Asphalt

Using Asphalt To Patch Concrete

Over time, any asphalt paving will wear down. A combination of the water cycle (cooling and heating and expanding and contracting) and the pressure from vehicle tires will cause damage to any driveway, parking lot, or road. Weather and use will necessitate one thing: repairs. Asphalt, fortunately, can be repaired in various types of ways. From sealing cracks and plugging surface holes to full-bore repair, asphalt is easy to work with. Concrete on the other hand, is a bit tougher. Often, concrete can only be repaired by replacing entire slabs of it, meaning huge chunks of concrete must be removed and then new ones laid. This process is costly, time-consuming, and a main reason concrete is not the preferred road material. 

How it works

Fortunately, asphalt and concrete are very similar substances. That’s why they have so much overlap in their applications. Both concrete and asphalt are made primarily from aggregate. Aggregate are small rocks, pebbles and stones. They form the main body of asphalt and concrete. If you’ve looked at most concrete, and compared it to the asphalt in the road, you’ve probably noticed how much larger the aggregate in asphalt is. Concrete is composed of smaller particles in general, the size of grains of sand. Sometimes the size of the particles ranges up to a few millimeters, but usually it is under 1. Asphalt however is typically composed of a much coarser aggregate. Pieces of asphalt particulate range from under one millimeter up to under 10. In general, asphalt’s aggregate averages out to a larger size, of 1 or more millimeter in diameter each.

The other main ingredient in both asphalt and concrete is binder. Binder is a type of glue that holds everything together. In asphalt, binder is petroleum-based. It is made from refined oil, and it composes about 5% of the total body of the asphalt. In concrete, the binder is 10-15% cement, 15-20% water, and 65-75% aggregates. The cement is the substance that creates the glue –  functioning as a binder – in concrete. It is made from various different ingredients, such as lime, silica, sulfur trioxide, alkaline, iron oxide, alumina, and calcium sulfate. When water is applied, these ingredients form a tough and resilient binder that holds together concrete’s aggregate.

Due to the higher content of binder, and the smaller aggregate size, concrete has different uses from asphalt. Asphalt is often used for roads and other asphalt paving, like driveways, parking lots, and trails. Concrete can be structural, composing columns, walls, and more. 

Can asphalt be used to patch and repair concrete?

Simply put, the answer is yes. Now using asphalt patches to repair concrete isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it is very common, and easy to do. Concrete actually makes a fantastic base material for asphalt. It allows strong compaction, and, every year, miles and miles of concrete roadway are paved over with asphalt. 

Laying asphalt on concrete provides several benefits:

  • Asphalt is highly weather resistant, especially when seal coated. Asphalt seal coating is the number one choice for durable and efficient protection.
  • Asphalt is much cheaper to lay than concrete. Rather than replacing huge slabs of concrete for repairs, you can work on the new layer of asphalt for much cheaper. Asphalt is also 100% recyclable, making it an environmentally friendly choice.
  • Because asphalt is 100% recyclable, it is easier to come by than concrete. Paving contractors can tear up existing asphalt, re-pulverize it, and lay it as new asphalt. Not only that, but they can do it all on location with the right gear.
  • Asphalt is more durable. It can handle weather and temperature fluctuations much better than concrete.

Patching concrete with asphalt

When it comes to patching holes and cracks in concrete, asphalt patch kits work great. Just follow a few steps:

  • Clean up the hole to be patched. Clean up any loose gravel or rocks, or other debris that may have made their way there. You can use a brush or broom to do so. 
  • Apply the asphalt patching material. Be sure to read instructions on the patch kit first. You may need a polymer sealant applied in the hole between the two.
  • Once the patch is applied let it set. You may need to blow hot or cold air on the patch depending on the kit you are using.

Why NOT to patch concrete with asphalt

Although it makes a good surfacing substance, there are some reasons not to use asphalt in tandem with concrete.

  • The concrete under your asphalt can crack. This can make the asphalt weaker, and be a real headache to fix. Now you have to repair two layers of different material. If you aren’t sure about the concrete you will be laying your asphalt on, then don’t do it!
  • Expansion joints. Because concrete handles temperature fluctuations differently, it has something called expansion joints. These will move over time and can cause the asphalt above to develop cracks along those lines.
  • When there is already a foundation for asphalt, the base underneath is unknown. How strong is the earth below the concrete? How many years will it last before totally new paving is required? Changes in the ground below concrete can cause the asphalt to shift, heave, and crack. This lowers the lifespan and necessitates more frequent repairs.

Figuring out how to repair your concrete?

Whether your paving conundrum is concrete, asphalt, or anything else, Reliable Paving, can fix it. We have been in the paving industry for 35 years, and offer a wide range of services.

  • Asphalt seal coating
  • Asphalt paving
  • Concrete paving
  • Concrete seal coating
  • Repairs, such as crack filling and patching
  • Re-striping
  • And much more!

Send us a message today to see how we can lay new pavement, repair damaged pavement, or see what our full range of services is.

When To Use Asphalt Instead of Concrete

If you’re reading this, you are probably trying to decide whether asphalt or concrete is right for your project. We hope that after reading this article, you will be ready to make the best-informed decision about which material to use. 

In order to understand which to use, you should know what they are.

Both asphalt and concrete are composed primarily of something called aggregate. Aggregate is a mix of small rocks, stones, and particles. It makes up over 90% of asphalt and the vast majority of concrete as well. If you’ve ever walked across a blacktop parking lot or seen a large concrete structure, you’ve probably noticed that the loose sand, pebbles, and stones in concrete are much finer and smaller than those in asphalt paving. 

Asphalt binder

Asphalt uses a petroleum-based binder, which glues everything together. It also gives asphalt it’s black appearance. Despite using oil-based products, asphalt is still relatively environmentally friendly because it is so heavily recycled.

Concrete Binder

Concrete on the other hand, uses water and (most often) Portland cement. Water mixes with the cement to create the glue that holds it together. You can read in more detail about concrete composition here.

