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How Asphalt Paving Is Made

Asphalt is a durable, cost-effective material that’s suitable for most roads and parking lots. It also possesses the flexibility to adapt to changing weather conditions.

Asphalt Paving

Its dark color absorbs and holds the sun’s heat, which can cause it to be up to 10 degrees hotter than concrete. Energy-efficient technologies optimize production processes to reduce energy consumption and waste.

Asphalt is a semi-solid form of petroleum that is used for road construction. It is created and mixed at special asphalt processing plants. The plant operators identify and measure ingredients based on the project they are working on and the climate where the job is being done. Different asphalt mixtures must be created for Alaska versus Arizona, for example. During the preparation phase, it is important to ensure that the asphalt mixtures are at the correct temperature. This can be achieved by using a fast-reacting depth thermometer to take readings of the material. It is also important to visually assess the asphalt mixture before putting it into use.

Once the sub-base layer has been put down and any soft areas have been taken care of, it is time to begin building the asphalt surface. A binder is used to bind the new surface together and make it strong enough to hold traffic. The binder is usually made up of aggregate mixed with oil which makes it very durable.

Before the binder is laid down, workers will grade the existing surface. This will make sure that the slope is properly designed to keep water from pooling on the new surface. It is important to do this right the first time, as it will prevent future maintenance costs and issues.

After grading, the next step is to put down the base course. This is the load-bearing layer of the asphalt pavement. It is composed of aggregate materials with more than half being crushed stone. This layer is important because it helps to reduce rutting and maintain stability by providing adequate stiffness.

When creating the base course, it is important to remember that different asphalt mixtures need to be created for various applications – roads, airport runways, etc. Each mix needs to have a specific stiffness and fatigue resistance to be able to cope with the stresses it will be subjected to. The base course is also required to have a high degree of durability and provide good workability. This can be achieved by ensuring that there is sufficient stone-on-stone contact, as well as stiff and modified binders.


The compaction of asphalt pavement is a vital process that increases the density of the asphalt and extends the lifespan of the roadway. It involves pushing the aggregate particles together by applying high-pressure to the surface. Inadequate compaction can lead to poor performance and premature failure of the roadway. The proper level of compaction is dependent on the properties of the aggregate material. The soundness, angularity, and surface texture of the aggregate material all influence the ability of the aggregate to compact. The type of asphalt used and the sub-grade on which it is placed also contribute to the compaction.

The temperature of the asphalt when it is poured affects its workability and compactability. Hot asphalt concrete mixtures are easier to compact because they are still soft and more easily shaped and formed. Cold asphalt mixes are more difficult to compact because they become stiff and hard, and the interaction between the aggregates and the asphalt binder becomes less effective.

Asphalt compaction is done with the help of a roller, which creates a large amount of pressure on the surface to make it as dense as possible. This is why it is crucial to have the correct equipment for the job. Asphalt contractors use a variety of different machines to compact the asphalt, including gyratory compactors, Marshall compactors, and asphalt roller compactors. The type of equipment that is best for the job depends on the size and shape of the roadway, as well as the specifications and regulations of the area where it is being constructed.

During the compaction process, it is important to monitor the progress of the asphalt and to ensure that it is being compacted properly. The best way to do this is by using a nuclear density gauge, which shows how dense the asphalt is as it is being compacted. This allows the roller operator to know if additional compaction is needed.

It is also recommended that the asphalt layer be tested after it has been compacted to verify that it is meeting the specifications and industry standards for thickness and compaction. This can be done with a core sample and laboratory analysis.


Asphalt pavements are built to withstand a lot of shear and fatigue. This is why it’s important that the base course can withstand the highest shear stresses. It can do so by combining qualities of stability and durability. The stability is achieved through adequate stone-on-stone contact and stiffness. The durability is accomplished through proper aggregate gradation and the use of stiff binders.

Several different asphalt concrete mix designs are used to accommodate specific applications. Some of these include specialized mixes designed for high stress locations like intersections or bridge deck overlays. These mixes also have different binders to meet various requirements such as temperature or water content.

Topping is a type of concrete overlay that can be placed 4-6 inches over existing asphalt surfaces. This can be used to add strength to the surface of your road, driveway or parking lot. It can also be used to repair cracks or joints in the asphalt. It can be a cost-effective way to improve your road or driveway.

While whitetopping can be effective in certain situations, it can also create problems. For example, the underlying pavement may crack if the asphalt layer is too thin or is not properly cured. It can also debond from the underlying concrete if the paving process is too fast. For this reason, it’s best to consult the asphalt contractor before you decide to use this technique.

Another problem that can occur with whitetopping is hairline cracks in the surface of the mat. This can happen if the paving speed is too high or the asphalt mix contains modified binders. According to Humphrey, there are a few things that can be done to prevent this from happening. For example, he recommends reducing the paving speed to 60 feet per minute or less. He also suggests lowering the frequency of the screed vibration.

The paving cost for an asphalt project can vary greatly depending on the amount of material needed, mix design, and other factors. However, most contractors will provide a standard quote that will take into account the number of square feet needed to cover your roadway or driveway. In addition to this, the contractor will consider additional labor costs such as preparing the job site, laying the new asphalt, and removing any unwanted debris from the site. Other factors that impact the price of asphalt include the size of rock, volume ordered, and delivery costs. The contractor will also factor in the cost of risk management to protect workers from potential on-site accidents.


Asphalt is one of the most common pavement materials we see on our streets and in parking lots. However, many people do not understand the ingredients or how asphalt is made. This may lead to misunderstandings about asphalt maintenance, which can include seal coating, crack sealing and pothole repair. Performing preventative maintenance can help your asphalt last longer, resulting in a greater return on your investment.

The first step to keeping your paved asphalt surfaces in great condition is to have them regularly sealed. This will add a layer of protection, much like protecting your car with an oil change or your skin with sunscreen. The type of sealant used will depend on your climate. Some types of sealers are made to resist salt, while others are made to protect against UV damage from the sun.

If your paved surface is in good shape, a high-quality asphalt emulsion sealer will provide an effective buffer against traffic, water, and staining agents. The best time to apply a seal coat is when the weather is clear and dry. This will minimize the amount of moisture that is trapped under the sealer, which can cause sagging and flaking of the asphalt surface.

Before you choose to hire a contractor for your asphalt seal coat application, it is important that you know what to look for. Some paving contractors make the mistake of using low quality or non-professional equipment to perform their services, leading to poor results. This can include failure to use a mixer or stir stick, which can create inconsistent mixtures of water and solids. It is also important to choose a contractor with experience applying asphalt sealers.

Some asphalt sealers contain coal tar, which is an ingredient that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The PAHs in coal tar can break down over time, creating toxic fumes that are detrimental to the health of employees and the environment. Many states have written specifications that require the use of PAH-free asphalt sealants on public-owned driveways, parking lots and other paved surfaces.

In addition to PAHs, the climate in your area should be taken into account when choosing an asphalt sealer. In some climates, water that enters tiny cracks in the asphalt will freeze, expand and begin to widen those cracks over time. This can eat through the asphalt, causing significant and costly damage. Keeping cracks sealed can prevent this from happening by acting as a “sacrificial” coating that will not allow the water to reach the underlying sand and stones.