Asphalt Paving: The Ultimate Guide

Asphalt paving is not only functional and reliable but also attractive and can enhance your residential or commercial area’s overall curb appeal. It’s also a cost-effective choice that compares performance to more expensive options. To learn more, here’s the ultimate guide to asphalt paving!

Key Takeaways:

  • Asphalt paving is a reliable ground coating used for driveways and parking lots. 
  • Several vital steps are designed to prepare surfaces, strengthen foundations, and smooth pavements to create a durable, firm, and safe asphalt paving surface.
  • Asphalt paving is 100% and is suitable for water drainage.

What’s Asphalt Paving?

Asphalt paving, also referred to as blacktop, is a reliable ground coating often used for parking lots, highways, driveways, or even airport runways. It involves laying aggregate crushed rock, sand, and gravel, bound together with asphalt (a sticky substance obtained from crude oil), creating a pathway to support vehicular traffic. 

How Does Asphalt Paving Work?

Installing asphalt paving will typically follow this process:

Demolition and Removal

Asphalt paving starts with tearing down and hauling away existing surfaces- be it concrete, pavers, or plants and topsoil. If the existing surface is asphalt, it can be recycled and used in other asphalt surfaces (for instance, the sub base), which can save you money on material. 

Grading and Sloping

Proper water drainage is essential for your asphalt since water is a significant cause of damage, including cracks, potholes, and heaving. As such, the surface should be graded before laying anything down to allow water to drain away from the pavement into a grassy area. The contractor may have to re-shape the site to give it a sloping surface directing the water away. 

Prepare the Sub Base

The sub base offers a stable surface to support new pavement. It’s a frost barrier to help minimize winter damage due to freezing and thawing. And if the sub base isn’t appropriately compacted, the asphalt paving surface on top may not provide years of durability. So, using a drum roller, the base soil is compacted to reduce its volume of air and water, creating a harder and denser surface that can support traffic loads. This is also known as proof rolling, and it ensures the underlying surface is solid and ready to support new asphalt. 

Adding the Binder Layer

Once the sub base is laid and compacted, it’s time to add the binder. The binder layer is a large aggregate mixed with oil, making it very durable and strong. The binder layer can be considered the strength of any new asphalt surface. 

Install New Asphalt Paving Surface

At this step, the top layer of fresh asphalt is added to provide a clean, smooth surface. Surface asphalt is made up of small aggregate, sand, and oil. This mixture of materials creates the jet-black asphalt that, when appropriately installed, offers a smooth ride and a shiny, attractive finished surface. 

Butt Joints and Transitions

Asphalt pavement installation isn’t complete if it doesn’t connect to existing roadways, driveways, or parking lots. Hence, there should be a way to smooth the transition from the old surface to the new one. Butt joints are areas where old concrete or asphalt meets new asphalt paving. These transitional areas need special attention to ensure proper grading and water run-off. 

The Final Roll

Using a roller truck, the new asphalt pavement surface will be compacted and smoothed. This ensures no small bumps of aggregate or stones are left poking through the smooth new surface. 

Types of Asphalt Paving

Asphalt aggregates are easy to mix and customize. There are hundreds of potential mixes that can be made, but typically all these mixes fall under the following categories:

  • Porous Asphalt: Porous asphalt paving is eco-friendly and contains several tiny holes to provide a sustainable way of managing stormwater. These holes allow the water to seep beneath the pavement, where it’s cleansed naturally. Porous asphalt paving is excellent for congested areas and those that experience perennial flooding. 
  • Hot Mix Asphalt: Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) is one of the most frequently used asphalt because of its water resistance and ability to withstand hostile weather elements. HMA is a term used to describe asphalt mixtures heated and poured at high temperatures between 300 degrees and 350 degrees. It’s made of a blend of 95% rocks, sand, or gravel mixed with asphalt. And due to its tendency to cool quickly, HMA is best installed when the external air temperature is above 40 degrees. 
  • Warm Mix Asphalt: Warm mix asphalt is similar to HMA, only that the process is completed at temperatures between 200 degrees and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally, WMA is cheaper to produce than HMA since it uses fewer fossil fuels, But more binding materials are necessary to help pour and spread at lower temperatures. 
  • Cold Mix Asphalt: This is the most basic type of asphalt pavement and the easiest to manufacture. Just as the name suggests, cold mix asphalt doesn’t require heating for application. However, it’s weaker than warm or hot mix asphalt and should only be used for small-scale solutions, for example, pothole repair, as preparations are made for a permanent fix using HMA. 
  • Coarse Graded Asphalt: Typically, this type of asphalt is used as a binder or base coarse to provide support for the fine-graded dense mixes that are used for surface lifts on roads, parking lots, and driveways. 

Benefits of Asphalt Paving

Asphalt offers innumerable advantages for consumers and the environment, including:

  • It’s 100% recyclable
  • It’s durable and long-lasting
  • It’s suitable for noise reduction- materials used in asphalt paving can absorb road noise
  • It’s ideal for water drainage
  • It’s safe and cost-efficient
  • It can be completed quickly

Need Help With Asphalt Paving? Give Us a Call!

If you have any questions about asphalt pavement, our skilled professionals can answer them and make recommendations that fit your preferences, needs, and budget. With decades of asphalt paving experience, from highways to driveways, we’re your local source for all your asphalt paving needs! Call us today!


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