The Pros And Cons Of Paving With Asphalt

By Herbert Sanchez

Asphalt paving refers to the laying out of asphalt concrete in thin, smooth layers on the Portland concrete of old roadways, driveways, and airport fields. The process of asphalt paving is for the purpose of correcting, improving, and/or protecting damaged or worn concrete surfaces, much like applying a band-aid to a sore.

Asphalt paving uses asphalt concrete, which is essentially the mixture of asphalt with a binder (or adhesive) and mineral aggregates to ensure solidity and strength. Asphalt concrete can be prepared in a number of different ways:

Hot Mix Asphalt Concrete (HMAC): Asphalt is heated to reduce stickiness and moisture in the mineral aggregates.

** Think: coagulating blood through heat to seal the wound.

Warm Mix Asphalt Concrete (WMA or WAM): Zeolites, waxes, or asphalt emulsions are added to allow lower laying that results in less fossil-fuel consumption.

** Think: applying sunscreen lotion to keep out the bad elements.


Cold Mix Asphalt Concrete: emulsifying water and soap into the asphalt concrete. This reduces stickiness and makes the material easier to manipulate and compact.

** Think: adding cool water to clay to easily mold works of art.

Cut-back Asphalt Concrete: binder is dissolved in kerosene or other forms of lighter petroleum. This reduces stickiness and makes the material easier to manipulate and compact.

** Think: pouring water into paint to make it more easily spreadable.

Asphalt paving, just like anything else, has its good points and its bad points, depending on how and where its used.

Pros of Asphalt Paving:

No cracking in winter

Easy snow removal

Coloring and pattern-stamping, which is harder with concrete

Can be re-laid, whereas concrete cannot

Less expensive than concrete, which explains why asphalt concrete is usually used as the great fixer-upper.

Cons of Asphalt Paving:

The main concern with asphalt paving is that it requires constant resealing for long-lasting effectiveness, so maintenance is strongly advised and expected.

In the end, asphalt paving is more economical and provides wider flexibility in use than concrete. This resolution to surface wear-and-tear provides greater allowances and is therefore preferable in the long-run.

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