Is there a difference between asphalt and blacktop?

difference between asphalt and blacktop

Here at Capital Paving and Sealcoating we strive to help our clients with all their paving projects. But we also take pride in educating our clients so you, as well as others, can make informed decisions about what is best for your property. Today we are going to answer one of our most asked questions, “Is there a difference between asphalt and blacktop?”

The terms asphalt and blacktop are often used synonymously in the United States. They are quite similar but there are a few differences between them.

What is Asphalt

Asphalt is the most common form of paving concrete that we see daily as we travel on major highways and interstates, as well as, commercial parking lots. The materials that make it up are mineral aggregate, sand, and asphalt binder. Asphalt binder is a type of petroleum that is sticky, tacky, black, and semi-solid that holds everything together.

Once a roadbed has been created asphalt is premixed within a machine then poured into the waiting area. After it has been poured it is then compacted using a heavy piece of machinery called a steamroller. This creates a smooth, durable and quiet surface for vehicles of most types to travel on.

The smooth surface of asphalt benefits both motorists and neighborhoods. The surface of asphalt reduces the wear and tear on a vehicle’s tires saving the driver money. Consequently, it also reduces noises in neighborhoods due to their smoothness as well.

Depending on weather conditions asphalt can be driven on within two days after being applied to a roadbed.

The lifespan of asphalt is typically upwards of 20 years if regular maintenance is performed. The initial investment of asphalt pays for itself over time and is the best option for most paving projects both residential and commercial.

What is Blacktop

As the name suggests black top is a rich black just like asphalt. Blacktop is a form of asphalt paving concrete.

It too is comprised of the same materials as asphalt, but the mixture is slightly different. The mixture of blacktop contains more stone in it than traditional asphalt concrete. Due to containing a higher mixture of stone it also must be heated to a higher temperature before being laid down. Blacktop must be heated to around 300 degrees.

Once it has been poured into the desired area it is left to cool and harden. As it cools the asphalt binder hardens and acts like a glue for the stones keeping them together.

Nevertheless, blacktop does not hold up as well as asphalt when it comes to constant traffic. That is why it is commonly applied to playgrounds, residential driveways, and lower-trafficked streets. It is still durable for light use but not designed for heavy use.

The higher stone mixture also affects the cost of a blacktop application making it less than asphalt. If you are planning to pave your driveway or other private road blacktop is an excellent economical solution for residential property owners.

Additional Benefits of Asphalt and Blacktop

Taking the step to pave any road or drive is a benefit. It adds value to your property while also cutting down dust.

Unpaved roads can create a lot of issues from dust to turning into slick mud-rutted rivers during the seasons of heavy precipitation. Paving allows for the water to travel into pre-determined areas away from your road or drive.

In the winter months having either asphalt or blacktop is also an added benefit. The fact that both have a deep rich black color to them means they can quickly soak up the sun’s rays. Thus, heating up quickly and helping snow and ice to melt for safer travel.

The smoother surfaces of both also allow for quieter travel. This eliminates much of the noise vehicles create as they move.

Although, asphalt and blacktop tend to be called the same thing in the states there are subtle differences in them. However, choosing to pave with either will benefit both residential or commercial clients alike. Capital Paving and Sealcoating are professional quality paving contractors located in Anne Arundel County, MD. We are happy to assist you in all your paving needs, contact us here for an estimate today!

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