Industry Terms

Asphalt

Asphalt is a naturally occurring product in use for centuries. In the early 1900's the refined petroleum product we use today became available. The term asphalt is often applied to products ranging from H.M.A.C. to asphalt cements and oils.

Asphalt Cement

A dark brown to black cementitious material in which the predominate ingredients are bitumen, which occur in nature or are obtained in petroleum processing. In varying proportions, asphalt is an ingredient of most crude petroleum.

Base

Generic term for material installed prior to asphalt paving. May be a crushed stone product or asphalt product (see full-depth asphalt pavements). The base material provides the load bearing characteristics of the finished pavement and may vary from 3-4" for a residential driveway to 18" or more for parking areas or roadways. The correct type and amount of base material must be determined and specified prior to paving. Lack of adequate base material is a primary cause of pavement failures.

Blacktop

Common "slang" term for asphalt. However this term should not be used in requesting any specifications or work as the term is widely used with various meanings in different areas. For example sometimes "blacktop" is used to refer to a penetration pavement or hot oil treatment (see fog seal).

Course, Asphalt Base

A course foundation consists of mineral aggregate, bound together with asphalt material.

Course, Asphalt Surface

The top course of an asphalt pavement, sometimes called asphalt-wearing course.

Crack filler

A material that is placed in a pavement crack or joint to fill but not necessarily seal the void created by the crack or joint

Crack sealant

A material that has adhesive and cohesive properties to seal cracks, joints or other narrow openings (less than 1 1/2" wide) in pavements, against the entrance or passage of water or other debris

Emulsion

Mechanically produced combination of ingredients, which do not normally mix. For example, asphalt emulsions are made by a procedure, which mechanically mills the warm asphalt into minute globules, dispersing them in water, and adds a small amount of an emulsifying agent.

Full-Depth Asphalt Pavement

The process of constructing an asphalt pavement structure using asphalt products for all components. The base material and surface courses are all made up of appropriately specified grades of hot-mix asphalt in contrast to conventional paving using crushed stone materials etc. There are numerous benefits to this method of construction. The Asphalt Institute has excellent detailed information about this process.

H.M.A.C. Hot Mix Asphalt Concrete

Abbreviation of the proper name for what is commonly referred to as "asphalt", "hot-mix", "blacktop" etc. This term should always be used in specifying asphalt pavement work to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation of the material desired. H.M.A.C. is produced in many different grades from coarse base mixes to specialized mixes for surfacing and repair. In most instances the grades are specified according to state department of transportation guidelines.

Laydown

The portion of the asphalt paving process where the hot asphalt is actually placed or "laid down" by the paving machine.

Mat, Asphalt

A term used to describe the fresh asphalt surface behind the paving machine. Most commonly used to refer to the asphalt during the laydown and compaction phase of construction.

Paving Machine (paver)

The piece of equipment used to place the asphalt or concrete materials in their finished position. In asphalt construction these machines should be the appropriate size for the project. The machine must be able to place a consistently smooth, even finish at the proper depth and provide initial compaction. In concrete construction pavers are normally only used on large commercial or highway projects. They are capable of placing the concrete at the specified depth with the appropriate reinforcing steel and providing compaction and an initial finish.

Prime Coat

A coating of asphalt oils either cutback or specialized emulsion, used to seal the sub-base and/or base material and enhance bonding to the asphalt course.

Reflective Cracking

Cracks in an asphalt overlay pavement caused by cracks in the existing pavement "reflecting" up through the overlay. Specialized techniques and materials such a multi-membrane paving fabrics help reduce this problem.

Sealcoating

A sealant (usually coal-tar emulsion or asphalt emulsion type) to preserve, protect, and beautify asphalt pavements. Generally used on low traffic streets or off-street locations. Products available range from low-end "do-it-yourself" grades sold in buckets to commercial products. Commercial products are sold in bulk in concentrated form. Water, silica sand (or other suitable aggregates) and specialized additives are then added in precise ratios (mix design) by the contractor in an agitated mixing tank. Care should be taken to choose the appropriate product, mix design, and application method for the specific project and it's location.

Slurry Seal

A sealcoating process generally used on runways, streets, and roadways. In this process the coating is manufactured by the application equipment as it is being applied. A closely specified blend of graded asphalt emulsion, additives, and aggregate slurry seal is generally classified as Type I, II, or III depending on the size of aggregate used. A large aggregate slurry seal with additional polymers may also be referred to as microsurfacing. Used infrequently on parking areas due to the potential for tracking in hot weather.

Subgrade

Subgrade is the soil foundation for the pavement structure.

Tack Coat

Asphalt oil, usually emulsion type, applied to existing pavement during repairs or overlay paving to create a bond between the old and new asphalt.