What Exactly Is Asphalt?

August 11, 2020 Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’re preparing to install a new asphalt driveway or need to perform some maintenance on an existing asphalt surface, it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of what asphalt is and its most important properties so you can extend the life of that surface for as long as possible.

Asphalt pavement in Phoenix, AZ is known for being a highly resilient material, which is why it’s used in so many different applications. State and federal governments generally opt for asphalt because not only is it very cost effective, but it’s also quite reliable and will be able to last for 20 to 30 years without being replaced, so long as it’s properly laid down and maintained. Homeowners frequently use asphalt for driveways, and commercial entities use it for parking lots, landing strips, roadways and other similar applications.

Here’s an overview of everything you should know about asphalt pavement.


Here’s a fun fact about asphalt: approximately 80 percent of all asphalt pavement currently being used in the United States is recycled when removed. This makes it an extremely environmentally-friendly material.

It’s easy to recycle thanks to its composition. Asphalt is a combination of stone, sand, additives and liquid petroleum. The sticky black liquid asphalt is often used as a binding material in asphalt pavements. It is viscous and comes in semi-solid forms as well.

Once the pavement is fully mixed, it features 90 to 95 percent aggregate and sand, and 5 to 10 percent asphalt or bitumen. The high level of viscosity in asphalt pavement is what binds all the materials together and allows it to remain flexible as a whole entity. Of course, the cooler the surface, the less flexible it becomes, but thanks to this flexibility, asphalt is more easily able to adapt to changing weather conditions and subsurface conditions than, say, concrete. Asphalt is also highly water repellent, which helps it remain in good condition.


The asphalt creation process features several steps, the first of which is “predose.” In this phase, the aggregate parts of the asphalt get weighed with a belt weigher, allowing the materials to be weighed while in transit to the next step, drying. The drying process is performed with a rotary drum, which dries the components out at approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the aggregate gets dried out, it will be reweighed. The preheated and dried components get sifted and stored in silos, before being transferred to the mixer.

During the mixing phase, the liquid asphalt that serves as the binding agent gets stored in separate heated tanks to ensure it remains in liquid form for mixing. When the aggregate arrives in the mixer, the liquid asphalt gets added based on a specific rate of flow. The aggregate and the binder get mixed to form the asphalt paving material, which then gets stored in a heated silo to prevent it from hardening.

For more information about what asphalt is and how asphalt pavement is created in Phoenix, AZ, contact the team at Sunstar Seal Coating, Inc. today.

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