What is the Difference Between Asphalt and Blacktop?

One of our frequently asked questions here at Uniform Paving & Seal Coating is, “Is there a difference between asphalt and blacktop?” Being that the terms are used interchangeably here in the United States it can be confusing, but there is a difference. Asphalt generally refers to major highways and streets, whereas, blacktop is commonly used to refer to driveways and residential roads. As a matter of fact, blacktop is a type of asphalt.

First let’s consider how asphalt is made and what materials it uses. There are two main ingredients in asphalt and they are mixed crushed stone and bitumen. Bitumen is a black, or dark, viscous material that holds the stones together and is made from petroleum distillation. You will also find bitumen used in roofing materials.

Blacktop has the same ingredients, but the mixture is different. Blacktop has a higher mixture of stone than asphalt. It also must be heated to a higher temperature, around 300 degrees, than other types.

Following being heated both blacktop and asphalt are then pre-mixed before being poured into a graded roadbed. What motorists travel on the major highways is a hot-mix asphalt and it is very durable. Blacktop is typically used for driveways, parking lots, playgrounds, and other areas that do not have as high of traffic flow as major roads. That is because the mixture of blacktop, though effective, is not as durable as what is laid on commercial highways and does not need to be due to less traffic. Nevertheless, both asphalt and blacktop have many advantages and can be customized to fit the needs of the area where it is being laid.

Asphalt creates a smooth quiet surface for vehicles to drive on. This reduces noise in neighborhoods and allows for safer travel of goods and people. It also saves daily wear and tear on the vehicles resulting in fewer repairs and out of pocket costs for vehicle owners.

The speed at which both can be laid is another factor to be grateful for as well. On average, depending on weather conditions, asphalt can be used within two days after being poured. When using concrete as a road surface it takes twice as long to dry and pour. Maintaining concrete is not easy either and the mixtures can often be off and cause flaking. However, asphalt can be maintained via regular seal coating resulting in a longer lifespan.

When it comes to the winter months asphalt makes maintenance much easier. Being that it is black compared to other surfaces it retains the heat from the sun and melts snow and ice quickly. This improves safety and saves both residential and commercial customers alike money. It really is a better alternative than concrete.

Uniform Paving & Sealcoating offers over 50 years’ experience in our industry and we are ready to assist you with our variety of services. We take pride in our work and are dependable and time conscious. Contact us today for a free estimate and let us help you in your paving investment!