Making your choice

You paving project probably has a great number of input factors. In order to choose the right construction materials, you will need to carefully consider each one. So we will break down each factor you must consider, and then analyze which product is right in the situation and for your priorities.

 

Environmental impact

Recycling

Both asphalt and concrete are highly recyclable. This means that whichever product you choose, you will be contributing to the circular economy instead of acquiring new resources from the Earth. Asphalt however, does use a petroleum-based binder. This means that making new asphalt has a much greater negative environmental impact than making new concrete. Asphalt however, can be recycled indefinitely, and is 100% recyclable. Concrete can not be recycled as many times, and only certain parts of it can be recycled anyway. 

Longevity and location

However, the environmental impact of laying it is not based on recycling/making new materials alone. Other factors to consider include longevity and climate where it will be laid. 

  • Concrete with proper maintenance can last 40-50 years. Used in roadways, it can last 20-40 years.
  • Asphalt with proper maintenance can last 30-40 years.
  • In extremely hot environments (such as the US Southwest) asphalt can soften and is prone to damage. When it softens its integrity can be damaged, and poisonous runoff can be created.

Color

Although this may not seem important, it actually is quite. Concrete has a gray/white hue, while asphalt is famously dark, and is also called blacktop. 

Concrete’s lighter color confers several benefits:

  • Reflects heat back to the atmosphere. It contributes less to urban heat islands that asphalt creates.
  • It’s reflectivity means it requires less light at night. This saves taxpayers on paying for electricity, and decreases emissions from creating that electricity.

Upkeep

One of the biggest reasons asphalt is usually the choice for roadway paving is maintenance. Concrete may last longer, but both materials will develop holes, cracks, and deform over time. To repair concrete, entire slabs of concrete must be replaced. Asphalt, on the other hand, can be patched. Asphalt repair kits that fill cracks and potholes can be purchased at just about any hardware store. Of course, there are concrete repair kits too, but they are typically for residential sidewalks and non-structural surfacing.

Even when significant repairs are needed with asphalt, it can be resurfaced completely or to a very deep layer. These repairs are still much cheaper and less time consuming than replacing entire concrete blocks.

Roadway pros and cons

Although both materials can be used for roads, asphalt has won out in most locations. 

Concrete pros/cons

Pros

  • Long-lasting.
  • Strong.
  • Environmentally-resistant.

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide good tire grip.
  • Less absorption. Gasoline, oil, and other chemicals that spill on concrete will not soak into the same way they do with asphalt. This creates runoff problems with asphalt.
  • Expensive and time-consuming to repair entire blocks.

Asphalt pros/cons

Pros

  • Smoother drive for motorists.
  • Better traction.
  • Quieter driving than concrete.
  • Cheaper.
  • Can be repaired.

Cons

  • Requires more repair because it wears out faster.
  • Heat can damage asphalt and surrounding environs.

 

Setting

Both materials are made from a combination of aggregate and glue-like binder. These compounds need to be mixed and poured, after which, they harden. The process from which they turn from liquid to solid is called “setting.” This is a process that they share with many different composites, from fiberglass to Pyrex. Another one of asphalt’s advantages over concrete is that asphalt poured for a purpose similar to concrete will set much faster. Asphalt can go from an input material to a usable surface for roads in less time, and at lest cost than concrete. This feature is one of the many things solidifying asphalt’s use as the primary roadway material.

Making the right choice

Although concrete is by and far the world’s most-used building material, asphalt seems to win for roadways. However, the specific benefits and drawbacks of the use of each is understood best by professionals. If you are trying to figure out which is best for your construction, then you are in the right place. Reliable Paving has been in the paving contractor game for nearly four decades. We know how to get our paving projects done on-time, on-budget, and keep our standards to the absolute highest quality. If you aren’t sure whether concrete or asphalt paving is the right way to go, then let us know what you need. We will provide you with the best material possible for the job, and deliver the best service along the way.

Innovations In Asphalt Production

Asphalt production in the late 19th and early 20th century was unregulated, dirty, fast, and profitable. Firstly, there were fewer regulations in general, on any industry at the time. Second, there was a serious lack of regulations. Both in emissions and materials sourcing had few laws, so it was easier to produce asphalt. Three, the nation as a whole was less developed, so there were simply more roads to build. As the 20th century progressed the automobile became the norm. More roads were needed. With the demand for roads came driveways and parking lots. This demand was coupled with relatively low resource constraints and regulation. Thus, it created a boom in the asphalt industry. Pollution and environmental degradation went on to become a major source of health risk during the 20th century. It led to some serious environmental disasters. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire over a dozen times. Eventually, there was the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, emission level controls, and other regulations regarding pollution. These new laws were passed to control what people and corporations could put in the earth, air, and water.

Asphalt is already sustainable

The asphalt industry, fortunately, stood to benefit from requirements on efficiency and cleaner production. As of now, asphalt is surprisingly green.

  • It’s the world’s most recycled material, leading even steel and aluminum in total quantity recycled. This means that new asphalt significantly easier to produce. Also, old asphalt winds up in land fills less often. The recycling rate is over 80%. This recycling has some serious benefits including (data from 2019):
    • 2.4 million metric tons of C02e (carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gasses) spared from atmospheric release.
    • Nearly 90 million tons of reclaimed asphalt used each year. As opposed to new asphalt.
    • 94 % Of asphalt mixture reclaimed from old asphalt paving and put into new pavements.
    • 921,000 tons of recycled asphalt shingles put into new mixes.
    • 24 million barrels of virgin asphalt binder replaced by recycled binder.

These numbers are nothing to scoff at. However, new developments in asphalt manufacturing plants are making it even more efficient, and greener.

Systems and technologies that are making asphalt cheaper and better

A great improvement in efficiency comes from the machines that process recycled asphalt

New machining systems help produce larger quantities of recycled asphalt faster. Recycled asphalt pavement (RAP), is what makes up the majority of new asphalt. Amann, an industrial technology company, has a new machine, the RSS 120-M RAP, which processes large amounts of RAP more efficiently. Using a strategy that doesn’t tear apart RAP, it can produce up to 120 tons per hour when using milled cuttings of RAP. It can produce up to 80 tons per hour when processing slabs of RAP. The machine is also relatively small and lightweight compared to other recyclers. Therefore, it is easier to move to various sites. The machine’s slow rotating process shreds RAP while keeping the grain structure and coating. A magnetic separator removes iron and steel. Meshes of varying sizes can filter out the aggregate according to the producer’s requirements. Materials too big for the mesh/new asphalt can be recirculated into the machine, or used as the new asphalt’s sub-base.

