What Is Asphalt, Anyway? A Brief Guide

From driveways to roadways and rooftops, asphalt is everywhere, and it’s been everywhere for ages. Liquid asphalt was used for waterproofing as early as the fifth century BC, and it’s even mentioned in the Bible. But even though asphalt has been in use for thousands of years, the average person knows very little about it. To make a truly informed decision when trying to decide on a driveway, you’ll want to know at least a little about the substance. So, what is asphalt anyway? Here’s a quick lesson.

Bitumen is a by-product of the refinery process used to make gasoline, kerosene, and vinyl, and although it’s scraped from the bottom of the barrel, it’s hardly useless. In fact, bitumen, or “pitch,” is a primary component of the asphalt we walk and drive on every day, and when it’s mixed with an aggregate, you’ve got asphalt. Any coarse, particulate material can work, but gravel, stones or sand are the usual choices. Typically, asphalt pavement is 5-10% bitumen and 90-95% aggregate.

Though the mixture is simple, it’s incredibly effective. The bitumen and aggregate form a super-strong adhesive bond. This is what makes asphalt durable enough to handle the pressure of cars, trucks and planes and to withstand fluctuations in the weather as well.

It’s this durability and simplicity that has made asphalt such a popular material for centuries, and that’s also why it’s a great choice for your driveway. If you’re in Atlanta, give Prime Paving Contractors a call and we’ll get your asphalt driveway started for you ASAP.