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Every industry develops its own terminology, and many of these terms can sound like a foreign language to those who do not work in the same industry. The paving industry is no different. The following commonly used terms can help you better understand what your paving contractor is telling you.

What Is the ADA?

The ADA is an acronym for the Americans with Disabilities Act, a set of federal regulations focused on ensuring compliance with guidelines established for the benefit of disabled individuals. The ADA covers everything from the width of doorways to the force required to open entry and exit doors. Paving contractors typically focus on the provisions of the ADA that relate to accessible parking, including the number, size, location, and markings of accessible parking spaces as well as the access aisles, curb ramps, and accessible routes.

What Are Aggregates?

Typically, aggregates are the stones, gravel, or crushed rock that make up as much as 96% of an asphalt paving mixture. The remainder of the mix is asphalt cement.

What Is Asphalt Base?

An asphalt base is an asphalt mix containing stones that are 0.75 inch or smaller; this is typically a #57 gradation. Base mixes are usually installed over a stone base with a compacted depth of two inches or more.

What Is Asphalt Binder?

The asphalt layer between the base and the driving surface is referred to as the asphalt binder layer. These layers usually contain coarse materials and are typically thicker than the surface layer. Although binder layers can be used as a first layer or temporary driving surface, most asphalt pavements require a stone base layer, one or more base layers, and a driving surface layer.

What Is the Base?

The base layers make up the foundation on which the pavement will rest. Bases are typically comprised of either an asphalt product or crushed stone. The depth of the base can vary from as little as three or four inches for a residential driveway to more than 18 inches for a parking lot or roadway. An inadequate base is the leading cause of premature pavement failure.

What Is Blacktop?

In some parts of the country, blacktop is synonymous with asphalt pavement. However, in other areas, blacktop can have other meanings, including a hot oil treatment.

What Is Chip Seal?

Chip seal refers to the application of a layer of hot asphalt oil to an existing pavement; crushed aggregate is then applied and rolled into the oil. Chip seal is not a feasible treatment for parking lots due the bleeding and tracking that often occurs during hot weather.

What Is Compaction?

Compaction is the process of compressing a material so that it occupies a smaller volume. Increasing the density also increases the material’s strength and stability. The proper compaction of the subgrade and base layers are of critical importance when constructing an asphalt pavement.

What Is Concrete?

Concrete is a building and paving material containing portland cement, gravel, water, and sand. The mixture is poured into forms and allowed to set for a specified time. The forms are then removed and the curing continues.

What Is Cracking?

Cracking is a separation or break in an asphalt layer. Cracking can be caused by the application of excessive weight on the top of the pavement, excessive heat, or the aging of the pavement.

What Is Density?

Density, which is sometimes referred to as thickness or compactness, refers to the weight of a material at a specified volume. After hot asphalt is placed, it is then mechanically compacted to achieve a certain density.

What Is Drainage?

Drainage refers to the pavement’s ability to shed water from its surface. Asphalt pavements are sloped to help facilitate the flow of surface water, but pipes, drains, or other devices may be used to expedite or channel the runoff.

What Is an Emulsion?

An emulsion is a mixture created from ingredients that normally will not mix with each other. For example, an asphalt emulsion is created by heating asphalt and mixing the resulting small globules and an emulsifying agent with water.

What Is the Fall of a Pavement?

The fall of a pavement refers to its slope. This is the precise degree that a pavement should be angled to achieve the best drainage of surface water.

What Is Fog Seal?

Fog seal is a procedure in which an extremely diluted asphalt emulsion is applied to the surface of a roadway in a fine spray. Fog seal can slow oxidation, rejuvenate the pavement’s color, and even seal some minor cracks. However, due to tracking, fog seal is not commonly applied to parking lots.

What Is Full-Depth Asphalt Pavement?

Full-depth asphalt pavement uses asphalt products to construct every layer of the pavement. Specific hot-mix asphalt grades are used to construct the surface and base layers.

What Is Grade?

The grade of a pavement normally refers to its slope or fall. The term can also refer to leveling or sloping a subgrade or base layer before paving.

What Is an Infrared Repair?

This term refers to a method of using radiated heat to soften a damaged area of asphalt pavement to make a surface repair. After softening, the pavement is usually raked, additional asphalt is worked into the mix, and the area is compacted. The method allows for a fast repair that uses little additional asphalt, and it is also commonly used when the weather is too cold for traditional repair methods. Infrared repairs are not appropriate if the area has a base failure or needs a structural repair. The method can also be used to soften pavement for texturing, street printing, and other decorative processes.

What Are Joints?

Asphalt joints, also known as seams, are the areas where two different asphalt pulls meet. Joints are often highly visible immediately after a paving project is completed.

What Is an Overlay?

An asphalt overlay is a layer of new asphalt applied over the top of an existing concrete or asphalt surface. This is also known as asphalt resurfacing.

What Is RAP?

This is shorthand for reclaimed asphalt pavement. It refers to new asphalt pavement that is created at the mixing plant by introducing recycled asphalt into a mix containing virgin asphalt. Due to economic and environmental reasons, RAP has become an increasingly popular choice. However, the performance characteristics can differ from traditional mixtures, so contracts typically specify whether RAP is permitted, encouraged, or unacceptable.

What Is Routing?

Routing is the process of using a specialized machine to enlarge cracks to create a uniform width for the insertion of a material to seal the cracks. When properly performed, routing can significantly improve the effectiveness and durability of crack sealing.

What Is a Screed?

The screed is a part of a paving machine that distributes the asphalt and compacts it. Typically, the screed’s adjustment determines the width of the asphalt mat’s profile.

What Is Sealcoating?

Asphalt sealcoating is the application of an emulsion or sealant to protect an asphalt pavement and improve its appearance. Sealcoating is typically performed on parking lots, streets with only light traffic, or pavements that are used for pedestrian traffic or recreational purposes.

What Is Slope?

Slope is the degree that a pavement is angled to ensure proper drainage of water.

What Is the Subgrade?

The subgrade is the soil underneath the pavement. The subgrade is prepared so that it provides proper support for the pavement.

What Is Tack Coat?

Tack coat is asphalt oil or emulsion that is applied to the existing pavement when installing an overlay or making repairs to ensure a strong bond between the new asphalt and the old pavement.

What Is a Transverse Crack?

A transverse crack is a break that runs perpendicular to a road’s centerline or the direction of the asphalt placement.

What Is a Transverse Joint?

In an asphalt pavement, a transverse joint is one that is perpendicular to the road’s centerline or the direction of the asphalt placement.

If You Have Questions, We Have Answers

The Surface Masters is a well-respected Marietta based paving contractor offering a wide range of pavement-related services, including asphalt sealcoating, crack sealing, paving, and repair. We also offer pavement markings and concrete work. We are known for consistently delivering high-quality work at competitive prices. If you would like for us to prepare a free quote for you, complete the online form or call 770-250-6392.

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