A Glossary of Asphalt Paving Terms


Your choice of asphalt paving materials for your project can have a dramatic impact on its durability. To help make sure you purchase the appropriate materials, we’ve compiled an exhaustive glossary of key asphalt paving terms. Select the best Lexington Asphalt Paving.

Delivery Tolerances: Delivery tolerances refer to permissible deviations from the exact proportions of aggregate and bituminous material produced at an asphalt plant, including variations in aggregate size and particle gradation.


Most people think of the construction industry when they envision blueprints, heavy equipment, and steel beams; what they might not immediately consider is aggregate; however, this material plays a pivotal role in modern projects. Aggregates consist of rock materials like sand gravel or crushed stone combined with a binding agent to form composite materials like asphalt and concrete pavements.

Aggregate is one of the world’s most mined materials and forms the base for roads, bridges, buildings, and other forms of infrastructure. It includes over 90% of an asphalt pavement mix and up to 80% of a concrete blend while having other uses around the home and office, from landscaping to drainage.

There is a range of aggregates, and which one will work best for any given project will depend on its needs and specifications. All aggregates should be complex and free from chemicals that could cause them to deteriorate, with a clean surface free from contaminants that make compaction difficult when mixed with cement.


Asphalt binder is a liquid mixture composed of petroleum (bitumen) and other materials designed to produce asphalt pavements. Performance-graded binders are specially engineered to address the unique challenges that real-world roads pose, such as extreme temperature variations or environmental factors.

Viscosity Grading allows engineers to select asphalt binders based on their resistance to flow at specific temperatures, helping engineers select an asphalt binder suitable for their conditions and needs.

Sub-base layers serve as load-bearing supports in asphalt pavements. To be effective, they must withstand traffic loads and shear stresses that may be applied. Choosing an effective binder for your sub-base can reduce rutting and cracking by providing both stability and durability.

RAP and WMA technologies are increasingly popular as infrastructure needs expand. Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP) and Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA) technologies require less virgin materials, cutting waste and energy consumption while meeting sustainability goals more quickly. Furthermore, bio-based biners from renewable resources like vegetable oils or waste fats have emerged as sustainable binders that reduce waste significantly.


Mix design varies based on traffic volume, climate conditions, and other considerations.

Modern asphalt paving requires using recycled materials that increase sustainability. Aggregates may include crushed rock, sand, gravel, or slag, while bitumen binder has long been the go-to binder material; more eco-friendly options are currently being researched and developed.

Once mixed, asphalt mixtures are stored in heated storage silos until being transported to job sites. Temperature control for warm-mix asphalt allows it to be mixed at lower temperatures – providing safer working conditions while using less fuel; additionally, it cools more slowly than hot-mix asphalt, making it suitable even in more relaxed environments.


Heavy rollers used during the paving process compact asphalt to eliminate air pockets and strengthen their mixture, removing air pockets that may otherwise develop and lengthening their lifespan. Proper compaction enhances durability, resistance to deformation (rutting), water penetration, and longevity of pavement structures.

Workability of Paving Mix: Workability refers to the ease and efficiency with which a paving mixture can be placed, compacted, and finished – including its degree of difficulty reaching peak density during application.

Breakdown rolling is an indispensable technique for ensuring optimal compaction of asphalt mixes. The aim is to ensure that the mix has reached or cooled below 180 F; this temperature threshold, known as its “base temperature,” controls both its rate of cooling as well as its compaction potential.

Paving mixes must have the ability to reach an acceptable density level in order to be considered suitable for use as pavement mixes, and this characteristic can be measured by comparing their actual density with their theoretical maximum density (TMD), often reported in percent Rice terms. A higher TMD indicates a denser mixture, an important property that must be determined during the mix design stage.


Asphalt has long been used as a versatile material throughout history and modern society for building roads, pavement, coatings, floor tilings, waterproofing applications, and numerous construction products. Asphalt can be found both naturally occurring or refined through modern developments and refining processes.

Asphalt contractors use cut-back asphalt for tack coats and fog seals, mastic asphalt for coatings and floor tilings, and hot-mix asphalt for projects such as roadway paving projects. The hot mix may also come in the form of an asphaltic emulsion in which fine globules of the product are suspended in water.

The process of turning rough earth into smooth roads takes careful planning and preparation. Asphalt pavements offer sustainable benefits: less oil consumption is needed to build them; noise walls aren’t needed as often; plus, they save money with reduced vehicle energy usage and maintenance costs.

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