What is Asphalt Made Of?

Blog Home | by on May 3, 2022 in News

What is Asphalt?

To better understand what asphalt is made of, it helps to know the basics of what asphalt actually is. Allow us to get technical for a minute. In the simplest terms, asphalt is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. Seventy percent of all asphalt is used by paving contractors for road construction, which is our main service! Because asphalt properties change with temperature, which means that there is a specific range where what we traditionally call “pavement” is usable. If the temperature is too low or too high, the required density for workable asphalt cannot be achieved.

How is it Made?

Knowing how asphalt is made is key in understanding how to use it, and how to become an expert asphalt paver. Asphalt is classified as a sustainable paving solution made up of a mixture of filler, aggregates, and binder. Aggregates consist of processed mineral materials that include crushed rock, sand, gravel, slags, and other various recycled materials. Binder is used in uniting the aggregates so that a cohesive mixture can be formed. When asphalt is used to make asphalt pavement, there are multiple layers that include unbound and bituminous-bound materials that act as a base for the asphalt concrete that is poured on top. This produces what you would typically think of when referring to pavement.

Types of Asphalt

There are different types of asphalt for different uses. Factors like climate and the type of paving being done help determine the best asphalt for every situation. The three main types of asphalt are: Hot Asphalt, MC Cold Mix, and UPM. We have years of experience using all different types of asphalt around the Columbus area.

Hot Asphalt

This is the pavement you most commonly see at construction sites or commercial paving sites. This type of asphalt is, as its name suggests, worked with when the temperature is very high, and also immediately after it is made. This is the most permanent asphalt of the three, which is why it is so commonly used for commercial paving. The cooler hot asphalt gets, the harder it is to work with because it eventually becomes hard as a rock.

MC Cold Mix

This type of asphalt should only be used for temporary solutions, as it cannot withstand high-traffic areas. It is used at colder temperatures and is slow to cure.


UPM is similar to MC Cold Mix in that it is used at lower temperatures, but UPM is considered a more permanent solution compared to MC Cold Mix. It can withstand any weather conditions and is a great solution to wet or dry holes making it perfect for any climate. UPM is ready for traffic immediately after it has been compacted.

Does Asphalt Quality Matter?

The quality of asphalt used is directly tied to how long your pavement lasts and what type of traffic it can withstand. We are constantly on the lookout for new technology and methods so that we can better serve the Columbus area with great paving services. Not only does quality make pavement last longer, but it is also safer and more efficient.

The main factor that impacts quality is the aggregate materials being used. Quality management practices ensure that the right materials are being collected and processed from beginning to end. Durable and angular aggregates help to mitigate early wear and tear. The quality of these aggregates is always tested under rigorous conditions and held to the highest possible standards in the industry. This means the best asphalt for your paving needs.

The Future of Asphalt Paving

We are at the forefront of new asphalt production and recycling methods. Whether it’s increasing economic or environmental needs, technology will help us move forward with recycling old asphalt pavement.

Asphalt Production

The use of alternative raw material sources for asphalt may “pave” the way for the future (pun intended). Not only will new materials be better for the environment, but they will last longer as well. Asphalt crack sealers that are polymer-modified, for example, are gaining popularity, as well as many other asphalt modifiers. These modifiers will help to control pavement rutting, cracking, water damage, and asphalt oxidation. In addition to lasting longer, the future of “smart asphalt” may also help drivers stay safe. With the advent of friction modifiers, asphalt will be able to change to accommodate low or high moisture levels. This would make the pavement safe for many different road conditions, not just dry.

Asphalt Recycling

Recently, there has been testing done with microwaves to completely break down pavement. Microwaves use heat to crush the rocks faster than the cement around it, which results in heat from the crushed rocks warming the pavement instead of burning it. When it is broken down properly, pavement is much more easily recyclable and consequently, better for the environment.

Tolliver & Curl Asphalt Paving

From constructing new parking lots to installing asphalt, our custom asphalt paving solutions are always designed with your goals in mind. When it comes to new asphalt construction, our experts will prepare and grade the site, install a foundation of stone to ensure proper drainage, and then finish with a layer of asphalt, which is rolled to form a smooth and attractive surface. The final task includes adding the parking stall stripes and other markings. Similarly, the construction of a new parking lot requires careful examination of the engineering specifications—as well as the site—to determine project materials and scope.

Are you ready to experience the Tolliver & Curl difference? Contact us today to learn more about our asphalt paving techniques and discover the benefits of using a high-quality paving contractor.

This article was published on: 05/3/22 10:48 AM |