2019 8:28 PM

I agree with Rob.
A painted surface over time will acquire scratches and dings.  I use Arizona Rock and Mineral powders.  They have several different colors of road powders, I use their Asphalt 121-0 for my asphalt roads.  I pour the power on the prepared roadway then add Elmer’s white glue mixed to 1:8 with tap water until the powder is a muddy paste then spread it with a taping blade to form the road.
Those roads are over 20 years old and still looking good.
My Model Railroad   
Bakersfield, California
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!