The History of Asphalt

Without asphalt, most motor vehicles would be almost useless. Asphalt pavement is one of the defining features of modern society, enabling easy and cheap transportation. It’s all around us, every day, but most people don’t know about its origins.                                                                                                                           

Asphalt, or bitumen, is a viscous, black, almost solid form of oil. It is found naturally, and also in a refined state. Its most common use nowadays is in roads (where approximately 70% of asphalt goes). Most people regard it as a generally new invention. However, asphalt actually has a long history, going back to ancient times, where it had various uses. We’re going to look at asphalt’s uses over history, focusing on innovations and developments from the last 100 years, especially in the United States. For a long, in depth history of paving and asphalt all over the world look here.


Ancient Asphalt                                                                               

Ancient Indus valley civilizations used asphalt for waterproofing, dating back to about 5000 BC. It was used for adhesive and waterproofing by the Sumerians and Babylonians as well. The ancient Egyptians used bitumen in the embalming process, getting their bitumen from the Dead Sea. In ancient Japan, items were made by boiling bitumen down to finer ingredients and then forming it. In the ancient Americas, bitumen was used as the sharp points of arrows and spears, as well as waterproofing canoes. It could also be heated in pots to drive away mosquitoes.

The word asphalt comes from the ancient Greek asphatos, which means “to secure.”

Asphalt was used throughout the world, especially in Europe and the Middle East, as a waterproofing and sealing agent up until the 1800s. 


Modern Asphalt

The First Asphalt Roads in the Early 1800s

The Champs-Elysee in Paris was paved in 1824, using natural asphalt. This is generally regarded as the first modern asphalt road. 

Around the same time, in Scotland, roads were being built with broken stones. They were later joined with hot tar, producing a surface known as “tarmacadam.” Hot tar was actually used to ease maintenance and prolong the life of the road, as well as to reduce dust.

These early roads paved the way for the massive motorway developments that would take place in the 20th century.


Asphalt Use in the United States

The first asphalt/bitumen mixtures in the US were used for sidewalks, crosswalks, and roads, starting in the late 1860s. 

In 1870, the first true asphalt pavement, derived from a sand mix was laid in New Jersey. It was successful enough that the same builder went on to pave Pennsylvania in Washington DC.                                                                                                                   

Asphalt pavement caught on quick in the United States, as it provided a much more durable surface to roads than traditional dirt or gravel.


20th Century Changes

Until the early 1900s, most asphalt in the US came from natural sources. The first modern asphalt production facility was built in 1901 in Massachusetts. By the early 1900s, production of refined asphalt superseded natural asphalt. The production process became mechanized and industrialized to take advantages of economies of scale. This facility used drum driers and drum drier mixers, mechanizing the process that was once stirring asphalt by hand. By the 1920s, the first mechanically-laid asphalt was installed.                                                                                                                                   


The Automobile

Nothing laid the foundation for the wide-scale used of asphalt in the US like the advent of the motorcar. State and local governments began to receive innumerable requests to build better roads as more Americans acquired cars. This huge increase in demand led to innovations in asphalt production and the laying of pavement. 


The Second World War

In the 1940s, the building boom of WWII dramatically increased the demand for asphalt even further. It needed to be produced and laid at a great pace. The demand largely came from the increase in enormous military aircraft. They required extremely durable surfaces for takeoff and landing. 


The 1950s-2000s Innovation and Improvement

1950s and 1960s

Electronics began to be used soon after in asphalt production. By the 1950s and 1960s, large parts of the asphalt manufacturing and laying process was automated. Electronic leveling and screening controls, and extra-wide finishers that could lay two lanes at once came into use in the late 60s. 

Asphalt construction in the 50s was a big, dirty, dusty business. By the 1960s, air pollution became a major concern. Asphalt manufacturers began to become more environmentally friendly — and thus more efficient. 

The 1970s and on

The main thrust of asphalt production in the latter-half of the 20th century was quality improvement. Economies of scale had been effectively achieved with automation and mechanization, so quality became the new focus. 

Recycling asphalt was actually very common in the early 20th century, but the rise of new asphalt refineries in the 1950s made it cheaper to get new than recycled. The 1970s energy crisis showed the importance of reusing existing materials. Recycling asphalt became common again. To this day, asphalt is the most recycled material in the US.

