Asphalt Paving Common Terms

Alligator Cracks

Also called fatigue cracking, alligator cracks occur when the supporting layers, or structure, are unable to withstand the weight load.

Asphalt Binder

Also called the base coat, it’s a blend of aggregate and hot-mix asphalt meant to be a load-bearing course in the pavement structure.

Asphalt Overlay

A new asphalt layer commonly placed on top of existing asphalt to maintain and/or repair the existing surface.

Asphalt Pavement

Also called blacktop, it’s a mixture of aggregate, petroleum asphalt, and sand additives.

Base

A material installed — generally an asphalt product or crushed rock — before the asphalt paving application. It provides the load-bearing ability of the pavement.

Base Failure

This occurs when the layer below the binder and surface fails to support structure weight and/or traffic.

Chip Seal

A process that applies a layer of hot asphalt oil on top of the pavement before covering with small crushed aggregate.

Coal-Tar

A byproduct of steel production used as an asphalt sealer.

Compaction

The action of compressing a volume of material into a smaller volume, such as compacting a base layer and sub-grade together.

Crack Sealing

The application of products designed to stop dirt, sand, water, and other substances from entering asphalt cracks.

Geotextiles

Fabric-like materials that provide subtle performance features within the asphalt, such as:

  • Base material stabilization;
  • Moisture barrier between pavement layers; and
  • Slowing reflective cracking.

Grade

The slope or degree of a rest of a paved surface to allow for liquid drainage.

Infra-Red Asphalt Repair

An asphalt surface repair that uses radiated heat to soften existing pavement. The pavement is then raked with an additional hot mix applied to the area before compaction.

Joints

Also called a seam, this area is where two different asphalt “pulls” join together in a visible area.

Patch Fabrics

Also called petromat, it’s a variety of fabrics used in overlays to:
  • Increase the surface’s tensile strength;
  • Reduce the extent and severity of reflective cracking; and
  • Increase the overlay’s waterproofing function.

Sealcoating

This process seals the asphalt surface to protect it from water penetration, oxidation, and premature wear from air, sun, and water exposure.

Subgrade

Prepared soil that provides support to the pavement structure.

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