How Commercial Asphalt Is Made: It’s More Interesting Than You Think

Commercial asphalt manufacturing: sounds like learning about that would be a real snoozer, doesn’t it? Yet the truth is that the process is quite interesting. Not only that, but it’s a lot more complex than you suspect. In fact, there are some quite fascinating aspects of the entire process. Here are just a few of the highlights.

It Starts with the Sand

No matter what kind of paving mix being made, from commercial asphalt for a parking lot to a mix intended for a residential driveway, the process always begins with selecting sand. From the Pine Barrens to the Shore, New Jersey has some of the nicest sand in the Northeast, so there’s always great sources of sand to choose from. Some asphalt mixes even call for manufactured sand, depending on the specific job.

Once the right type of sand is selected, the aggregate is then added into the mix. This step is crucial, as there is any number of different mixes that can be made depending on the ratio of sand to aggregate. Thankfully, these ratios are usually controlled by computers to ensure that the right mix is created for the right job.

Into the Mix

Once the aggregate is added into the sand, it is then often taken by a conveyor to a mixing drum that ensures that both types of materials are evenly distributed. This mixer also helps to dry the materials, as removing moisture is an important step in the process of creating commercial asphalt mix.

It’s also come increasingly common to add recycled asphalt into a new mix during this part of the process. This is because concrete asphalt mix with recycled materials is stronger and longer lasting as well as more environmentally friendly. Many commercial paving companies will collect used asphalt from job sites just for this very purpose.

It’s Time to Oil Up

Once the sand and aggregate have been mixed, and any recycled asphalt road surface has been fully integrated, it’s time to add the wet ingredient: oil. More specifically, it’s a petroleum-based liquid known as bitumen, and it’s seriously sticky and viscous. It’s the glue that holds the mix together, like cement in concrete, and it’s invaluable to the process. In fact, if you’re getting technical, asphalt is exactly that — a type of concrete, but one that doesn’t take days to harden and cure.

Because this oil is so sticky, the best way to coat the aggregate mix is to heat it up so that it flows more easily. Differing amounts of oil will be injected into the mix according to whether the batch in question is destined for a residential or a commercial asphalt job. Hot oil mixes with dry mix until it’s fully coated, and then the entire batch is dried and stored for later use, either into a silo or in the bed of a dump truck to be hauled to the work site.

Off to the Races

At this point, the manufacturing process is complete. The newly-coated and dried asphalt concrete mix is ready to be laid out and rolled over to create new, pristine, jet-black asphalt pavement, ready in no time at all for your customers to park on or residential visitors to enjoy. And you thought the making commercial asphalt was boring!