Asphalt concrete, also known as blacktop or pavement, is a type of composite material used in everything from roads to parking lots to airport landing strips. It’s asphalt, mixed together with an aggregate, usually mineral in base. Once bound, it can be laid in a variety of layers, compacted and then used as a surface to drive and walk on. Depending on the type of asphalt concrete mixed and laid, anything from a jumbo jet to a pedestrian weight load can be handled.
The term itself, asphalt concrete, is primarily used by engineers when documenting different scenarios and building techniques. Many contractors shy away from the term, using concrete or asphalt terminology instead. In construction, concrete is often meant to refer to a composite material and aggregate mixed with a binder. Asphalt concrete is rarely denoted as “AC” for short, mostly because that can also refer to asphalt cement or asphalt content which can cause issues on construction site.
You may be asking yourself what’s the difference between concrete, asphalt and asphalt concrete. Asphalt concrete typically produces less noise when driven on than traditional asphalt or concrete products; it also is less noisy than products that create a chip seal surface. What does that mean for the average driver or pedestrian? Honestly, probably nothing. When was the last time you associated the type of road or highway with the type of concrete or asphalt used?
Depending on the type of project, one type of concrete or asphalt or combination of the two might be better than the other. Work with your contractor to determine the best type of concrete to use for the project. They can tell you exactly what you need, how much you’ll need and what it’ll cost before the project begins so you can make the best decision.
Working with your contractor is the best way to find out what concrete-based product will work the best for your project. If you think you know what will work, confirm it with a concrete professional to ensure you’re getting the best asphalt concrete product that will last long into the future.