All-in-one aggregate preparation systems

E-MAK’s Megaton is an all-in-one system that prepares aggregate efficiently, quickly, and is almost entirely automated. Aggregate is the small rocks and stones that make up the majority (about 95%) of the asphalt. The remaining “glue” that holds it together is the binder.

The E-MAK system uses a recyclable, environmentally-friendly, and energy saving system to produce aggregate on site. It can work for 24 hours a day. It can provide for asphalt, concrete, and other aggregate needs. The machine has 3 tons of storage and a daily production level of 10,000 tons. Furthermore, it is environmentally friendly and highly productive thanks to several main innovations.

  • It contains an internal recycling system, recycling over-sized aggregate back into the mix until it is the right size.
  • A filtering system seriously reduces dust emissions.
  • An improved sieving system optimizes aggregate flow.
  • Adjustable and modular, so it can be quickly engineered for different sizes of aggregate.

Full recycling technology mixing plants

The Marini company’s plan to keep up with ever-rising asphalt demand is a full recycling technology (FRT) mixing plant. You can read more about their recycling policies and strategies here. With a combination of a plant that can make aggregate/binder batches with 100% RAP and an advanced filtration system, they are expected to have the lowest emissions of any asphalt production facility.

Read about other company’s specific developments/inventions/innovations here.

WMA improvements

WMA is warm-mix asphalt. It is leading the way in energy reduction, because it requires less fuel. Hot-mix asphalt (HMA) is the standard, and requires substantial fuel in order to be made. WMA removes this fuel requirement.

Specific innovations in warm-mix asphalt are as follows:

  • The addition of organic and synthetic additives in the mixing process.
  • Hard-foamed and soft binder used at various stages in production.

These innovations allow the WMA production process to use less fuel. Emissions from burning are therefore lower. The additives enable the binder to be viscous at lower temperatures. This enables it to coat the aggregate with less heating, and thus less fuel usage.

Pave your way to a cleaner future

If you want a paving contractor with efficient and sustainable practices, then look no further than Reliable Paving. We have 35 years of experience paving in and around the Fort Worth area in Texas. Not only do we do new paving with asphalt and concrete, we use reycled material. In order to help you get the most out of your paving, we also re-stripe and seal coat pavement to ensure it lasts a long time. Finally, one of our specialties is ensuring ADA compliance. Our business is built on integrity. Come see why by sending us a message today. Come see why we are Texas’ most trusted paving contractor, you won’t be disappointed.

Asphalt Damage: Repair, Reseal, Replace, Or Resurface

Asphalt restoration can be a costly and time-consuming process. Knowing when to repair, resurface, or completely replace asphalt is key to saving time and money.

When your asphalt is damaged, you should do something about it. Damaged asphalt will only get worse. Once cracks, rutting, and holes appear, it’s easier for water to get in. Water is the main culprit of asphalt damage, causing destruction beneath the surface as it expands and contracts as the temperature changes. So, which solution is right for you and your blacktop? In order to help you better decide how to treat your asphalt paving, we have broken down the common ways it can be repaired, replaced, resurfaced, and resealed.

Resealing

Resealing is also known as Sealcoating. This is a very useful technique for improving your paving’s longevity. It is done by applying a thin layer or layers of asphalt to the surface of existing blacktop. These special layers, also called sealant, do exactly what they sound like. They fill existing cracks and make your asphalt more resistant to the elements. Regardless of where you live, you should have your asphalt resealed at least every 3-5 years. If you live somewhere with extreme weather conditions, including a freeze-thaw cycle, then it may be necessary to do more often.

Resurfacing

This process is a little more in-depth than resealing. During resurfacing, the top few inches of your pavement is removed. Then, a completely new layer is applied to the top. This basically creates a new top layer of your asphalt. Resurfacing can only be done if your asphalt was installed correctly to begin with though. If the substrate/foundation is off, severely damaged, or incorrectly set, resurfacing won’t work.

Repairing

Resurfacing and resealing are forms of repair, in fact, just about every method listed in this article is a type of asphalt repair. However, repairs can go deeper than the first few inches. There are numerous ways to repair, each being effective at differing depths. Some methods can be done by a single worker with hand tools. Some repair techniques involve patching individual cracks and potholes, and some even involves adding new material under the surface, like reinforcing fabric. If your repairs are more than crack/pothole filling, then you should probably get a paving contractor to do the work for you. Deep repairs require specialized tools, knowledge, and experience.

Replacing

This is the nuclear option. Asphalt replacement is simply the total removal of existing asphalt followed by laying new paving. You will definitely want to hire a paving contractor if the asphalt to be replaced is in a place of business and/or covers a wide area. There is some overlap with repair here, as your damaged asphalt may be excavated, re-pulverized, and laid with new binder as new asphalt.

When is each one right for you?

Now that you know the difference between the various types of asphalt renovation, you need to know what is right for your paving.

When to seal coat and not to seal coat

  • Seal coating should be done soon after installing new asphalt.
  • Seal coating should be repeated every 3-5 years.

Seal coating won’t help you if:

  • Seal coating should only be done on asphalt whose surface isn’t extremely damaged. Wide/deep cracks, large potholes, and an uneven surface indicate a seal coat will just cover up your existing problems without treating them.
  • If the asphalt is 15-20 years old, seal coating may not help. At that age, especially if improperly maintained, the asphalt should be replaced.

When resurfacing is right for you

Resurfacing will help if the following conditions are met:

  • The foundation/base was built right the first time. If your base was correctly installed when the asphalt was first laid, you might not have to place at all. A resurface every 5-10 years depending on use and weather conditions can be sufficient.
  • Under 30% of the asphalt needs repairs. If you look at your driveway and see that less than one third is damaged, resurfacing can probably handle your problems.
  • Cracks are shallow and narrow (less than a few inches deep, and less than one quarter of an inch wide).

