4 Different Types of Paving Asphalt

29 November 2016
 Categories: , Blog


In most people's minds, asphalt is asphalt: there is only one kind. Yet the world of asphalt paving is actually much more diverse than you might realize. If you would like to learn more about the available options for paving a road, driveway, or parking lot, read on. This article will discuss three distinct varieties of asphalt and the particular benefits of each one.

Basic Asphalt

The standard type of asphalt available today is known more formally as asphalt cement. This paving material has two main ingredients: asphalt and crushed stone aggregate. A particular asphalt can be distinguished by the size of the aggregate particles used in it. Dense graded asphalt employs an even range of aggregate sizes. Asphalt that does not include medium sized aggregate is known as stone matrix asphalt; the stiffer nature of this asphalt makes it a better choice for roadways that will be regularly exposed to the weight of trucks and other heavy vehicles.

Emulsified Asphalt

Emulsified asphalt basically amounts to diluted asphalt cement. The more fluid nature of emulsified asphalt allows it to be easily poured, even when temperatures are far below freezing. This makes it an ideal choice for wintertime roadway installation. In that case, regular asphalt cement would simply be too viscous to pour or spread properly.

Emulsified asphalt is thinned with water. To make a consistent suspension, however, an emulsifying agent must also be added. This emulsifier, which basically amounts to a sort of soap, allows the water to mix with the oily asphalt. After the emulsified asphalt has been applied, the water will gradually evaporate out of it, leaving behind only the asphalt and aggregate.

Cutback Asphalt

Cutback refers to a mixture of asphalt cement and some type of petroleum solvent. The goal here, much as with emulsified asphalt, is to produce a thinner, more workable asphalt. The benefit of cutback is that, unlike water, which may take up to several days to fully evaporate out of the emulsion, the petroleum solvents used in cutback will evaporate very quickly. This allows asphalt installation to be completed more quickly.

Foamed Asphalt

Foamed asphalt is created through the combination of hot asphalt and cold water. As small portions of water are added to the asphalt, the intense temperature difference causes steam to form. This steam then becomes trapped in the asphalt, forming a network of tiny bubbles. This increases the volume of the asphalt, and makes it more effective as a base layer when applied directly on top of soil. Thus foamed asphalt is generally employed as a stabilizing agent, preparing the way for additional layers of asphalt.

If you have questions about which type of asphalt is ideal for your property, contact companies like Northern Asphalt LLC.