Asphalt is all around us. We drive on it, we walk on it, and we even live on it. It’s an essential part of our infrastructure and daily lives, and yet, most folks don’t really know much about it. We get it, you only really notice something when it’s broken, so in asphalt’s case when you hit a big pothole! Well regardless, we wanted to take a deep dive into the different types of asphalt and what makes them unique. Stick around, maybe you’ll learn something!
Types of Asphalt
Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA)
Let’s start with the most common type of asphalt, Hot Mix Asphalt or HMA for short. HMA is a combination of crushed stone, sand, and gravel mixed with liquid asphalt cement. The mixture is then heated to a high temperature to make it more pliable and easier to work with. HMA is the most commonly used type of asphalt for road construction, and it’s easy to see why. It’s strong, durable, and provides excellent traction for vehicles. However, it can be loud, and it can create a lot of dust when it’s being installed.
Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA)
Warm Mix Asphalt or WMA is a relatively new type of asphalt that’s becoming increasingly popular. It’s similar to HMA, but it’s mixed and applied at lower temperatures. The lower temperature makes it more environmentally friendly because it reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions during production. The process of making WMA involves adding a chemical or organic additive to the asphalt, which makes it easier to work with at lower temperatures, helping it all breakdown and mix together properly. WMA is an excellent alternative to HMA for paving roads and highways, and it’s especially beneficial in areas with a short paving season.
Cold Mix Asphalt (CMA)
Cold Mix Asphalt or CMA is a unique type of asphalt that’s designed to be installed at ambient temperatures. Unlike HMA and WMA, CMA doesn’t require heating, making it an ideal choice for temporary repairs and low-traffic areas. CMA is made by mixing a special blend of aggregates with emulsified asphalt. The emulsified asphalt acts as a glue to hold the aggregates together, making it a quick and easy fix for potholes, cracks, and other minor pavement damage.
Those three asphalts are all types we’ve talked about before. But what if we told you there were three more types? Buckle up, you’re in for a treat!
Now here’s one I’m not sure we’ve ever talked about! Porous Asphalt is an environmentally friendly type of HMA that’s designed to allow water to penetrate the pavement and drain into the soil below. It’s made by mixing crushed stone, sand, and gravel with a special type of asphalt that has larger voids or spaces between the grains. The larger spaces allow water to pass through the pavement, which helps to reduce runoff and control stormwater. Porous Asphalt is commonly used for parking lots, sidewalks, and other low-traffic areas.
Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA)
Stone Mastic Asphalt or SMA is a type of HMA that’s designed to be tough and durable. It’s made by mixing a high percentage of coarse aggregate with a special type of asphalt binder that’s designed to resist cracking and damage from heavy vehicles. SMA provides excellent skid resistance, making it an excellent choice for highways and other high-traffic areas. It’s also less noisy than other types of asphalt, making it a popular choice for residential areas.
Polymer-Modified Asphalt is a type of HMA that’s made by adding polymer materials to the asphalt binder. The polymer additives improve the elasticity, durability, and resistance to cracking of the asphalt. Polymer-Modified Asphalt is ideal for areas with extreme weather conditions or high traffic volumes because it provides a long-lasting and durable surface that can withstand heavy wear and tear. It’s also a popular choice for airport runways and other industrial level applications.
Those are six of the types of asphalt and their uses, three of which we talk about often (as they’re the type of paving we do!) and three that are newer, advanced, specialized types of asphalt – each serves a different purpose but it’s all asphalt!
Have an asphalt job that needs professional attention? Look no further. Here at Sunrise Asphalt, we’ve been paving the way for Tucson for over 40 years!
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