Asphalt vs. Other Materials, when is Asphalt the best material to use?
There are various different materials that can be used for paving roads, car parks and other high traffic areas. Asphalt vs. Other Materials, how do they differ, and which materials are best?
Asphalt vs. Bitumen
Bitumen is actually in ingredient of Asphalt, with Bitumen acting as the liquid glue that holds the mix together.
Asphalt is produced in a factory, heating and mixes an aggregate of gravel and sand together with the bitumen to create what people know as hot mix asphalt. The gravel and sand comes in different grades depending on the application. For a residential driveway or public pavement that will only have light foot or vehicle traffic you'd want a finer aggregate for a smooth, sleek finish. Whereas for an industrial yard you'd want a large aggregate that can better handle heavy use, with the larger diameter gravel less likely to dent. The bitumen itself also comes in different grades, from hard and brittle, through to soft and fluid. Again, a professional consultant will know the correct mix for the job. Simply giving you the cheapest mix available would certainly cost you more in the long run.
This shouldn't be confused with a bitumen sealed road, whereby a few coats of bitumen are sprayed onto an existing road surface to maintain and prolong its life. Whilst that existing road may be an asphalt road, a Bitumen sealed road forms part of a maintenance procedure.
Asphalt vs. Concrete
Asphalt is typically cheaper than concrete. It's also true that Asphalt requires more maintenance than concrete. However, that maintenance is typically a quick re-seal which can be a DIY job for a residential driveway, or a fairly straightforward spray job with some machinery for larger areas.
Concrete on the other hand are very hard to repair, and impossible to resurface. As asphalt forms a flexible surface, it's much less prone to cracking. Plus, Asphalt can be readily repaired. So whilst concrete can last 50 years or more, we often see sub-standard foundations leading to cracks in concrete paving, and it's much more prone to staining so concrete can quickly develop a dilapidated appearance early in its lifetime.
The rigidity of concrete also makes us susceptible to cracking through extremes in temperate causing expansion and compression, and whilst it may not impair the structure road salt can actually erode the finished surface over time.
Asphalt vs. Tarmac
Asphalt and Tarmac are similar products, in that they're both typically formed from a hot mix of aggregate with a liquid adhesive. The key difference is the liquid adhesive:
In Asphalt the liquid adhesive is bitumen
In Tarmac the liquid adhesive is tar
These ingredients create quite different properties between the 2 finished paving materials. The aggregates used are also slightly different, so whilst you can get Bitmac, which is a form of Tarmac where the tar is replaced with Bitumen, technically that is a different product to Asphalt.
The benefits of Asphalt vs. Tarmac
Tarmac is more prone to damage from diesel and petrol spills.
Asphalt needs less maintenance than Tarmac over it's lifetime
Asphalt is reusable, whereas Tarmac is not
Asphalt is less prone to weather damage
The downside is that Asphalt is more expensive than Tarmac, especially for small areas.