Asphalt is one of the most popular paving materials in the world.

It is made by combining aggregates, binders, and fillers to create an even driving (or walking) surface.

Asphalt is typically used in the construction of roads and other paved surfaces because it creates a smooth surface to keep drivers and pedestrians safe. But not all asphalt is created and used equally.

There are different types, applications, benefits, and costs to asphalt paving.

7 Types of Asphalt

Chances are you are walking, driving, and riding on asphalt all day long. There are seven main types of asphalt used in both residential and commercial applications.

1. Porous Asphalt – Porous asphalt has tiny holes in it that allow for proper stormwater management. Because of its natural drainage and infiltration, it is EPA’s best-practice paving.

In fact, you may enjoy business tax benefits if you use them for your next project. Porous asphalt can be used to pave parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds, and tennis courts. A porous asphalt surface will last up to 20 years when well maintained.

2. Cold Mix Asphalt – This type of asphalt is usually used for repairs and patches, not for full surface installation. It doesn’t require heating to install and is a great temporary solution. Yet it is not nearly as strong as hot mix asphalt. It cannot bear heavy loads and vehicles and is not designed for long-term use.

However, it can be used to fill a pothole in the winter or fill in small cracks to prevent them from getting worse.

3. Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) – This is the most commonly used asphalt paving material across the country. Hot mix asphalt is heated and poured at temperatures between 300 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit and is both versatile and durable for large-scale applications.

Its application ranges from pedestrian sidewalks, and multilane highways to railway beds.

4. Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA) – This is the happy medium solution right in between cold mix and hot mix asphalt. It is heated and poured at temperatures between 200 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit making it less energy-intensive and cheaper to manufacture.

Like hot mix asphalt, WMA is also versatile, safe, and durable. It is stronger than cold mix asphalt but requires more binding materials to help with pouring and spreading at a lower temperature.

5. Perpetual Asphalt – This is a three-layer paving process using different types of asphalt to produce superior strength and structural design.

The theory behind perpetual asphalt is to limit cracking to the top layer only and create a base that is highly durable and resistant to cracking.

The mid-layer provides structure and stability.

This method has been proven to last up to 50 years with little maintenance costs.

6. Quiet Mix – This is asphalt specifically designed to reduce the noise level by 7 decibels.

Quiet mix asphalt is a great option for high-traffic urban areas where noise levels are a concern. It can be expensive when compared to other asphalt options.

7. Milled Asphalt – If you are looking for something durable and economical, this might be your best option. Milled asphalt is sometimes referred to as recycled asphalt because it is made from old asphalt that is crushed to gravel size and then mixed together to be repaved.

Milled asphalt is commonly used for small applications like driveways and private roads with low traffic or as a foundation for subsequent paving.

Benefits of Using Asphalt

Asphalt is used on 94% of the 2.6 million paved roads in America, and it’s easy to see why.

This versatile, recycled, and reused material totes several additional benefits.

  • Sustainable Asphalt is America’s #1 most recyclable material. More than 100 million tons of reclaimed asphalt are reused every year. In fact, more than 90 percent of all asphalt surfaces will be reused in some way. This is an incredible resource that contributes to a better, safer, cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet.

  • Durable With proper maintenance and drainage, well-paved surfaces stand the test of time and elements for 50 years. Extensive new research has shown that properly maintained asphalt pavements can last perpetually.

  • Versatile Asphalt paving has a wide range of applications nearly anywhere. It can be used in both residential and commercial areas. It’s perfect for parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways. Asphalt works for both large projects and small applications.

  • Affordable It is also cost-effective and very affordable compared to concrete, pavers, or natural stone slabs. Due to its ability to be recycled, the initial cost and life cycle cost are low compared to other materials.

  • Fast Setting – Asphalt doesn’t require extra time to set or cure. It is ready for use in a few hours without any future consequences.

  • Curb Appeal – Asphalt is a popular choice because of its universal curb appeal. Oil leaks are less visible, drainage is improved, and you won’t have to worry about weeds or grass growing through the cracks.

  • Safety – The reason why asphalt is used on most major roads is because white and yellow lines are more visible on black asphalt paving. Additionally, the dark color melts snow and ice faster than other surfaces making asphalt one of the safest road materials.

  • Smooth – Asphalt paving provides a quiet and smooth surface and increases drivability. Because the smooth surface doesn’t cause high stress to vehicles it is quieter and easier to drive on.

Common Types of Asphalt Damage

Asphalt looks better and lasts longer than most other paving materials, but that doesn’t make it perfect.

These common types of asphalt damage are sometimes unavoidable, but always easily remedied.

  • Fatigue Cracking – This is also known as alligator cracking because it looks like a series of interconnected cracks that resemble an alligator’s skin. Fatigue cracking is usually caused by heavy loads and will degrade into potholes if left untreated.

Fatigue cracking is usually caused by heavy loads and will degrade into potholes if left untreated.

  • Potholes – Potholes are large, round holes on the asphalt surface that penetrate to the base. The most common cause of potholes is weather changes, standing water, crack expansion, and heavy traffic.

The most common cause of potholes in asphalt paving is weather changes, standing water, crack expansion, and heavy traffic.

  • Depressions – A depression is simply where some areas of the pavement are lower than others. This is usually caused during the paving process when some areas were not compacted. During the rainy seasons, depressions will hold water and cause potholes, cracks, or other problems in your pavement surface.

