From Gravel to Parking Lot - How Asphalt is Made

Every time you walk across the parking lot at work, or down the driveway to get the mail, you’re passing over layers of rocks, sand, and binders that combine to make asphalt.

Discover the technical process involved in making this common material.

What is Asphalt Made Of?

To make the asphalt we use every day as we commute, park, and go about our daily routines, manufacturers combine three basic types of ingredients -- aggregates, binder, and filler.

 

  • Aggregates usually consist of processed minerals like crushed rock, sand, gravel, and other materials.
  • Binder is used to combine the aggregate to make a mixture that can be poured and will stand the test of time. This is often bitumen, a petroleum product.
  • Filler helps fill in the void of coarse aggregates and is often made from limestone.

It's important to work with a knowledgeable company that uses a quality asphalt mixture. The right asphalt pavement mix provides the strength needed to stand up to heavy traffic loads.

Going Green with Recycled Asphalt

Asphalt is one of the US's most recycled products. The paving industry has reclaimed 97 million tons of recycled asphalt pavement for future use, according to the National Asphalt Paving Association. That’s enough recycled pavement to fill the dome of the U.S. capitol 1,233 times.

When asphalt is milled, or removed, it can be collected for reuse. This ground-up old asphalt is then mixed in a recycler with water and other additives so that it can be repurposed in a new paving project.

Combining the Ingredients

There are different types of asphalt pavement you can use, depending on your project and needs. Two of the most common options are hot mix and cold mix asphalt.

Hot Mix: Hot mix asphalt is often used for construction projects, roads, and other heavily-trafficked areas. Hot mix is solid at room temperature, and liquid when heated. The ingredients are heated to roughly 300 degrees Fahrenheit and then mixed in a rotating drum mixer; paving and compaction is done while the mix is still hot.

Hot mix asphalt is a durable, efficient solution, especially for heavily-trafficked areas. Because using the right technique and equipment is so important for a quality hot mix paving job, make sure you’re working with a knowledgeable company.

Cold Mix: Cold mix asphalt, on the other hand, can be good for patching potholes and cracks. Cold asphalt is made in a way that makes it possible to work with at cooler temperatures, unlike hot mix. However, cold mix often doesn’t stand up to wear and tear as well, so it is best used as a temporary filler for cracks and other flaws.

Making asphalt is a technical process, but one that is important to get right -- the wrong mixture can weaken your pavement, resulting in bigger headaches in the long run. The best way to ensure your asphalt paving project goes off without a hitch is to work with professionals. Get a quote from the team at JV Lucas.