Asphalt is a unique material produced from a variety of natural materials. The most common type of asphalt is made from petroleum, but there are also types made from coal tar and bitumen, a product distilled from crude oil. Asphalt can come in many different forms, but the most common is blacktop, also known as hot mix asphalt.
Blacktop is made by combining aggregate (crushed stone, gravel, and sand) with asphalt binder (a petroleum product). The mixture is then placed on a roadbed or driveway and compacted to create a smooth surface.
How Is Asphalt Made?
The asphalt manufacturing process is relatively simple, but it does require some specialized equipment. First, the bitumen and aggregate are placed in a mixer where they are heated to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the materials are hot enough, they are mixed until they form a sticky black substance.
Next, the asphalt mixture is placed in an asphalt production plant and mixed with additional materials such as sand or gravel. This step helps to give the asphalt its desired consistency. Finally, the asphalt is ready and is placed in large containers called storage tanks, where it can be used as needed.
There is another type of asphalt called cold mix asphalt that, as its name suggests, doesn’t require the heating component.
Conditions for Making Asphalt
There are many different types of asphalt, but all of them require specific conditions to be produced correctly.
- Temperature — Asphalt needs to be heated to a specific temperature to become pliable enough for work. If it is too cold, the asphalt will be brittle and difficult to use.
- Time Frame — Asphalt needs to be worked on within a specific time frame, or it will begin to harden and be challenging to use.
- Weather — Asphalt needs to be worked on in dry conditions, as wet conditions can cause the asphalt to become too soft and complex for work.
- The Aggregate — Many different types of aggregate can be used in asphalt, but not all of them will work well together.
- Gradation of the Total — The sum must be a specific size to bind together correctly and create a firm surface.
- Quantity of Bitumen — Too much bitumen will make the asphalt too soft and difficult to work with, while too little bitumen will make the asphalt too complex and challenging for work.
- Mixed Design — The mix design is the recipe for the asphalt, and it needs to be followed correctly to produce a quality product.
- Compaction — Asphalt needs to be compacted perfectly to achieve the desired density.
- Curing — Asphalt needs to fix correctly to reach its full strength and durability.
- Surface Finish — The surface finish of asphalt needs to be smooth and even to create a safe and functional surface.
You can successfully produce asphalt if you meet all of these conditions. If even one of these conditions is not met, the asphalt will likely be of poor quality and may not perform as well. Asphalt is a complex material, and it is essential to understand all of the conditions necessary for its production.
Common Uses for Asphalt
Asphalt is most commonly used for paving projects, such as roads and driveways. It is also used on parking lots, playgrounds, tennis courts, airport runways, and other areas where a smooth, level surface is needed. Asphalt can be poured or laid in sheets. When it is run, it forms a solid, continuous surface. Asphalt is applied in sheets to create a discontinuous surface with joints between the sheets.
Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular types of roofing material. Asphalt shingles are fiberglass or paper saturated with asphalt and then covered with mineral granules. Asphalt shingles are durable and easy to install. They come in a variety of colors and styles to match any home.
Asphalt is also used in the production of felt and flooring tiles. They are produced when asphalt-saturated paper or fiberglass is pressed into molds and then cured, forming durable tiles with a smooth, level surface. These tiles are commonly used in commercial and industrial settings.
Asphalt insulation is another everyday use for asphalt. Asphalt can insulate buildings from heat, noise, and water damage. Asphalt insulation is also fire-resistant and helps to protect against mold and mildew growth.
One of the most significant benefits of using asphalt is that it is solid and durable. It can withstand much wear and tear, making it ideal for high-traffic areas like roads and driveways. Asphalt is also easy to repair if it does become damaged. You need to patch the site, and it will be as good as new.
Quality Asphalt Installation and Repair in the Midwest
If you decide that asphalt is the right choice for your next project, find out how McConnell & Associates can help. Since 1965, our team has been providing clients with high-quality installation, maintenance, and repair of hard surfaces like asphalt. Whether you have a new installation on the horizon, need routine maintenance, or have some issues to address, we’d like to be your trusted partner. Contact us today to learn more about our services.