Why is asphalt used for the majority of roads and highway projects in America? It’s simple. Asphalt is one of the easiest construction material to create, lay and set. Whether you need a small walkway, a driveway or a highway, asphalt can do it all and do it well. While asphalt does need routine maintenance and repair, asphalt can take the punishment of cars and other vehicles driving over it constantly throughout the day.
Asphalt is primarily used as asphalt concrete. Asphalt concrete is the technical term for the roads and highways you drive on everyday. It makes up more than 85 percent of the asphalt utilized in the US. Asphalt concrete is typically made up of aggregates and bitumen, usually at a 95 to 5 percent ratio. There are more than 4,000 asphalt concrete plants alone throughout America, making it one of the most used and produced building material in the country. Asphalt is used for more than just roads, but it’s primary use has been the same for decades.
One thing about asphalt concrete many consumers or drivers might not know is that it’s the most recycled material in America. Most asphalt concrete is made out of reused materials from older asphalt projects, along with reclaimed asphalt when a road is broken up. Once the material is reheated, remixed and reset, it’s as good as new and can be used in roads, highways and driveways anywhere. More than 99 percent of highway asphalt removed from a road is reused somewhere in the continental United States.
Asphalt is part of everyone’s daily life whether they realize it or not. Most people walk, drive or ride to and fro without thinking about what makes that possible under their feet. Without asphalt, life could be much rougher getting from here and there, and thanks to asphalt concrete, we can get to places without a bumpy ride. The next time you drive, take a moment to appreciate asphalt, because without it, your commute would be much more interesting and rocky.
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.
More About Asphalt Concrete
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.