A depression is simply where some areas of the pavement are lower than others

  • Block Cracking – These are large cracks that divide the pavement into pieces. Typically caused by age and the breakdown of binding agents, block cracks will commonly degrade to longitudinal and transverse cracking.

Typically caused by age and the breakdown of binding agents in asphalt paving, block cracks will commonly degrade to longitudinal and transverse cracking.

  • Raveling – Over time, the asphalt aggregates will start to loosen, creating a very rough asphalt surface and loose debris. When this happens, it’s usually due to old age and lack of proper maintenance.

The lot will start to loosen, creating a very rough surface and loose debris known as raveling.

  • Stripping – Similar to raveling, stripping is also the wearing away of asphalt aggregates. But stripping begins at the lower layer of the pavement, whereas raveling begins on the surface.

Stripping begins at the lower layer of the pavement, whereas raveling begins on the surface.

Asphalt Installation Process

Most people are quick to complain about construction and take their roads and driveways for granted.

However, properly installed asphalt looks better, lasts longer, and makes for better overall drivability.

  • Surface Demolition – The first step is to prepare the area to be paved. In most cases, this means demolishing and removing any existing surface material. Any old asphalt is recycled.
  • Grading – After demolition and removal, the surface must be graded to the desired slope before anything is added to it. This is important to allow for proper water drainage to protect your new asphalt surface. Sometimes the area may need to be reshaped to help direct water away.
  • Sub-Base Preparation – The sub-base is the foundation that supports your asphalt surface. Sub-base is also a frost barrier to protect against winter damage. The sub-base is prepared by using crushed rocks or recycled asphalt and creating a thick, compact, and stable support for the new asphalt.
  • Binder Layer – After the sub-base is set, the binder layer is added. It consists of a large aggregate that is mixed with oil. It increases the strength and durability of your new asphalt surface.
  • New Asphalt Installation – Once the supporting structure is in place, new asphalt can be laid and you will begin to see a smooth and shiny surface. At this point, butt joints and transitions are installed to ensure appropriate water run-off and additional accessories where the new paving connects to existing driveways, roadways, or parking lots.
  • The Final Roll – The final roll makes your new surface smooth and compact and ready to use.

Asphalt Repair and Maintenance Techniques

To extend the longevity and maintain the performance of your pavement, you need a good management and maintenance system in place.

You can preserve now, or pay later through costly repairs.

The following are the most common asphalt surface maintenance techniques.

  • Clean Your Asphalt Regularly – Clean asphalt pavement makes a good impression while extending the life of your pavement. Cleaning your asphalt pavement improves drainage by removing debris and preventing stains and damage to your asphalt surface.
  • Timely Repairs – The most common signs of asphalt pavement failure are potholes and cracks. These are most often caused by moisture that expands and contracts beneath the surface. If not remedied quickly with patching or crack filling, these pesky problems threaten the integrity of your entire surface.
  • Sealcoating – Sealcoating should be applied every 2 to 3 years throughout the life of your asphalt pavement. Sealcoating protects the surface from everyday hazards like harsh UV rays, vehicle fluids, and water. Sealcoating also accelerates the melting of snow and ice to keep the surface from getting slick during the winter.

Sealcoating protects the surface from everyday hazards like harsh UV rays, vehicle fluids, and water.

  • Resurfacing – This involves removing and replacing only the top layer of your asphalt pavement to give your pavement a brand new look. Resurfacing is less expensive than replacing and extends the life of your pavement by up to 15 years. Before resurfacing, ensure that the base is functional.
  • Crack Filling – Crack filling prevents small cracks from becoming large potholes. It is a simple technique using hot sealant to fill existing cracks, keep water out and prevent further damage.

Crack filling prevents small cracks from becoming large potholes. It is a simple technique using hot sealant to fill existing cracks, keep water out and prevent further damage.

How Much Does It Cost to Install Asphalt Pavement?

Fresh asphalt paving costs $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot.

For perspective, the average total cost of an asphalt driveway ranges between $4,500 and $6,100.

For commercial parking lots, the cost depends on the size. The total cost can be from $10,000 for a 10-car space with 4,000 square feet to $700,000 for a 300-car space covering 100,000 square feet.

How To Hire the Right Asphalt Paving Contractor

When asphalt paving work is handled by experts, it will last longer and hold up better to the elements.

It is not a cheap project, so ensure that you get a good return on your investment by hiring the right contractor.

  • Ask Your Neighbors: Friends, family, or neighbors who have done asphalt work can offer useful recommendations or information. If you don’t know anyone nearby, ask companies for references for their past work. Talk to those people about the process and their experience.
  • Get Multiple Quotes: Don’t be in a rush or allow yourself to be put under pressure to hire a contractor. Your asphalt work is not to be taken lightly. Reach out to two or more contractors and assess their feedback, customer service, and pricing.
  • Read the Contract –  Read the terms of the contract thoroughly before you sign. If it’s difficult to understand, have someone read it for you. It’s suspicious if a contractor is crossing out sections of a contract, distracts you while reading, or attempts to make you sign a contract before you’ve had time to understand it thoroughly.

Asphalt: The Go-To Paving Solution

An asphalt driveway, road, or parking lot is a significant investment that makes a huge difference.

With routine maintenance, properly installed asphalt can last 35 years or more.

However, poor workmanship and a shabby installation may begin to deteriorate within the first two years.

Navarro Paving in Riverside California was founded on the belief that asphalt paving should always add value to the property.

We work together to provide high-quality asphalt paving services and build long-lasting client relationships.

Give us a call today!