In 1986, the National Center for Asphalt Technology was founded. The NCAT is the top location in the world for research and development. Thanks to centralizing research and science regarding asphalt, the last 50 years have seen asphalt pavement start to be used in a huge variety of ways and locations. 

High durable mixtures are used for runways and loading docks. Asphalt has been consistently improved to be more efficient, environmentally friendly, longer lasting, and smoother.

Asphalt today bears little resemblance to its first uses seaming together baskets, or even its first uses on roads in the US. However, looking back, the progress made in this ubiquitous substance is astounding, especially over the last 100 years. 


Do You Need Asphalt Work Done? 

If you have a paving project in your near future, look no further than Reliable Paving. We are a full-service asphalt paving contractor who can help you with each step of your project. Whether you want something new built, maintenance performed, or you have questions about a project, contact us. With over 35 years of experience, and a team of over 200 people, no job is too big, or beyond our abilities.

planning a job in the summer

Summer is the Best Season to Do Asphalt Paving

Maybe you need a parking lot seal coated, maybe you need repairs done on a drive, maybe you want to expand your business and thus need more sidewalk and parking lot. Whatever the reason for your yearly paving project, there is definitely a best time to get it done. Late spring through summer make for the best times to get asphalt and paving projects done.

Longer Setting Times

The fact that the summer heat keeps the asphalt from hardening might sound like a problem. Asphalt that takes too long to set means you have an unusable area of road or pavement that holds up business. It also means that there is more room for error when the pavement is being laid and shaped in the first place, right?

In fact, it’s the opposite. When asphalt takes longer to set, it gives paving crews a longer time to work with it. Paving crews have a whole host of equipment for flattening asphalt as they lay it. Things like smoothing irons, lutes, and even steamrollers are all used after laying. They help flatten the asphalt, creating a smooth, uniform surface. In colder temperatures, the asphalt takes much less time to set (harden) after it is laid. This means the odds of having bumps and ridges is much higher.

Summer is the best time to lay asphalt, because it gives pavement contractors longer to smooth it and set it properly.

In 40° F weather, a 1.5-inch deep only has 16 minutes available for compaction. The same thickness (1.5 inches) takes 24 minutes in 80° F weather. Similarly, 3-inch thick asphalt has about a 45-minute compaction window in 40° F weather, and over 65-minute window in 80° F weather. On this page there’s a handy chart of when asphalt is workable according to its thickness and temperature.

Greater Stability

The summer’s warmth also helps with a few other parts of the setting process as well. The consistent warm temperatures of summer days usually means that the asphalt is much more uniform when it is laid as well. This means that the likelihood of air bubbles is much less. When the asphalt is throughout its thickness it is not only easier to work with, but also much more resistant to damage. 

One of the main ways in which asphalt incurs damage is through water seeping into small cracks and then air bubbles. When the water expands and contracts with the temperature, those small cracks become bigger ones. Over time, things like ruts and potholes will form as well. 

Regardless of the season, asphalt should be smooth, flat, and uniform. This gives it the longest life and prevents the most damage. It’s easiest to lay asphalt this way during the summer, as the high temperatures allow it to be worked more carefully.

More Time to Work

Often asphalt laying can be done by machine. But just as often, it requires labor-intensive handiwork. The surface asphalt has to be smoothed, and raked by hand. Asphalt placed in a cramped area might not be able to get a steamroller to fit, so it may need to be compressed manually, or with a hand-controlled compactor. 

We already know that summer provides warmer temperatures for working with asphalt. Another summer benefit is longer daylight hours. Longer hours simply means that there is more time to work safely, easily, and cheaply. Many pavement contractors will charge higher costs for working in the dark or at night due to the increased risk. 

Seal Coating Dries Faster in the Summer

After placing any asphalt, especially for parking lots and driveways, a paving crew will apply sealant. This material does exactly what its name implies. It coats the pavement in a breathable, durable, protective shell. This shell enables the asphalt to be used for longer by essentially weatherproofing it. The seal plugs pores and tiny holes in the asphalt that would normally allow water and other solvents in. Just preventing damage from liquids getting in the pavement is far more cost effective, and seriously extends the life of the asphalt. 

Warm asphalt absorbs sealant better than cool asphalt. Sealant normally takes about one to three days to dry — depending on the humidity and temperature. 

