Asphalt Vs. Blacktop: What to Choose?

Asphalt Vs. Blacktop: What to Choose?

Asphalt Vs. Blacktop: What to Choose?

Asphalt and blacktop are paving materials used to create roads, driveways, parking lots, and other projects. A proper choice between the two can greatly affect the way a project will look in the end and its durability and cost-effectiveness.

Blacktop

Blacktop is a type of asphalt with a layer of porous stone or gravel added to it before being poured onto a surface. This causes the finished product to have a rough surface with low heat absorption. It also uses less asphalt than regular asphalt would. Blacktop is excellent at resisting oil stains from vehicles as well as skid marks left by tires on wet surfaces. However, this smooth finish requires extra care when driving on it at faster speeds so that it is not marred or damaged. The material is good for parking lots and driveways because of these factors, but it is less durable than regular asphalt. In addition, blacktop can be more expensive in comparison.

Pros and cons of using blacktop

Pros: 

  • It can be added to asphalt for lower heat absorption, less cost in materials 
  • Resists oil stains and tire marks better than asphalt

Cons: 

  • Requires more care when driving at higher speeds or when there is water on the surface 
  • Not as durable overtime - costs more than regular asphalt in most cases.

Asphalt 

Asphalt is a paving material that has been the most popular choice in the United States for over 100 years. It consists of a mixture of stone chips and a binder, which may be bitumen, tar, pitch, or any other substance capable of making the mixture workable when heated to 200°F or higher. This mixture must then be processed at extremely high temperatures to fuse into one solid mass. When cooled to room temperature, this results in an incredibly strong foundation with very high heat resistance. This strength makes it ideal for any project requiring heavy use, including driveways, parking lots, roads, and playgrounds.

Asphalt is also quite flexible, allowing it to expand and contract with the surrounding materials without fracturing or breaking away from them entirely. It is more durable in comparison to blacktop because the properties that allow this flexibility also prevent cracks from forming easily or overt stress points developing so easily. Asphalt is cheaper than blacktop at both purchase and installation stages because of this flexibility. Road surfaces are often made of asphalt instead of blacktop because of their durability over time; however, large-scale projects like highways may use either depending on their design needs (safety vs. cost).

Different types of asphalt 

If you are trying to differentiate blacktop from asphalt, it's important to note that asphalt comes with different variations. The most common variations include: 

  • Warm mix asphalt (WMA) is a variation of SMA that comes with some unique properties. Warm mix can be added to existing asphalt paving surfaces, whereas a standard mix must be laid before any other type of material is poured on top if it needs to be mixed in with an existing asphalt surface.
  • "DF" or "double fine" is the same as WMA in that it can be used to add strength to existing paving surfaces, but unlike WMA, it cannot be added to existing surfaces with SMA outside of the DF layer. 
  • PW (premium work) "PW-2", which is a modified version of PW that has some unique properties This type of asphalt has an above-average weight for its volume, but it is much less dense than unsurfaced medium and coarse aggregates.

In general, asphalt comes with many variations that can suit any given set of needs. The type you need depends on the size and scope of the project in question, but it is good to know there are a fair number of options available when looking for an even more durable or cost-effective option than blacktop.

Pros and cons of using asphalt

Pros: 

  • Much cheaper than blacktop in most cases 
  • Flexible properties prevent cracks from forming easily or stress points from developing so easily 
  • Stronger over time than blacktop, which reduces the need for constant maintenance

Cons: 

  • Different types of asphalt have variations in strength; poor quality results in an inferior finished product 
  • Long-term performance depends on the quality of installation and maintenance practices 
  • Use in colder climates is discouraged due to its susceptibility to cracking when exposed to extreme cold.

Bottom line 

According to the Florida asphalt paving experts from ABC Paving, asphalt paving materials are the most popular choice in the United States for various reasons, including their affordability and durability. Blacktop is an asphalt mixture with a special addition that provides some advantages over regular asphalt but is just as susceptible to damage from poor construction. In general, blacktop should be used for smaller projects like parking lots, while asphalt can be used for larger projects like roads and highways without significant loss of strength or functionality. 

Due to these factors, asphalt is a much more popular choice for a variety of projects in comparison to the blacktop. However, it should be noted that using either paving material will have vastly different results based on the quality with which they are installed and maintained. Pouring either substance onto a weak foundation will result in an inferior finished product no matter how good the materials themselves are.

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