When replacement or repair is the right choice

As replacement/repair are very similar, we decided to group them together. To clarify, we are talking about replacing the asphalt to a serious depth, not just the first few inches or less. Our reasoning is that a huge portion of the asphalt is removed, and then replaced with new/recycled aggregate. This could be full-depth repair or complete replacement.

  • More than 30% of the asphalt needs repair. If you can tell that over one third of your blacktop needs fixing, then it may be more efficient to simply replace it rather than fixing each pothole/crack.
  • The foundation is not good. Whether the foundation was installed incorrectly, or weather/climate changes have made it unstable, if the base is bad, it’s time to repair or replace.
  • Is the asphalt over 20 years old? If so, a replacement may be easier than dealing with all the problems on and lurking beneath its surface.
  • Cracks are over one quarter inch wide and several inches deep. When your cracks are larger, it’s a sign of trouble below. A full-depth replacement or repair will get right to the root of the issue.

Call us today to renovate your asphalt

If you aren’t sure which paving repair solution is right for you, then you can rely on us. Reliable Paving is a Texas-based paving contractor with over 35 years of experience. Our team of 200-plus can handle big jobs, small jobs, and anything in-between. Whether your asphalt needs a simple resurface or a full-depth repair, we can help. Contact us today so we can take a look and find out what’s best for you.

workers laying asphalt

Why Is Asphalt Quieter To Drive On Than Concrete?

When it comes to paving for roads and driveways, there are quite a few choices. Everything from marble to synthetics to recycled materials make for good composites that can handle pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic. However, when it comes to high-vehicle traffic areas, namely parking lots, roads, and driveways, concrete and asphalt are the main choices. 

Deciding between asphalt and concrete can be tough. Applying the right materials will result in a longer life for the paved surface, less necessary maintenance, and lower costs in the end. Ultimately, asphalt usually wins, especially for outdoor scenarios, and for lessening noise pollution. 

Road noise is one of the biggest complaints about urban and suburban living in the US. Not only do people get irritated by the sound of cars driving around constantly, but it can even lower property values. Have you ever compared the cost of housing next to a highway versus housing a few miles (or even blocks) away? You will notice that the proximity to loud traffic is a major reason people live where they do, and a major factor in home prices.

Why asphalt is superior?

Asphalt paving is almost always better. Why? Various reasons combine to make it more versatile, durable, and easier to maintain.

Asphalt can withstand climate variances more

If you live in an extremely hot, or extremely cold seasonal place, you know what kind of damage can happen to paving. Both asphalt and concrete show these signs. Rutting, cracking, potholes, and the like appear and take ages to repair…the other option is replacing the paving altogether, which is neither cheap nor fast. 

Asphalt is still better at withstanding the weather though. Different asphalt can be made to be porous, so water flows through it and doesn’t cause damage. Asphalt also absorbs heat and has less contraction in cold than concrete. When snow accumulates on a paved surface, asphalt contributes to melting faster than concrete does. In general, moisture evaporates faster from asphalt than concrete. Additionally, asphalt can be seal coated, so it can withstand the weather even more. 

Asphalt is usually cheaper

Asphalt is one of the US’s most recycled materials. Even when a road is replaced, it can simply be pulled up, re-pulverized, and laid again as new asphalt. This makes replacing and laying it in the first place much cheaper. 

Asphalt takes less time to pave

Asphalt paving simply takes less time to set and become usable than concrete. On a busy road this saves people time, money, and inconvenience. 

Asphalt is safer

Higher traction leads to better skid resistance and vehicle handling for asphalt than concrete. This makes everything safer for everyone: cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, wild animals, and anyone else on the road.

What exactly makes asphalt quieter than concrete?

In order to understand the why, we need to know a few terms.

Rigid pavement

This uses concrete to form a stiffer foundation. It has high flexural strength (think force divided by area). It is great for parking lots that are indoors. Cracks or damage often can not be repaired, and become permanent. Additionally, the hardness of it means that it can not absorb sound. You may have even heard your own car engine or breaks echoing in a concrete indoor parking lot.

Flexible pavement

This is made with bituminous – AKA asphalt – materials. The material is laid in multiple layers. As a result, it has some flexibility which can absorb the impacts of fast-moving vehicles extremely well. Its porous nature has many benefits, among them sound reduction.

Bituminous pavement is quieter because of the air bubbles inside of it. These air bubbles absorb sound by up to 3-5 decibels. Decibels are measured on an exponential scale, so this may not seem like much, but it is. For example, 40 decibels is 1/8 as loud as 70 decibels. 

Not only is flexible pavement good at lowering noise, it’s so good that it’s more effective than sound barriers. Those are the big walls you see separating residential neighborhoods from highways. 

So, what’s the takeaway?

  • Flexible pavement is made from bituminous material, AKA asphalt.
  • Asphalt is full of little holes that absorb air and sound waves, making it quieter as cars pass on it.

Developments in quiet asphalt

Quiet pavement is a relatively new development that is being studied all over the US. California and Washington have both been doing extensive research on it. These studies have pointed to asphalt’s ability to absorb sound much better than other paved surfaces, namely concrete. 

In the future, we can expect asphalt to become more flexible by being more porous. It will also use more layers, which will help with decreasing impact stress. 

Are there any advantages to concrete?

So why use concrete at all?

  • Concrete roads can last 20-40 years, 2-4 times longer than asphalt.
  • Vehicles can get 1-7% better fuel efficiency on concrete roads.
  • Lower chances of potholes forming.
  • Better suited to high volume of large vehicles, such as semi trucks.
  • Concrete can be recyclable. 
  • Production of NEW concrete roads is somewhat more environmentally friendly than new asphalt roads.