Seal Coating is Easier to do in the Summer

Sealant requires a temperature of over 50° F, and a 24-hour period without heavy rain. This is a much easier feat to accomplish in the summer than in most other seasons. Read more about proper seal coating here.

Better Weather

We know that summer can bring out some bad weather. Tornado Alley extends from Northern Texas to South Dakota. Unfortunately, with climate change and more accurate meteorology, we’ve seen that the high-risk tornado zone in the US is much larger, including a greater swathe of the South and Midwest. Tornadoes, hailstorms, heavy winds and rain…these are all parts of summer in much of America.

Summer is still one of the most reliable paving times though. The steady days of no rain, and warm, consistent weather make it great for planning and executing paving and asphalt jobs. The summer heat, combined with humidity, make the night-day temperature differential smaller. Freezes aren’t a concern, and that is definitely another plus. Finally, less inclement weather is good for any construction project. Anything that helps work get done within-budget, and on-time is a huge benefit.

Looking for Help With Your Summer Paving Project?

If you are thinking about getting a project done over the summer, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reliable Paving is a top-notch paving contractor, serving Texas and surrounding states. With over 35 years of experience, 19 crews with over 200 employees, and numerous paving services, we are ready to meet your needs. If you have any questions about your summer project, want a quote, or just need some advice, get in touch with us today.


workers laying asphalt

Deciding Whether to Maintain, Repair, or Replace Asphalt

Is it best to prevent damage to your asphalt or repair minor damages? What about letting it degrade and fully replacing it?

If you are a business owner with a parking lot, concrete, or asphalt of any kind, you are familiar with degradation. Over time, asphalt starts to break down. Tiny droplets of water get inside and then start to expand and contract. As that happens, it forces the binding of the asphalt apart, causing damage. Other substances that cause damage include oil/solvents from vehicles, and ultra violet light. What is better? A full-on re-installation of the asphalt? Prevention? Or something in-between? Let’s look at all three options and see where they fit.



Preventing damage in the first place is often regarded as the most cost-effective way to handle your asphalt pavement. It is usually much cheaper to have preventative work done than it is to replace or repair asphalt. 

In fact, at Reliable Paving, we are experts on prevention of asphalt damage. Read about the many ways you can keep your parking lot in tip-top shape here

Prevention Methods

Seal Coating

Seal coating covers your asphalt in a weather-proof shell. The seal coating process prevents water entry, tree roots digging in, and UV damage. It is one of the most cost-effective means of damage prevention.

Regular Clean-up

Just like anything else, maintaining asphalt requires regular repairs and cleaning. Remove debris like branches, dust, and oil spills regularly. Other regular maintenance involves repainting when the original coat of paint fades. This makes sure people use the lot correctly and it doesn’t receive undue vehicle damage. 

Proper Drainage

Your asphalt should have some kind of drainage system. Water is the universal solvent, and stands to do the most damage to your pavement. If you have an easy and efficient way of removing water, it becomes much less of a worry. Many parking lots have gutters around them, and are also built on slight inclines. This simple method prevents water from pooling and then sinking into the pavement where it can cause damage.

Be sure to maintain your drainage as well. If the drainage system becomes full of debris, it won’t work anymore. A seriously clogged drainage system can even damage your asphalt.


Maintenance and Rehabilitation

As the condition of your pavement goes down over time, prevention becomes less effective. In these cases, repairs, maintenance, and rehabilitation are required. These can vary from minor potholes and cracks being filled to serious structural repair and rehabilitation. 

Types of Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance

This is most effective when the pavement has little-to-no distress. It is done to preserve the asphalt and slow future degradation. Examples of this type of maintenance are chip seals, slurry seals, and thin overlays. Seal coating mentioned earlier could be considered a type of preventative maintenance. There is some overlap between prevention and maintenance, and this is where preventative maintenance lies.


Corrective Maintenance

When pavement distress becomes apparent in the forms of potholes, large cracks, and surface deformation, it’s time for corrective maintenance. 

