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Is There a Difference Between Asphalt and Blacktop?
Is There a Difference Between Asphalt and Blacktop?

Is There a Difference Between Asphalt and Blacktop?


A lot of people may think that Blacktop and Asphalt are the same things. Even in the US, the terms are used interchangeably, which makes it confusing. Indeed, they are similar in various ways. The two are made from the same ingredients; crushed stone and bitumen.

Bitumen is a dense material from petroleum distillation and works as an adhesive for the crushed stone. It is the source of the dark color in blacktop and asphalt. This dark color makes them convenient and easy to maintain during winter days as the sun heats the black surface quickly, melting the ice faster.

The mixtures are heated at different ratios and temperatures for both, and their surfaces pre-mixed before being poured. Unlike concrete, asphalt and blacktop are convenient and quickly done. They are ready for use after two days of being poured, unlike concrete, which takes about twice as long as the asphalt and blacktop to dry and pour.

Regular sealcoating makes asphalt more durable and effective. While they have their similarities, they are also distinctively different. Below are some of the differences between asphalt and blacktop;

By definition

Blacktop can be termed as a type of asphalt. Asphalt refers to the mixture of bitumen and crushed stone used for surfacing major highways and streets. It is also used for flooring, roofing, and so on. On the other hand, blacktop refers to the same mixture of bitumen and crushed stone but is used for surfacing driveways and residential roads.

The mixture

The mixture in ingredients is the most significant difference between the two. As stated above, both asphalt and blacktop are made from similar materials: bitumen and crushed stone. However, the ratios in both mixtures are different. The asphalt has a lesser crushed stone in the mixture, while the blacktop contains a more crushed stone. Due to the higher concentration of crushed stone, you may notice that the surface on the blacktop is shinier than that of asphalt.

Heating

For both asphalt and blacktop, the bitumen and crushed stone mixtures are heated above 250 degrees. However, blacktop must be heated at a higher temperature than asphalt due to its high concentration of crushed stone. Its temperature goes up to 300 degrees, 50 degrees more than asphalt. After heating, they are pre-mixed then poured into the graded roadbed.

Uses

Asphalt can be found on major roads with heavy traffic flow, while blacktop can be found on places with less traffic flow. You will most likely find asphalt on commercial roads such as highways, while blacktop is found in residential roads such as parking lots, driveways, and playgrounds. Though effective, the high crushed stone mixture is not as durable as the low crushed stone mixture used on commercial roads. It is why asphalt is more preferred to blacktop when it comes to constructing streets and highways. However, both are effective and can be customized to fit the places they are being laid.

Benefits of asphalt over blacktop

Unlike blacktop, the low mixture of crushed stone in asphalt makes it a convenient option for most people because it makes a smooth surface for vehicles. A smooth surface means safety for your goods on transit and less noise from vehicles in the neighborhood. It also prevents wear and tears on your vehicle that rough roads may cause. Of course, less wear and tear means saving some coins that you could otherwise use for repairs.

Besides, asphalt has additional (non-paving) uses, other than the ones stated above. Unlike blacktop, asphalt is very versatile and has additional features, like water resistance. As a result, asphalt can be used on numerous projects.

Because asphalt is water-resistant, you can use it on special projects, like when making in-ground pools or for damp-proofing. Besides, since asphalt is thicker than blacktop, it makes it the best soundproofing product.

Durability

According to the sealcoating contractors at ABC Paving, most asphalt paving contractors prefer blacktop over asphalt because it’s durable and easier to repair. Besides, since blacktop is used on surfaces with lightweight loads, it lasts longer than asphalt. Also, the malleability of blacktop makes it easier to maintain, unlike asphalt.

The high concentration of crushed stone means higher temperature while making it, which improves its durability. The high temperatures also make it more malleable than asphalt. Malleability means the surface is bendable, preventing cracks and potholes, and can be resealed after a harsh weather season.

Bottom Line

Both blacktop and asphalt are safe and durable paving materials, which makes them suitable for various paving projects. And, while both are durable, asphalt is robust than blacktop, while blacktop is more malleable than asphalt. Now, this similarly is what makes both asphalt and blacktop suitable for different paving projects. However, understanding the difference will make it easier for you to choose the ideal paving material for a specific project.


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