Concrete isn’t all bad, but it certainly has its limitations

  • Entire slabs need to be replaced because repairing it is so difficult.
  • Costs more and takes longer than asphalt to repair and install.
  • Bumpy rides come from differently-leveled slabs.
  • Can be more dangerous for some vehicles, because there may be space between slabs.
  • Surface does not absorb liquids, chemicals, and other things like concrete does. 

Needless to say, we can safely say it makes more sense to use asphalt as your road paving surface.

Unsure what to pave with?

If you don’t know what paving material is the best for your road, parking lot, or driveway, send us a message. We are a professional, experienced, and multifaceted group of paving contractors, who are ready to provide the best paving surfaces at the best prices. Reliable Paving can help you lay new pavement, repair the old, repaint, and even help with ADA compliance. Save yourself time and money by choosing the right paving.

How Climate Change Affects Asphalt

As the Earth’s climate continually changes, asphalt pavement reflects these changes. How does it change and what can we do about it?

Like it or not, the Earth’s climate is changing. This is hardly something new. Our planet has gone from a geologically super-active inhospitable rock covered in magma and poison gas to the birthplace of life. A few hundred million years ago, the oxygen levels in the air were so high that various species of scorpions could grow to be 2 feet (0.61 m) long. Climate and geological changes have led to massive extinction events, with some eliminating 96% of the planet’s species.

The relatively good weather of the last few thousand years is actually pretty out of character for this planet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s here to stay. Severe weather events continue to multiply, landmasses (like the Indian Continental Plate) are subsumed by the Ocean, and our atmosphere’s composition is changing.

This change affects much of our lives, from growing food to the buildings we live in. Here at Reliable Paving, we like to stay on top of how the changes in the world reflect on what we do. So how does climate change affect asphalt paving? What can we do about it?

What does a changing weather/climate have to do with asphalt anyway?

As you probably know by now, weather changes make a big impact on pavement. UV damage runs its course, and it changes according to how much sun hits the asphalt. But the main culprit of weather damage is water. Water gets in porous asphalt and then changes size when the temperature changes. As the water expands and contracts, asphalt does too. Cracks form, the aggregate loosens, and existing problems will get worse. What’s more, is that liquid in the ground underneath the asphalt can cause frost heave, a big change in the asphalt’s surface level. Ok, so weather definitely effects asphalt. But what about climate change?

Climate change is minor over all, so why should it affect pavement?

From 1880 to 2020 the average land temperature has only gone up by about 1 degreeCelsius (3.8° F), and by 2100 it should be up by about 4 degrees Celsius (7.2° F). That’s not so bad right? Well….unfortunately, 75% of the heat increase since 1880 has happened since 1975. The process is only expected to continue to accelerate.

On top of the over-all heating speeding up, we have more extreme weather. Rather than being a graph that simply slowly plods up, climate change results in the weather being more extreme, both in cold and heat. There is an over all trend towards it being more hot, and the heat levels’ extremities worry us plenty. Extreme weather also is an enormous threat, because events such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and high-wind storms can destroy our paving/road infrastructure.

The threat from extreme weather

Extreme weather is climate change’s most immediate threat to most of us. It can destroy crops, homes, businesses, and entire cities (see: New Orleans, Louisiana, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Of course, severe weather can also destroy our paving infrastructure. So the question that arises is simple: What can we do about it? It’s neither cost-effective nor safe to have highways, roads, parking lots, and roofing (which also uses asphalt) that gets destroyed every few years.

Tougher asphalt

Changing our asphalt’s aggregate mix and binder is the key issue here. Upgrading the binder increases its durability and lifetime. Same goes for aggregate. However, thanks to the existing infrastructure we have, these changes are expensive. Fortunately, the savings come in as we will spend less on maintenance over the lifetimes of these upgraded asphalts.

Different maintenance methods

Although the maintenance for higher-quality asphalt paving is less expensive, it’s different from the usual. Rather than just checking the asphalt for damage, it’s important to look at the wider area around it. Is this area prone to flooding? Drought? Severe storms with high winds? Is there erosion close enough that will make it to the asphalt in the next decade?

For an in-depth look at dealing with climate change’s effects on asphalt, read this study from the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

The threat from global warming

Urban heat islands

As the planet gets hotter and hotter, asphalt doesn’t help. Especially hot areas in cities are created by black asphalt which absorbs the sun’s energy and traps it, further heating the air above and around it. This phenomenon is known as the Urban Heat Island Effect. Asphalt blacktop disproportionately contributes to it. The long and short of it is that asphalt absorbs heat and makes the surrounding areas much hotter.

Toxic gas

When exposed to extreme heat and sunlight, asphalt also releases air pollution. Asphalt is made with petroleum products. When it gets extremely hot and is exposed to sun, it begins to release gasses normally associated with oil products. These gasses go into the air and become part of what the people who live nearby breathe on a daily basis in the summer. Pollutants released include PM 2.5 (tiny particles that aerosolize and damage lungs) and mixtures of harmful organic compounds. According to Science Advances, asphalt is a major nontraditional source of secondary aerosols. As paved roads make up 20% of the built environment, and asphalt is 45% of roofing, this is a big issue to tackle.

Solutions include using different materials. Recycled plastic can be used in roads and roofing. Asphalt can also be coated white, or with a reflective surface, so it can reflect, rather than absorb sunlight and heat.

Reliable Paving can help you avoid creating an urban heat island

If you have a paving job that needs to get done, but you are concerned about the heat or pollution caused by it, then contact us. We can offer environmentally-friendly solutions to your paving needs. With experience totaling more than 35 years, and a well-trained team of over 200 paving contractors, we can handle any job. When you rely on us, you will learn the meaning of “relentless cooperation.” Get your work done well, get your work done reliably, with Reliable Paving.

Concrete Rehabilitation: Slab Fracturing

If you’ve ever seen pavement before, you’ve seen damaged pavement. Even in the best weather in the world, pavement eventually develops ruts, pits, cracks, and more. As it gets worse, it can turn into potholes and uneven surfaces. Finally it crumbles and gives way. One of the bigger problems facing most cities regularly is maintaining its asphalt paving and concrete paving. There are plenty of things that can be done, such as seal coating, hot mix repair, cold mix repair, and full-depth repair. Finally, as a last measure, the pavement can be completely replaced.

