Asphalt Paving 101: What You Need to Know

Asphalt Paving 101: What You Need to Know

You can find asphalt everywhere: airdromes, parking lots, private and public driveways, roads, and a plethora of paved surfaces. And for a good reason: asphalt pavement has a strong reputation for withstanding the test of time—especially in high-traffic areas.

Asphalt is among the best materials for most paved surfaces, thanks to its durability. In fact, asphalt pavement is the preferred road construction material by both state and federal governments. If it’s laid correctly, it can last for up to twenty years before it needs to be replaced. So, what is asphalt paving, and why is it so durable?

What is Asphalt Paving?

Any surface that’s been paved with asphalt will look better and last longer (with proper installation and materials). Even though people tend to overlook roads, parking lots, and driveways, we simply cannot overstate the importance of using high-quality asphalt for a smooth driving and walking experience.

Asphalt Paving Meaning

So what is asphalt pavement made of? Based on petroleum, asphalt is a black, sticky, and viscous liquid that can be found in natural deposits or as a pitch (which is a refined product). Asphalt is just an ingredient for the construction of roads. In this application, it’s known as asphalt concrete. But, what is asphalt concrete?

Asphalt concrete is a filler, binder, and aggregate mixture used as a sustainable paving material. Aggregates are processed mineral components like crushed rock, sand, gravel, slags, and other recyclable materials. A binder is then added so that the aggregates stick together. The most typical binding agent is bitumen. Layers of unbound and bituminous-bound materials form the foundation for asphalt pavement.

How Does Asphalt Work?

Different asphalt concrete types offer various degrees of performance in terms of how long they last, how quickly they wear out, how well they stop, and how loud they are to drive over. Generally speaking, selecting the ideal asphalt performance characteristics requires taking into account the volume of traffic in each vehicle category as well as the friction course's performance requirements.

The structural performance of asphalt concrete gradually deteriorates over time due to a number of problems, most of which can be categorized into three groups: inadequate construction, environmental factors, and heavy traffic. Often, the damage is caused by a mix of things from all three groups.

Types of Asphalt

There are several types of asphalt concrete, which are determined by how they’re mixed. Below you will find a brief explanation of three of the most common types. 

Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA)


The aggregate is dried to remove moisture before mixing, and the asphalt binder is heated to reduce viscosity. The asphalt must be paved and compacted as soon as it is sufficiently heated. In many places, paving is only permitted during the summer because, during the winter, the base cools the asphalt too quickly, preventing it from being packed to the needed density. 

Hot mix asphalt is the type of asphalt concrete that is most often used on roads with a lot of traffic, like major highways, racetracks, and airport runways. In the environmental sector, it is used as a liner for landfills, reservoirs, and fish hatchery ponds.

Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA)


This is created by mixing the asphalt binder with either zeolites, waxes, asphalt emulsions, or even water. Reduced mixing and laying temperatures mean reduced fossil fuel usage, which in turn means less pollution from carbon dioxide, aerosols, and vapors. 

Reduced temperatures enhance working conditions and the laying temperature, resulting in a faster time for the surface to be available for usage. WMA is, therefore, vital for building sites with strict time constraints. Hot-mixed asphalt with these additives might be simpler to compact, allowing for cold-weather paving or longer hauls.

Cold Mix Asphalt


In order to create this, asphalt is emulsified in water using an emulsifying agent, then combined with aggregate. The asphalt is less viscous and easier to deal with when it is emulsified, which also makes the mixture more compact. After enough water has evaporated, the emulsion will break, and the cold mix will ideally develop the characteristics of an HMA pavement. The cold mix is frequently used on less-traveled service roads and as a repairing material.

Upgrade Your Asphalt

As we’ve previously discussed, high-quality installation isn’t optional for long-lasting results. For this reason, we recommend you hire a team of experienced professionals. Asphalt Paving by GW, LLC is a company in Northeast Connecticut that serves the whole state. We are experts in installing, repairing, and replacing asphalt paving for homes and businesses.

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