“Asphalt 101” Is Asphalt All the Same? - Blog

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“Asphalt 101” Is Asphalt All the Same?

asphalt surface asphalt base asphalt surface mix

The short answer is no. There are different types of asphalt for different purposes and applications. The “mix designs” of asphalt vary from state to state. Each state department of transportation has a standardized specification for different grades of asphalt material. “Surface” asphalt mix from Ohio will be different from “surface” asphalt from Michigan. What is common is that all asphalt “mix designs” fall into three categories: base asphalt, intermediate asphalt and surface asphalt.

“Base asphalt” is typically made with larger stone and has less sand in the mix designs.  The asphalt cement (tar), that binds the material together, is used in smaller quantities.  When the “Base asphalt” is installed, the surface has a rougher finish to it and is more porous.  “Base asphalt” is typically cheaper than the other two types of material and is used for projects that require several layers of asphalt.

“Intermediate asphalt” is still made with a larger stone but more sand and asphalt cement is added to the mix design.  The finish texture is smoother than “Base asphalt” and denser. This type of asphalt is also used for projects with several layers of asphalt is required.  The cost is more than “base asphalt” but still less than “surface asphalt”.

The final type of asphalt is “surface mix”.  This is the finish layer you see on streets, parking lots, and driveways.  This type of material has smaller stone with the most sand and asphalt cement.  This mix design has the smoothest finish to the surface and looks the best.  Typically, the “surface asphalt” used in streets is the same as what is used in driveways.  This is the most expensive of the three types of material because of the added asphalt cement used.

That concludes the class today.  Test will be next week.

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