One of the keys in repairing and maintaining asphalt is of course cost. Economics plays a big role in any element of construction, and asphalt paving is no different.

The present solution to asphalt repair and longevity

The current solution is asphalt overlaying. Nearly two-thirds of the Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement in the US has been overlaid. It’s a cheap and relatively effective solution to handling asphalt damage. Portland cement concrete is the most common type of general use cement around the world. It is also the basic ingredient of concrete.

However, it has some persistent problems. The first is that cracks at joints appear in the overlay. The second problem is that cracks come through from beneath the overlay, and the overlay itself becomes cracked as well. That type of cracking is referred to as reflective cracking. This means that the solution in the end once the overlay is damaged is full-depth repair or replacement. The problems with those two forms of repair is that they are time consuming and costly.

That’s where slab-fracturing comes into play.

What is slab fracturing?

Slab fracturing is used on PCC before overlaying to increase its structural integrity. Essentially, it means that the damaged pieces of concrete that will be overlaid are further broken. This process may seem counter-intuitive, but it is effective. Damaging the underlying concrete slab helps reduce future damage to the overlay. Slab fracturing is also referred to as rehabilitating concrete.

It is based on the principle that damage to the slab below the overlay reduces stress. It does so by spreading out the load from weight across the whole surface of the concrete. This prevents extremely concentrated loads that can crack and damage individual parts of the paving.  The use of slab fracturing reduces crack at joints, and reduces reflective cracking in overlay. There are three main ways that it is used.

  • Crack and seat (C&S) for PCC without steel reinforcement. This is intended to reduce the slab length of PCC. It does so by producing tight surface cracks.
  • Break and seat (B&S) for PCC with steel reinforcement. This method requires greater effort to break the PCC slabs, rather than simply cracking them. Additionally, the added steel increases the surface strength. It does however, cost more due to the breaking process and the added materials.
  • This process is exactly what it sounds like. It involves breaking down the slabs beneath the overlay into 4-8-inch sized pieces. This method is cost effective, because the rubble remains in place after breaking. That means that there is no transport to or from the worksite.

What is the best method?

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The preferred methods are based on a combination of ease of performance and cost-effectiveness. A survey of stakeholders showed that crack and seat, and rubblization were the most popular. Most likely because they are the cheapest and still highly effective. Of course, some pavement receives extreme use by heavy machinery, construction vehicles, and loaders. This pavement will probably benefit from the steel reinforcement to ensure the overlay doesn’t  crack under the weight.

Is slab fracturing it effective?

Rubblized cement with a 5-inch overlay was highly effective. It inhibited reflective cracking and had little performance differences otherwise. Surface smoothness, rut depth, and other cracking was found to be the same as other surface restoration methods. The other methods it was compared to were minimum and maximum restoration, as well as overlays with sealed and sawed joints. Researchers also  discovered something else: it could be perpetual. That is, rubblized PCC could last indefinitely. It could do so under two conditions. The first was that the overlay was 8 inches or more. The second condition is that the foundation is strong enough. Of course, there would still need to be some maintenance done to seal coat and keep it protected.

It was also possible to prevent reflective cracking with the B&S and C&S methods. In the right conditions, reflective cracking would not happen at all. Even in the wrong conditions, their performance for reflective cracking was quite good.

Is your interest piqued? If you simply can’t get enough concrete slab rehabilitation, you are in luck. Here is the long form report from the NCAT. The NCAT is the National Center for Asphalt Technology.  You’re welcome.

What’s the verdict?

Concrete slab fracturing is a cheap and effective way to rehabilitate concrete. It’s better than replacement and cheaper than other forms of repair. Not only is it strong and low-cost, it’s also better for the environment, requiring less outside materials. In short: rehabilitate, don’t replace.

Does your concrete need some rehab?

If your concrete paving isn’t looking so good, get it fixed reliably. Reliable Paving is a professional, experienced, and dedicated construction contractor crew. With a team of over 200 and experience paving all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, no job is too big. Our services offered are many, including concrete maintenance, seal coating, repairs, replacement, striping, and laying asphalt. Don’t let your paving fall into disrepair any longer. Contact us today to get started on getting your pavement into tiptop shape.

Asphalt and Carbon Sequestration

Greenhouse gasses and carbon dioxide

If you are a little bit familiar with the greenhouse effect, you probably know how it works and what the main culprit is. In case you don’t, here’s a quick breakdown: heat gets trapped in the atmosphere according to the level of greenhouse gas currently present. More greenhouse gasses equals more heat trapped. The heat builds up and the climate gets hotter over all.

Carbon comes from natural and human causes. All decaying material, especially plant matter, releases carbon. That is the biggest factor in adding carbon to the atmosphere. Usually it is added as CO2, or carbon dioxide. Now carbon dioxide itself isn’t so bad, and is a natural part of the Earth’s environment. Humans, and nearly every other animal breathes in oxygen, and breathes out CO2. However, it is currently being overproduced, and this is one of the main factors worsening climate change.

Slash and burn deforestation creates enormous quantities of decaying biomatter that in turn makes vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Industry also belches out carbon dioxide on…well, and industrial scale. Cargo shipping alone accounts for about 3% of the whole world’s CO2 emissions. Factories do their damage by releasing tons (literally) of CO2, and other worse gasses, like methane. Finally, agriculture also releases vast amounts of greenhouse gasses. Carbon dioxide isn’t even the worst one, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases are much worse. However, carbon is our focus because it accounts for over 81% of greenhouse emissions.

So what does this have to do with asphalt?

Asphalt plays a big role in carbon sequestration. What is that? It means removing carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it somewhere where it won’t get back out. This in turn reduces carbon’s greenhouse effect, and reduces the effects of climate change. There are two ways to do this right now.

  • Biologic carbon sequestration. This is the storage of atmospheric carbon in vegetation, both land-based and aquatic. The carbon is stored in roots, tree trunks, and the bodies of plants. This is useful, as much vegetation also breathes C02 and helps filter air in general.
  • Geologic carbon sequestration. This is the process of storing C02 in underground geological formations. The carbon dioxide is pressurized until in liquid form, then stored in rock formations. It fits well into porous formations, and can even be used for oil and gas extraction.

