Understanding Your Asphalt Options

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If you need to use asphalt for some sort of paving, then you have a pretty big decision to make: what kind of mixing you are interested in. Each option has its pros and cons. To help you make a more informed decision, here is a brief overview of each.

Mix Types

Asphalt is made by combining aggregates (crushed rocks and similarly hard substances) and bitumen, which acts as a binding agent. There are a variety of aggregate types to choose from, but they mostly act in the same way. By increasing or decreasing different proportions, you can modify some attributes of the final product. In some cases, additions can dramatically change the mixing process and the costs involved.

Mixing Methods

To actually mix the two together, you generally need to heat up the bitumen in order to make it runnier. Here are some different methods of reducing the viscosity of the bitumen:

  • Hot Mix - In hot mix asphalt, the mixing, paving, and compaction of the asphalt is done at several hundred degrees Fahrenheit. This does limit the acceptable conditions in which the asphalt can be installed. If the environment is too cold, then it could decrease the temperature of the mixture too rapidly. Hot mix asphalt is very durable and a good choice for highly-trafficked roads or areas that will need to hold a lot of weight.
  • Warm Mix- By adding some extra substances to the asphalt before mixing, you can reduce the temperature requirements quite a bit. Therefore, warm mix asphalt is pretty similar to hot mix asphalt with the key difference that it can be laid at lower temperatures and in colder climates. Warm mix asphalt is rapidly growing in popularity because not only is it easier to lay, it is also available for use much sooner. 
  • Cold Mix - By emulsifying the asphalt before mixing, you can make the asphalt much runnier. This makes it a lot easier to pour and compact. Cold mix is generally among the cheapest of options because it doesn't require an expensive heating process. This makes it a good choice for less traveled roads or for patching up hot or warm mix asphalt that has already been laid.
  • Mastic - By adding more binding agents than usual before mixing, you can greatly reduce the porous quality of the asphalt. Most asphalt can be penetrated by water fairly easily. Additional binding agents can essentially waterproof asphalt.

For more information, contact an asphalt service like Precision Lawn & Landscaping.

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