Corrective maintenance is exactly what it sounds like. It’s repair of serious damage. When the functionality of the asphalt begins to suffer from damage, it needs to be corrected. If pavement can no longer be used safely, efficiently, or at all, corrective maintenance is applied. Corrective maintenance includes pothole repair and patching, joint and/or slab replacement, and smaller actions. The smaller types of corrective maintenance include crack filling, cleaning drainage systems, and more. You will notice again, there is some overlap between prevention and maintenance. Cleaning drainage systems are a good example of that. There is also crossover between corrective maintenance and routine maintenance.

Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance are regularly-performed actions to preserve the integrity of a system. This goes for any system, not just asphalt pavement. Routine maintenance can include seal coating every several years, cleaning drains, cleaning solutions off asphalt surface, and much more. 

As you can see, types of maintenance do have a fair amount of overlap with each other. The reason for that is simple — they serve the same function. All maintenance is designed to ensure pavement is kept in the highest condition for as long as possible.



Rehabilitation for asphalt is much more serious than maintenance. Rehabilitation is classified as structural enhancements that extend the service life of existing pavement, or increase its load-capacity. Basically, rehabilitation makes pavement more functional. It also usually occurs at a deeper level of pavement, making it a more serious, and costly procedure than maintenance. Rehab often involves adding steel structural supports, or replacing deeper levels of the paving layers.



Reconstruction is the most serious way of dealing with old or damaged pavement. When asphalt reaches a certain point in its life, it needs to be replaced. This is usually true of asphalt that is 10 years old or more, or has experienced serious damage. 

Reconstruction is the most costly option in both time and money. It should be saved for the worst cases of damaged and or aged asphalt.


Should I Maintain, Repair, or Replace my Asphalt?

Generally, it’s best to have a strict maintenance plan for your pavement. This means that as soon as it is constructed, routine maintenance begins. Routine and preventative actions should prevent major distress in the pavement for many years. Make sure you have the resources on hand for when pavement distress becomes apparent, so you can perform rehabilitation and repairs. Sometimes reconstruction is the only option. But what if you don’t know what stage your asphalt is in?

If you aren’t sure, ask the professionals at Reliable Paving. We have over 35 years of experience on the matter as paving contractors, and we will be happy to help with any of your asphalt paving questions. Our specialties include asphalt paving, concrete and asphalt repair, seal coating, ADA compliance, and more. We are happy to bring our professionalism to your paving-related projects.

Cost-Saving Techniques for Installing Asphalt

There are plenty of different ways to lay asphalt. However, if you are looking for the meeting point of quality and cost-saving, it’s not hard to find.

You might not think so, but laying asphalt can be surprisingly-environmentally friendly, too. The reason for this is that the same cost-saving techniques often reuse and recycle existing materials, obviating the whole supply chain.


What is the asphalt laying process?

These are the steps that your paving contractor should follow in order to lay asphalt properly:

Clearing and removal

The first step, like almost any construction project, is to clear the building area. Whatever the existing surface is, whether asphalt, concrete, or soil, it has to be cleared of debris. This is often done with heavy machinery, and sometimes demolitions.


Then, when the surface is prepared, it is properly graded and sloped. This basically means that the ground is built so that it has a slight tilt. This is essential because it gives water a place to run off and prevents asphalt damage as a consequence. Water is the main source of asphalt damage on any surface.

Sub-base preparation

The soil below the asphalt must be properly leveled and compacted. This is arguably the most important step. If the sub-base is improperly prepared, the lifespan of the pavement on top will be a fraction of what it would otherwise be.

Adding the binder

Once the sub-base is properly prepared, it’s time to add the binder. The binder is made from aggregate and oil. Aggregate is a mix of small stones and pebbles that form the vast majority (94%) of asphalt pavement. The binder is a processed oil product that does exactly what you think it would—it “glues” the aggregate together, forming the asphalt into one solid piece. Even though the binder is only 6%, it is the highest-cost part of the asphalt by far.

Surface installation

With the sub-base, binder, and aggregate installed, the surface comes next. The surface asphalt is made of small aggregate, sand, tiny pebbles, and oil (the binder). The smaller aggregate means that the surface is smooth, with a clean appearance.


Most asphalt is installed adjacent to other existing asphalt, pavement, or concrete. Parking lots connect to sidewalks, sidewalks connect to buildings, and so on. The places where these areas join up requires special attention. They must be level to prevent damage to vehicles and for ease of pedestrians. Also, the areas where asphalt joins up must have proper places for water to drain. Without proper drainage, water can get between the asphalt and do major damage when it cools or warms.