This is where asphalt comes into the picture.

Asphalt and the environment

We’ve already mentioned how asphalt is actually not nearly as harmful to the environment as one might think, and how it’s improving its footprint over time. Asphalt is primarily something called aggregate. Aggregate is what it sounds like- a collection of small stones, crushed rock, and little, hard things. It is all kept together by a glue. This glue, or binder, is an oil product. Now, the oil industry is famously bad for the environment. Extraction is awful for local ecologies, and accidents can result in crude oil covering huge swathes of the ocean and land. Fortunately, asphalt is mostly recycled, seriously reducing the need for new oil products. This in turn decreases carbon emissions from extraction. Future carbon is also not but into the atmosphere by the extracted oil later being burned.

But how does asphalt sequester carbon?

The first and main way, is by covering a surface. A surface covered in asphalt has that asphalt trapped inside of it. One thing people may not know about plants is that during the night, their roots absorb oxygen and they expel carbon dioxide. This means that the soil can become loaded with that carbon gas, which gets released into the atmosphere. With asphalt covering the surface of the soil, that gas stays underground. It may seem a bit extreme, but the more of the Earth’s surface we cover in asphalt paving, the more carbon we keep out of the air.

So we should pave as much of the Earth over as possible right? Well…it would have some pretty bad effects in the short run. In the long run though, a 100% paved planet would have a very stable, predictable climate.

Fortunately, asphalt has a few other tricks up its sleeve.

Asphalt-porous carbon

New developments in paving technology have led to more porous types of asphalt. This asphalt works just like underground porous rocks that hold carbon. This new material can capture carbon and store over 100% of its weight in carbon. When it is applied to high pressures, of 30 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level, it absorbs CO2. What this means is that it can be used underground at “wellheads.” Wellheads are places where carbon is released in large tubes, often from factories and other big polluters. When the material is released from the pressure, it releases the carbon. This enables it to be “pumped” so that the CO2 can be liquidized and brought to permanent storage. This cheap and easy-to-use material was discovered by Rice University, and you can read all about the specifics here.

The possibilities are endless. Parking lots and roads could be paved with asphalt-porous carbon. It then absorbs underground emissions, preventing thousands of tons of CO2 from entering the air we breathe.

Find out what else asphalt and pavement can do

At Reliable Paving, we believe in more than just doing the best job we can for you. We want to do our work, efficiently, cleanly, and in a way that benefits as many as possible. We make sure to stay on top of the best, most resource-efficient ways to pave and lay asphalt. We are paving contractors with a purpose – unrelenting good service, and a mission to be greener, more efficient, and the best we can be. Contact us today to learn about our environmentally-friendly paving methods, and what we can do for you.

Is Winter a Good Time to Repair Asphalt?

Winter may not be the ideal time to get those crucial asphalt repairs. When is the best time to do it? What repairs can you do in the winter?

Winter weather is one of the main killers of asphalt. When any water gets inside asphalt paving, it expands and contracts with temperature changes. This causes existing problems like cracks and bumps to get worse. Fortunately, there are solutions for fixing your pavement in the winter. It may not be the ideal time for any type of road/parking lot work for various reasons, but it is possible.

Types of asphalt repair

Whether you are getting asphalt cracks sealed, potholes filled, or sections of asphalt replaced, there are two main ways it can be repaired: hot and cold mix.

Hot mix

Hot mix asphalt must stay compact in order to perform properly. If the temperature is too low, it won’t set right. If the outside temperature is too low, it might not even make it to the location without cooling enough to no longer be effective. Hot mix asphalt should only be used when the temperature is going to be consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit for at least several days.

Cold Mix

Cold mix asphalt is designed to work in just about any temperature, so it is a great solution for emergency winter fixes. Unlike hot mix, it can’t be paved, so it won’t work for replacing an entire driveway, parking lot, or large swathe of pavement.

Infrared

Some repairs that involve removing damaged asphalt for repairs involve heating. The existing asphalt is heated technology, and then removed in its hotter, more pliable state. Now, this of course is not possible, or prohibitively difficult during winter months. So sometimes just getting the area to be filled ready is not possible when the weather is inclement. Fortunately, infrared can be done just about any time of the year. Its technology enables sub-surface heating that is independent of the ambient temperature.

Other winter conditions to look out for

Besides temperature fluctuations, there is also frequently precipitation during the winter months. Rain, ice, sleet, hail, snow, whatever, it will interrupt your repair work. Be sure that when you  are getting your repairs done, the weather is expected to be clear and dry for enough time for the asphalt to set and be safe for vehicles and pedestrians.

One problem with precipitation, is that even in mild climates, it happens. In the Southern United States, from Florida to Arizona, freezing temperatures are fairly uncommon. Especially persistent freezing temperatures that last more than a few days. This is great for getting hot or cold mix repairs done. However, these states often see higher degrees of precipitation in the winter, putting a hole in your hole-patching plans. Even if the weather isn’t freezing, the application of water to uncompacted asphalt can ruin the patching and prevent compaction.

When is the ideal time to repair asphalt?

Since winter seems like it’s not an option for large-scale repairs and replacement, when is? The ideal time for asphalt repairs are when the temperature is in the mid 70s F. This means that mid-March through early/mid October or November is ideal, as the steady/warm weather enables the pavement to become compacted, smooth, and good to go.

So what can we do when we need repairs in the winter?

If emergency repairs during the winter are non-negotiable, there are still some options.

Wait for good weather

Even in the northern states, it’s not always freezing during the winter. This means that if you have a week or so of temperate weather, you can schedule repairs for this time. Of course, be sure to talk to a trusted paving contractor to ensure that things should go according to plan, and that the repair plan is a good one.

Other options include using technology that works in the winter. Infrared and cold mix asphalt are great options, but of course they have their limitations. Whole parking lots and driveways can’t be paved during freezing weather, so you are best scheduling those bigger projects for the following spring.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

This phrase is a cliché, of course, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. The absolute best thing you can is protect your asphalt pavement in advance.

