How Asphalt Paving Works

Asphalt is flexible and resists weather conditions such as extreme heat, cold, or rain. It is also easy to repair and maintain.Asphalt Paving

Asphalt comprises aggregates (rocks, sand, and gravel) and bitumen—a sticky, black petroleum byproduct. The mixture is heated and mixed to create a durable road surface. Contact Asphalt Paving Philadelphia for professional help.

A sub-base is a layer of either crushed stone or specific angular gravel that sits underneath your paving slabs. It is one of the most important parts of a good paving job, as it distributes weight evenly and prevents pavers shifting or sinking over time. It also helps to improve drainage around the paving area, preventing water pooling and causing damage.

A properly prepared and compacted sub-base will also help to prevent frost heave, which is when the paved surface cracks, warps or subsides as a result of a build up of pressure in the soil beneath the paving slabs. Using a sub-base will also prevent weed growth and increase the lifespan of your paving.

The sub-base should be made from a material that is strong and stable enough to support the paving slabs, which means that it should be no more than 75mm thick. It should also be level and compacted to a tolerance of +/- 10mm. Ideally, it should be compacted with a vibrating plate compactor (Wacker plate) or a vibrating roller if space permits.

It is important to use a high quality sub-base, such as MOT Type 1 (or DTp1 as it is known in the UK), as this will provide an excellent foundation for your paving. This material is strong and durable, meaning that it will last for many years, making it a worthwhile investment for your home.

MOT Type 1 is an angular, crushed stone, material that has been specially designed to lock together when compacted. It is available in various thicknesses, depending on the size of your paving project. If you are unsure of what thickness to order, a professional contractor will be able to advise you.

The primary function of the sub-base is structural support, but it can also minimize intrusion of fines from the subgrade into the base course and improve drainage. It is important that the sub-base is constructed with a mix of materials that is lower in quality than the base course but higher than the subgrade soils, and that it is well compacted at the optimum moisture content to obtain the maximum strength and stiffness.


The load-bearing layer of an asphalt pavement consists of aggregate and bitumen, or “asphalt cement.” The binder ensures that the aggregate sticks together, providing strength and durability to the surface. Asphalt binders are complex hydrocarbon substances obtained from crude oil during the refining process, and their composition can vary based on the source of the crude oil and the method used to refine it. The chemistry of the asphalt binder is very important, as it must be compatible with other materials in the mix to maintain its properties over time and under extreme conditions such as temperature changes, heavy traffic, and water infiltration.

Asphalt binders are usually characterized by one or more shorthand grading systems. The most common is the Performance Graded (PG) system, developed by the Federal Highway Administration’s Strategic Highway Research Program in the early 1990s. The PG system provides a way to categorize asphalt binder based on its viscosity at various temperatures. It enables highway agencies to match the right type of binder to the specific site and expected construction conditions.

Modifiers are also added to asphalt binders to improve their performance and make them more suitable for particular construction applications. For example, a ground tire rubber (GTR) or crumb rubber, derived from recycled tires, is frequently added to an asphalt binder to increase its elasticity, which can reduce cracking and help it better resist rutting and aging. Fibers like cellulose fibers, which are often incorporated into GTR, can also enhance the asphalt binder’s tensile strength and resistance to cracking and aging.

Another class of modifier is called anti-stripping agents, which are chemicals that prevent moisture from damaging the binder-aggregate bond. These can be added to the paving mixture during mixing or placed in the surface lift as a treatment.

Some asphalt binders are known as warm mix asphalt (WMA) because they can be produced at lower temperatures than traditional hot mix asphalt (HMA). This allows the paving crew to work longer hours, and it can help save energy and money in addition to reducing air emissions and greenhouse gases.

Top Layer

Asphalt is an extremely flexible paving material that’s perfect for roads and parking lots that see a lot of traffic. It’s also durable and can withstand weather conditions like rain or snow. Additionally, asphalt is less expensive to install than other materials, and it requires less maintenance. This makes it a great choice for busy businesses and homeowners who want to save time and money.

The success of an asphalt paving project depends on the type of mix used. Different applications call for different mixtures that prioritize different qualities. For example, a highway or busiest road will need a high-performance mix that can withstand heavy vehicle loads and harsh winter weather conditions. A residential driveway, on the other hand, might require a less-durable mix that prioritizes aesthetics and cost.

An asphalt mix consists of several components, including binders, aggregates, and fillers. Bitumen, a black and highly viscous substance, acts as the binder, holding together the aggregates and other ingredients. Aggregates are made of crushed stone and sand, while fillers are granules or additives that provide strength and durability.

New technology allows producers to produce asphalt at lower temperatures, which is safer for workers and better for the environment. Warm-mix asphalt is heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly lower than the 400 to 500 degree Fahrenheit needed for hot-mix asphalt. This reduction in temperature also means that the asphalt can cool down slowly, which makes it easier to transport long distances without losing its quality.

Another recent development is cold mix asphalt, which uses bitumen emulsified in water to produce a coating that binds the aggregates. As it cures, the water evaporates and the asphalt becomes stronger. This type of mixture is not as durable as hot-mix asphalt, so it’s typically used for patching and lesser-trafficked service roads.

Porous asphalt is a popular option for playgrounds and parking lots, as it allows water to drain through the surface and back into the soil underneath. This helps reduce puddles and improves safety, while also reducing stress on sewer systems. It’s important to note that these types of pavements need to be installed on a properly prepared sub-base and regularly maintained.


Asphalt pavement is welded together using a process known as “asphalt welding.” This involves taking a propane-powered torch and heating the patch seam for about three to four linear feet along the edge of the new asphalt surface. When the surface is hot enough, a steel hand tamper or plate compactor can be used to tamp down the edges of the patched area. This will blend the new asphalt into the existing pavement and help to prevent the formation of cracks.

The asphalt used in road construction is designed to withstand the stress of traffic and environmental loads. The gradation of the base layer, stiffness of the binder course, and fatigue resistance are all essential factors. The material must also be able to absorb vibrations without losing its shape and must have good workability during application.

Different asphalt mixes are used depending on the type of usage. In general, a higher temperature asphalt mixture is preferred for heavy traffic areas as it is easier to handle. However, high temperatures can have a negative impact on the strength of the mixture.

Low-temperature asphalt mixes are often used for patching or less trafficked areas because they can be worked at lower temperatures without compromising the final result. These mixtures usually have a lower viscosity than their HMA counterparts.

Porous asphalt allows water to drain through the surface of the road, which can improve safety by eliminating puddles and reducing the risk of aquaplaning. These types of materials can also reduce the amount of dirt and debris that is blown into the atmosphere, which helps to protect our environment.

For modern asphalt paving projects, a machine called a dynamic shear rheometer can be used to measure the viscosity of the asphalt before it is applied. This is a useful tool for contractors because it can indicate how much pressure the asphalt can bear and how durable it will be. In addition, it can help to identify any problems with the asphalt before they become a serious issue.

Creating an asphalt pavement takes several steps, from demolition and removal of the old surface to preparing the sub-base to support the new pavement, adding the binding layer to make it strong, and finally installing the top layer. Each step in this process must be done correctly to ensure that the finished product will last a long time.