Whether you are a business owner trying to find the best solution for your paving needs, or an elected official with a local municipality trying to educate themselves on asphalt roadways, it can be a confusing subject. Look no further and read on to learn about the basics of asphalt.
The term “asphalt” can be exceptionally confusing since it is often interchanged with other terms. For the common person, most people use the terms “asphalt” and “blacktop” interchangeably. In the industry (or on bids), you may see the terms “asphalt concrete” or “Bituminous concrete.” So what is what?
For starters, Asphalt is made up of a mixture of aggregates, binder, and filler. Aggregate used in an asphalt mix can be crushed rock, sand, gravel, or slag. Binder is made up of asphalt (bitumen) which binds the aggregate into a cohesive mix. In some regions you may hear bitumen used as another name for asphalt but it is an entirely different thing. Bitumen can be thought of as the active ingredient holding your asphalt roadway together. Bitumen is used in asphalt paving since it is easy to produce, reusable, non-toxic, and is an exceptionally strong binder.
Blacktop vs. Asphalt
Simply put, asphalt and blacktop are identical products. The term blacktop became popular when roads started converting from concrete to asphalt. It was common to hear that these concrete roadways were being “blacktopped.” This common fix to city roads and state highways is still common due to asphalts economic benefits paired with its performance benefits.
Today, blacktop commonly refers to residential driveways while asphalt is more commonly used when discussing commercial purposes like roads, highways, and parking lot paving. When doing you research for your next asphalt project be sure to use the two terms interchangeably.
The terms “asphalt concrete” and “bituminous concrete” are also referring to the same asphalt product but are typically only used in engineering documents which define concrete as any composite material composed of mineral aggregate adhered with a binder.
Choosing the Right Asphalt
Now that we understand what asphalt is, we need to understand why it is on so many roadways today.
Asphalt makes up over 95% of roadways in America. It is a diverse product that can be tailored for high volume roadways such as highways and can endure all seasons which is especially important in our climate being able to stand up to sweltering summer as well as frigid winters.
Aside from maintaining your asphalt, the two factors that have the biggest bearing on the longevity of your road, driveway, or parking lot is the quality of the asphalt and how it is installed.
When choosing your asphalt contractor make sure that they are using high quality asphalt. The key to longevity of your asphalt system is the correct mix of aggregate, binder, and filler being laid at the correct temperature with the correct equipment to ensure that it is on grade (to properly drain) and properly compacted.
At Eaton Asphalt we own our plants, allowing us to closely monitor our mixes and guarantee high quality asphalt is being loaded into every truck. Whether it is on a highway or a parking lot we take pride in the asphalt that rolls out of our asphalt plants to be laid across Northern Kentucky.
Just as important as the asphalt mix is making sure the asphalt is properly laid. At Eaton we have the largest fleet featuring the newest equipment in the asphalt industry. Our crews are highly skilled and led by veterans of the Northern Kentucky asphalt industry. Eaton Asphalt has the tools and the expertise to complete even the most challenging asphalt projects.
Whether you call it blacktop or asphalt, when it comes time for your next project contact the experts at Eaton Asphalt.
If you are a homeowner looking for a residential driveway, unfortunately our crews do not pave residential drives but we would be happy to refer you to several local contractors who use our asphalt on their jobs.