Also known as “the final roll,” this process simply involves moving over the asphalt with a large flattener—usually a steamroller. This smooths and compacts everything and prepares it for everyday use.


How to cut costs on asphalt pavement installation

Now that you know roughly how asphalt is installed, let’s look at where the cost-saving steps come in.

Believe it or not, asphalt is actually the most recycled material in the world. Since 2009, in the United States, less than 1% of asphalt winds up disposed of in landfills. A total of 97% of used asphalt winds up in new pavement, while the other 3% goes to civil engineering applications. Nowadays, new asphalt pavements produced in the U.S. contain more than 21% reclaimed pavement. Who knew asphalt was so environmental?

This recycling is more than good for the environment, it has become a major way to save money. On large scales, asphalt is recycled in a plant on industrial levels. These savings can easily be passed on to the consumer, as recycled asphalt can be procured from nearby sites, processed and then sent. New materials don’t need to be mined or drilled (particularly the oil binder), so many costs are avoided. Large scale asphalt recycling is usually what is used in making new asphalt or simultaneously tearing up and replacing old asphalt.

On smaller scales, asphalt recycling can be done in various ways that save money as well. Usually, these steps occur after sub-base preparation, when the binder and aggregate needs to be added. Small-scale recycling is often on-site and completed at high speed or overnight. It is used most commonly for smaller repairs on existing asphalt structures.

Read more about how asphalt recycling has gone from a move towards greener construction to a wise financial choice here.


3 Categories of small-scale asphalt recycling

Asphalt Millings

These are small pieces of pavement produced by grinding the surface of asphalt. Usually, the millings come from the surface layer of asphalt, as the sub-base layer can be contaminated with soil, and other things from the earth. Although asphalt can be milled from concrete, it’s better to be milled from asphalt, as it has more oil (binder) content. Ideal millings have a rich black tint, and are best for asphalt recycling.

Reclaimed asphalt pavement

Also known as RAP, reclaimed asphalt pavement are chunks of existing pavement that have been removed. These pieces are broken off when asphalt is being repaired or modified. 

Blacktop cookies

Blacktop cookies are chunks of hot mix asphalt that can be used for repairs. These un-compacted wafers can be stored, reheated, and used to make repairs using far less labor than pouring new asphalt. Blacktop cookies often are unused material from previous paving jobs.


How to save money on your asphalt installation

So, using recycled materials is better for the earth and your wallet. But how should you go about making the most money-saving move in getting new pavement put in? Should you buy recycled pavement from a large scale recycling plant? Should you get a small-scale asphalt recycling operation to rip up what’s already there and put it back in?

There are a lot of choices to be made, so rely on the professionals to tell you what options are best for your situation. Reliable Paving has over 35 years of paving and asphalt installation and repair experience under their belt. Contact us today to talk to a professional paving contractor who can give you the best advice on how to recycle asphalt and save on your new installation.


Asphalt and Paving in Summer 2020

Predictions and analysis of the demand for paving work that will be done during the summer of 2020

COVID-19 Has Changed Almost Everything

It’s safe to say that COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019, has changed the world. Almost every facet of life is now different. Masks are required in public, and in many other enclosed spaces (as well as private businesses). Large-group get-togethers like concerts won’t be happening any time soon. Almost every aspect of life has changed, and most of it for the worse.

Additionally, business is down in general. Restaurants and entertainment venues are operating at half-capacity if they’re open at all. Many businesses have closed, and won’t ever reopen. 

But what does that mean for paving works this summer? Roads are still being traversed, and parking lots still need to be safe for vehicles and pedestrians alike.

You’ve come to the right place to get that exact question answered.


Asphalt and Paving Works in Mid-2020

So, what about construction, and specifically paving? Riding in hot from a strong market in 2019, the asphalt and paving industry look to be in for a great 2020. 

But what about the market downturn? How has that changed the outlook for paving projects?

Fortunately, asphalt and paving seem to have weathered the storm. As we move into the middle of the year and safety measures are solidly in place against the virus, this corner of the world can move on with just a few key safety measures in place. 


Early 2020

With “shovel ready” projects booked from 2019, plus some hefty government funding, 2020 looked to be a boon year for the paving industry. Federal highway funding increased by $6 Billion in 2017, from $46 Billion.

