What is Asphalt Actually Made Of?

The vast majority of roads and driveways around the country are made out of the durable material known as asphalt. Whether or not you’re considering a new asphalt installation for your home or business, you might be curious to know what asphalt is actually made of. It may look more or less the same everywhere you go, but there are actually important variables and mixtures of varying quality.

So, what is it made out of?

The composition of asphalt includes three major things—gravel, sand and asphalt cement. Petroleum also occurs naturally in this material. Once the material is mixed together, it’s heated and made into a liquid. After that, it can easily be poured into the bed prepared to create a driveway or a road. Asphalt is mostly used to pave, but can also be used for shingling a roof or weather proofing various types of buildings. Asphalt is a highly recyclable material that is also durable in the presence of water. This explains why it continues to be so prevalent today — even though its first usage dates back to ancient Egypt!

Good vs. poor quality asphalt

For private driveways, experts recommend an asphalt mixture that is quite a bit finer than a mixture that would be used to pave a road. The finer the mixture, the smoother the surface. The mixture that is prepared for roads often has a many more “air voids” in it — which is not desirable for driveways. Of course, when you hire a specialist, the grade of asphalt you choose is up to you — but the finer the grade, the more it will drain water. For private residences, most asphalt installation companies will use additional tack coats to add to the durability. To maintain the quality of the driveway, you will want to apply a recommended sealant at regular intervals.

A reputable specialist

Perhaps you are on the search for someone to install a driveway outside of your home or in front of your business and want to find a great contractor to do the job for you. One quality to keep in mind during your search is good communication. If the contractor is able to communicate well about costs and processes, the whole process becomes easier and more efficient. Any asphalt professional you choose should also have an experienced work crew and modern equipment for best results and high standards of safety. Lastly, make sure that the company is not overbooked. If this is the case, they may try to squeeze you project into their schedule — and end up rushing to make the deadline. Attention to detail is important with asphalt installations, and a company that gives your project the time and attention it deserves will almost always turn out a better result.

Surrounded by asphalt

Asphalt is a common, durable, and incredible material. The value it represents can’t really be matched by any other common building material, especially when you take its recyclability into account. But it has to be installed and maintained correctly in order to get the full benefit.