  • Get your paving seal coated. Seal coating is covering the pavement with..well, a seal. The seal prevents water seepage and further water damage. Doing a seal coat every few years will make your parking lot or driveway last for decades.
  • If you use de-icer, make sure it isn’t too caustic. Salt and other de-icers can act as solvents that break down the binding of asphalt. Don’t continue to use them if you have noticed damage after previous uses. Find something that plays nicer with your pavement.
  • Clear debris. Clearing debris makes further maintenance and cleaning easier. Debris can not only lead to damage, but it is a hazard for people and cars on paving.
  • Fix small problems early. A crack sealed early on is going to be easier to deal with than one that has expanded into a network and requires pavement to be replaced. Potholes should be filled before they grow into giant gaping eyesores.

Here’s a great list from Main Infrastructure in Canada about ways to protect your paving before and during the winter months.

Get the best winter asphalt treatment and maintenance you can

Reliable Paving is ready to help you prepare for winter, and perform winter repairs if you need it. We use hot and cold mix repair methods, and we are happy to schedule spring, summer, and fall work if the job is too big to be done in cold weather. If you want a job done right, get it done by someone who’s reliable. Contact us today, and we can help you with your winter asphalt repairs.

Trails And Walkways: Paving Projects That Improve Lives

Not all asphalt has to go into roads and parking lots.

The vast majority of asphalt paving in the country goes into roads and parking lots. Well, 94% of the roads in the US are made from asphalt, so the number is must be pretty high. About 85% of all asphalt produced is used as a binder in road asphalt concrete. That’s a lot. The rest of the vast majority (10%) is used in roofing – the sealing and weatherproofing in many roofs comes from asphalt binder. That leaves just 5% for other uses. Almost all of the rest is used in sealing and insulating. 

So most asphalt is accounted for in building roads and waterproofing…but what else is it used for? Believe it or not, asphalt, as simple as it seems, can be used to benefit communities in non-traditional ways. Some of the best ways to benefit a location aren’t always massive infrastructure projects. Sure, installing a sewer system/water treatment, internet and phone lines, and building roads are important for developing any community. However, there are some much more subtle and easy ways to spur development and improve people’s lives. And one of those things require asphalt.

Trails, also known as greenways, are paths built for people o enjoy. Usually these paths are in natural areas, by beaches, in forests, or across prairie. They can also go through parks and nearby neighborhoods. These paths typically don’t allow motor vehicles, but they do allow foot traffic, bicycles, roller blades and skates, and other self-propelled means of transportation. 

Why build a trail system?

Good question. What benefits do trails provide that roads don’t? In fact, most people could probably think of the problems that trails don’t solve more easily.

  • Vehicles can’t ride on them, so they can’t be used to transport too many people or things.
  • They are often windy and indirect, so they don’t get people where they want to go efficiently.
  • They tend to be in remote areas, so they don’t take people where they want to go.
  • Trails are for leisure, not utility. 

These are all fair points, but they miss the main point of trails: they are good for people. Trails benefit people’s mental and physical health, and thus provide an over all benefit to the communities that they are in. 

Let’s take an in-depth look at the benefits of trails and greenways. Asphalt and paving is for more than just cars.

Health benefits

Across all ages and other demographics, when people are nearby trails, they get out more. The benefits to leading more active lives results in happier people and a more productive population. Additionally, the lower medical costs of dealing with healthy people as opposed to unhealthy people means trails can pay for themselves over time. 

  • Trails help control weight and diabetes, as well as cholesterol levels and bone loss associated with aging.
  • The low-impact exercise that is easy to find on trails helps decrease risk of cancers, and helps reduce anxiety and depression. 
  • Easy access to nature is enables people to relax. Studies have shown that spending time in nature does wonders for the mental health of everyone across the board.
  • Short trails enable people to easily get some exercise while going to and from work, school, and or shopping.
  • Trails provide pretty and accessible locations where children can play. Children’s health around trails is improved because they can find places to exercise and play more easily and in nicer settings.
  • A study cited in this in-depth look at trail benefits from the Rails to Trails Conservancy showed that 70% of trail users reported being more active thanks to trail systems nearby.

 

Economic benefits

Trails also provide a boon of economic bonuses to wherever they are. Some of them are in savings (such as lower medical costs in the area because the population is healthier), but many come in the form of increased spending. The ways trails benefit the economy are myriad.

  • Trails increase the property values of nearby homes and businesses.
  • Trails influence business locations and other decisions. As cycling has grown in popularity across the US, numerous restaurants and bars have opened up in otherwise tiny towns. Where did they open? Where cyclists from nearby communities pass through their towns. On longer trails, shopping centers (for trail supplies), and hotels open in order to serve those on long trips.
  • Trails boost spending at local businesses. People come to enjoy trail systems. Along the way, the need to eat and drink too. 
  • Trails provide alternative transportation options. This means people can live happily without cars sometimes. Benefits include:
    • Fuel expenses are lower.
    • Reduced levels of carbon emissions in communities with trails.
    • Less traffic/traffic jams.
    • Less space required for parking and roads.
    • Less environmental impact (fewer roads, traffic, fuel consumption, and parking space required) over all.
  • Trails create higher demand for the areas they are in. They do so because trails make an area more attractive for people to visit and live in. This has several effects:
    • Revitalizing depressed areas. Low income individuals without cars can more easily get around, have jobs and more.
    • Increase property values (as mentioned above). By creating more demand in an area, buildings that were once vacant can be brought back and the whole neighborhood will see the benefits.
  • The money saved from lower medical expenses is also an economic benefit to a community.

 

Trailblazing the way to healthier communities

Here at Reliable Paving, we are interested not only in doing the best jobs we possibly can do on your paving project, but also benefiting your community. We are socially responsible paving contractors who keep up with the ways in which we can benefit you, ourselves, and the world around us. If you are interested in improving your community by bringing in some extra money and making people healthier, contact us for your trail paving project today.