Despite cautioning that business might take a serious downturn in March, however, it seems most projects have been going on as planned. Paving, particularly as infrastructure, is essential for any community, and so the paving workers were considered essential.

Here are some of more reasons why the paving industry can plan full steam ahead this year:

  • Incomplete projects from last year. Federal funding for 2019 wasn’t released until February 2019, so many 2019 projects are still incomplete and need to be finished this year instead.
  • 2020 Funding was allocated in December 2019. This means that 2020 projects could be backed-up by two years’-worth of funding.
  • FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP). This 2020 and 2019 program provides grants to public (and sometimes private) organizations. The grants are designed to aid the planning and development of public-use airports. 
  • America’s Transportation and Infrastructure Act of 2019. This bill does quite a lot to keep the paving industry moving:
  • It increases funding for tribal and federal lands transportation programs.
  • The bill “requires the Department of Transportation to encourage each state to develop a voluntary plan that provides for the immediate and long-term personnel and workforce needs of the state to deliver transportation and public infrastructure projects.”
  • And so much more—read the bill for yourself here.


Summer 2020

As midyear approaches, it seems that paving and asphalt projects are still going strong. However, it also makes sense to have some cautious optimism. Here are some other factors to consider.

Funding Sources

Roughly 65% of paving and asphalt project funding comes from the federal, state, and local government. The other 35% comes from private markets, both commercial and residential. Government money is fairly reliable, since once a bill becomes law, the funding appears. The private market, however, is much more volatile. 

In the case of a disastrous second-wave of COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S., it’s possible that the private market could take a swift downturn. Additionally, as states open up and numbers of infections start to climb again, there could be another devastating market downturn. Businesses that aren’t open, schools that aren’t running, and government buildings that are shut down won’t need paving services.


Demand Changes

It’s difficult to predict how demand will change exactly for construction services like asphalt paving. There are several reasons, among them:

  • Much of paving needs to be done during low-business times. If a business is shut down, and has the liquid cash needed to get by until it reopens, it could go through with a paving project it had planned anyway. The project needs to be done—and with no clients, the construction can be done more easily and far faster.
  • If businesses don’t survive however because of virus levels spiking and causing closures, then demand will correspondingly decrease.
  • The stay-at-home-effect. In the case that lock-downs are again used, with only essential workers going about their business, it would be a perfect time to get city, highway, and other public works paving projects complete. The fewer people on the roads, the more efficiently workers can do their jobs.
  • Demand from government sources seems to be steady in the storm. An internet search for “paving projects summer 2020” reveals many cities and states going about their asphalt paving projects undeterred. As of late March (after lock downs and social distancing measures began in many states), asphalt and paving projects in almost all states were nonetheless ongoing.


We’re Still Here for You

If you need a paving project done in, you’ve come to the right place. Reliable Paving is a professional, high-quality, and extremely experienced paving contractor. With over 35 years of experience, we have the know-how and expertise to solve your paving needs. 

Come to us for asphalt paving, concrete repair, seal coating, and parking lot striping. We ensure success and guarantee satisfaction. Is your project a big one? With 19 crews and over 200 employees, we can handle large-scale projects skillfully and deftly. Contact us today to see why we are the local leader among paving companies in Arlington, Texas.

How is Asphalt Made

Even though you see it just about everywhere, most people don’t think a whole lot about asphalt. Everyone knows that roads, parking lots, and sidewalks are made from asphalt, but what else is? Airport runways, tennis courts, bike paths, coating for pipes, roof coating, and even the undercarriages of vehicles use asphalt. Some lesser-known uses for asphalt include capsules for radioactive waste, sealant on batteries, and waterproof covering for fabrics. Its most-common use, however, is for road surfaces, as about 85% of asphalt is used in road building.

The word itself comes from the Greek ásphaltos, which roughly means to stop something from falling down. The oldest known use of asphalt is in the 5th century BC, lining a basket for holding crops. It has been used to line baths and even to caulk ships, and ancient North Americans used it to attach heads to arrows and spears.

But what is asphalt and how exactly is this surprisingly present substance made?

What is asphalt?

