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What is Asphalt made of?

Asphalt is a common material used in the construction of roads, driveways, and parking lots. It is known for its durability and ability to withstand heavy traffic, making it a popular choice for asphalt paving projects. It holds up particularly well in fluctuating temperatures like here in Canada. But have you ever wondered what exactly asphalt is made of?

Asphalt is a mixture of various materials that are combined to create a cohesive, black substance optimal for a variety of surfaces. The main component of asphalt is aggregate, which consists of small rocks and stone. Aggregate provides the structure to asphalt to support heavy objects without warping.

In addition to aggregate, asphalt also contains bitumen. Bitumen is a thick, sticky substance that is derived from petroleum (also known as crude oil). It is used to bind the aggregate together and provide a waterproof seal.

Asphalt can also contain various feature improving additives, such as polymers and fibers. These additives can improve its performance and durability. They can help to make the asphalt more resistant to cracking, rutting, and other types of wear and tear.

Not all additives to asphalt are beneficial. In some cases cheap additives are worked in to increase the bulk to create a cheaper product. While cheaper may seem ideal for your pocketbook it is likely to result in a poorer quality product resulting in a shorter lifespan and issues like cracking earlier. For this reasons it’s always better to work with a reputable supplier to avoid add-ins.

How is Asphalt made?

Worker shovelling hot asphalt.

To create asphalt, bitumen is heated until it becomes liquid and is then mixed with aggregate and cooled to form a solid, cohesive material. Asphalt can be made in various grades and thicknesses, depending on the intended use.

Different types of asphalt

While you’ve likely not considered the difference between asphalt used for your driveway versus asphalt leveraged for roadways the two are quite different and are used for different purposes. While there are many types of asphalt, the two most familiar to your daily life are Blacktop and Asphalt.

Blacktop is a reliable, durable and repairable surface suitable for less trafficked and non-heavy duty vehicles. Otherwise, known best for its use in residential driveways. Its malleability contributes to its repairable nature helping extend the lifespan of driveways. The malleability also means that it’s not suitable for heavy machinery to sit atop.

Drumroller over fresh asphalt.

Asphalt is a tougher material, while made from the same base components has a higher bitumen content causing it to be less porous and more resilient. Asphalt is better suited for highways, runways and heavier duty surfaces. While not easily repairable like Blacktop, it makes up for in durability for its extensive use and requirement for heavier loads.

Asphalt is a versatile, durable and cost-effective solution for driveways, parking lots and roads. If you’re looking for a reputable team to deliver high-quality asphalt surfaces in the Ottawa area, reach out to our team.


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