Asphalt, known also as bitumen, is a sticky, black, semi-solid form of petroleum (oil). It can be found naturally in oil deposits. Places like the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, the Dead Sea in Israel, and other large pits can contain natural asphalt.

Most asphalt today, though, is refined from crude oil.

Asphalt is used as the glue to bind together small, rocky pieces of what is usually gravel or small stones. This is usually known as pavement.

Asphalt is commonly used in roads, but it is also a waterproofing and sealing agent.

Manufactured Asphalt

Most asphalt is made according to what it’s required to do—that is, the process is different whether the final product is road pavement, airport tarmac, or pipe coating. There are some similarities in how all asphalt is made, though.


Step one of making asphalt is distilling crude oil. This means that the crude oil is separated into different parts, usually with chemicals or heat. The separated parts become various things; gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and other oil products. The heavy compounds left over from the distilling process make “topped” (distilled) crude oil for heating gas and other products like asphalt.

Cutting Back

Asphalt may be blended with other agents to create asphalt for different uses. The blending process, called “cutting,” varies according to the cutting agent. Whatever cutting agent determines how light the asphalt is, how easy it is to change its form it is, it’s melting temperature, and how quickly it sets (hardens).


Asphalt can also be emulsified, which means that small droplets of one liquid become dispersed throughout another liquid (that’s a very simple definition, mind you—if you are curious about emulsifying in depth, look here). Asphalt may be emulsified by water, clay, soap, vegetable oils, and more. Some common emulsions are vinaigrette and homogenized milk. The emulsifying process lets asphalt be sent through tubes, or sprayed.

Crushing and Filtering

Hardened asphalt is sometimes pulverized and then filtered until the tiny granules are the same size. When mixed with oil and aggregate (the small pieces of rock and gravel), asphalt can be used for pavement construction.

Air Injection

If the asphalt will be used as a coating, it is often treated with air. Heated asphalt is pumped with air until air bubbles form in it. This process makes asphalt that can stay in a liquid state even at low temperatures.

Paving Asphalt

In the United States, asphalt and pavement are often used interchangeably. However, asphalt actually only makes up about 4-5% of pavement weight, and is by-far, it is the highest-cost part of road paving materials. Asphalt has more than tripled in price since 2002, now costing more than 610 dollars per ton. For more information on asphalt’s usage in highways and costs, check here.

There are a few main types of asphalt used in paving, and they go by the simple names: hot mix, warm mix, and cold mix.

Hot Mix Asphalt

Hot mix asphalt is most likely what you see all around you. Odds are high that this is the asphalt used in paving projects on the streets and highways.

Hot mix asphalt is made by heating asphalt to between 300 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It is then poured at that temperature. Hot mix asphalt repels water and is strongly weather resistant, hence its popularity. Finally, it also sets quickly, so it can only be poured on days that are over 40 degrees.

Warm Mix Asphalt

Using fewer fossil fuels and a lower temperature (200-250 degrees) than hot mix, warm mix is used in less construction, but is can be used in more situations as well. It cools more slowly, so can be poured in colder climates, and it is also easier to ship. Warm mix asphalt is generally cheaper than hot mix asphalt.

Cold Mix Asphalt

Cold mix asphalt is the cheapest of the three, but has a much narrower range of use. It is usually used for repairing the other two types of mixes. It fills cracks and potholes, and is more of a stopgap measure than a permanent solution. Cold mix does not last as long as the other two mixes.


Pavement is actually made up of about 95% aggregates. So one of the final steps in making asphalt is to mix in sand, gravel, and stone. For detailed information on how asphalt is used, what it’s future could be, and how it’s made, check out this article, too.

Getting the Highest Quality Asphalt Services

The educated buyer will want a paving contractor that not only provides a range of paving services, but also ensures quality and legal compliance. Seal coating, asphalt paving, asphalt repairs, crack sealing, and more are all some of the top-quality services offered by Reliable Paving, based out of Arlington, Texas.

Our high-quality equipment and well-trained staff can guarantee you the best asphalt and paving-related services for your dollar. To get the best paving you can, contact us at Reliable Paving today and we will get right in touch.

dimly lit parking lot

Top 8 Tips to Keep Your Parking Lot in Good Shape

At Reliable Paving, we’ll be able to help you out no matter the state of your parking lot.

That said, it’s more important to us to save you money and make your life easier. We strongly advise performing regular general maintenance on your parking lot to extend its longevity as much as possible.

“That sounds expensive,” you think. Or maybe you think it sounds complicated. But it’s not. A clean and flawless parking lot is on the other side of these 8 tips. Not only will your lot stay in better condition longer, but the look of your overall property will benefit.

Here are our top 8 tips to maintain your parking lot in brag-worthy condition.


1. Seal-coat your parking lot

Asphalt deterioration is unavoidable. However, it can definitely be slowed down. Have your asphalt seal-coated between three and six months of its initial installation. Seal-coating for asphalt is where a professional paving company applies an overlay on the actual pavement. Not only does this give your asphalt a slick and flawless look, it also acts as a protective shell.

There are many factors in the regular deterioration of asphalt, including the sun, brutal temperature changes, tree roots crawling under—the list goes on. And all of these have the consequence of reducing the elasticity of the asphalt, allowing water to get in. With water filtration, cracks form, and cracks lead to potholes. Seal-coating your asphalt is an investment that results in savings later in repair and even accidents. Seal-coal your asphalt every three to five years for maximum protection.

Check out our seal coating service to get a free quote for your parking lot.


2. Perform efficient and regular clean-up

Removing dirt, leaves and debris from your parking lot on a schedule you can stick to will improve its physical aspect, prevent damage in the long term, and create an optimally safe space for the people using the space. By regularly cleaning up, you enable optimal water drainage, too, minimizing standing water on your lot along with the damage it causes.


3. Maintain proper drainage

Speaking of drainage issues, it’s your responsibility to the longevity and condition of your parking lot to make sure that drainage is working right. Proper drainage allows water to channel out of your parking lot, because standing water will allow moisture to seep into the asphalt and promote faster deterioration. Drainage directly affects your parking lot’s lifespan.


4. Repair cracks regularly

As soon as you note a crack on your parking lot, get it sealed. The longer you wait to have cracks repaired, the bigger the cracks will become. It’s simple science. By waiting, you face the risk of any one crack turning into a pothole. Not only do you save later by having a crack quickly sealed, you also preserve the natural elasticity of your parking lot. Moreover, cracks make your parking lot look ugly and unkempt, and they present a certain safety risk for pedestrians. Believe us—you would rather call a crack sealing professional now than rack up medical bills or complaints.

Check out our crack sealing service to get a free quote.


5. Look at the calendar—and repave if it’s been 10+ years

If you didn’t pay enough attention to the cracks in your parking lot in the past, and the state of your lot has gotten pretty bad, you might want to consider repaving. You might observe asphalt crumble in places. If this is the case, the only possible course is to repave. For any lots 10+ years out from their last reconstruction, the asphalt’s loss of elasticity will require this no matter the state of the surface.

Check out our asphalt paving to get a free quote for your parking lot.


6. Ensure a well-illuminated space

Hazards become exponentially more dangerous where there isn’t enough light, and that goes for your parking lot, too. Again, for safety reasons, make sure your parking lot is well-illuminated for visitors to the property. Lighting also helps in theft-prevention by allowing your security cameras to cover the whole area with usable footage in the case of a problem.


7. Regularly re-stripe when the paint fades

To make sure the users of your parking lot use it correctly when they park their vehicles, make sure your parking lot striping is clearly visible. Moreover, you should also make sure your parking lot is fully ADA compliant. That way, you enable an easier access to your facility to anyone who wishes to use it and avoid steep non-compliance fees later.

Check out our parking lot restriping service to get a free quote for your parking lot.


8. Invest in an efficient landscape

Consider adding design and landscaping features to your parking lot for better performance, too. Adding trees, plants and bushes around the edges or in raised curbs across the lot can add color and make it a more natural space for pedestrians to enjoy. In addition to the boosted appearance, landscaping also helps prevent soil erosion, reduce storm water damage, and reduce carbon dioxide in the area.


Maintaining your parking lot is a basic tenant of good property ownership. Not only is guaranteeing the security of the pedestrians using your parking lot your duty, but if you want to make the most out of your investment, this maintenance is in your own best interest. Pay close and regular attention to the state of your parking lot, starting with an inspection today. And if you do find something worth fixing, you know who to turn to. We’ll get you started with a free quote, just click below.