How Does Asphalt Paving Work?

Many of the cities in the Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia areas are often regarded for their livability and landscaping, as well as their vast employment and entertainment opportunities. In fact, Arlington was listed as number 15 out of the 50 most livable cities in the US for 2017. So, what does paving have to do with this? If you think about it, paving plays a significant part in what makes these cities so successful. Without smooth roads, abundant parking lots, and sturdy driveways, commercial businesses and residential areas couldn’t be nearly as successful or aesthetically pleasing.

Taking all of this into consideration, before you get started on your new paving project, it’s important to know how the asphalt paving process works. Our experts here at A.B. Veirs & Sons are happy to walk you through the process so that you know exactly what to expect from your paving contractor.

1 . Site prep  This includes notifying the owner, tenant, resident, or customer about upcoming work, creating safety and traffic-flow plans, and having a pre-construction meeting to discuss the work to be done and any special concerns.

2. Demolition and removal of old material – This is different depending on whether it is new construction or rehab work. In new construction, this would include demolishing any existing structures or excavating an open area of vegetation where new paving will go. In rehab work, this may include things like cutting out broken asphalt in order to make base repairs to strengthen the final paving surface, or it may be just a matter of milling the surface of the existing asphalt to allow for a new surface to be paved. If cutting and removing broken asphalt, it is imperative to remove all of the broken asphalt to a full depth. It is common for some contractors to patch only partial depth in order to save costs, but this method is ineffective. Think about it like going to the dentist: you wouldn’t want your dentist just to scrape off part of a cavity—you need them to remove/clean the entire cavity before filling it in.

3. Grading – In new construction, this includes grading whatever material will be under the new asphalt (i.e., subgrade). This can be dirt if the specs call for that, but it is oftentimes stone. It is important to grade this subgrade with the exact contours that the new asphalt will have in order to make sure the asphalt is a consistent thickness throughout the entire project. It is also important to compact the subgrade so that the asphalt has a firm base to support it. In rehab work, grading mainly consists of milling. It is important to be cognizant of grades during milling to ensure there is positive water drainage on the new asphalt surface so that the new surface does not form water puddles.

4. Base – This is the base layer of asphalt and is usually the thickest layer. The anticipated traffic loads will dictate how thick the base layer should be.

5. Binder – This is sometimes used in new construction when there is a long time between when the initial roadwork starts and when the final surface is paved. The base asphalt is usually paved relatively early in the project, and the final surface paving is usually one of the last things to be completed. Base asphalt has larger stones, which makes it slightly porous. So, if base asphalt sits through a lot of weather or a cold winter, there could be damage to the asphalt before the project is even complete. A binder layer is a finer asphalt mix (the same mix as surface asphalt) that adds a waterproof layer to the paving without paving the final surface.

6. Final surface layer – This is the final surface or “topping.” It is usually 1.5 or 2 inches thick (depending on traffic loads) and is designed to provide smooth car rides, effective water runoff, traction, and cosmetic finish. Final compaction can be discussed at this stage—there is a typical target range for asphalt compaction. If it is not compacted enough, then there will be too many air voids and will deteriorate. If it is compacted too much, the asphalt won’t have any “give” and will become too brittle and crack. Things that affect compaction are the type of equipment used, quality of the mix, and the temperature of the asphalt during compaction. Cold weather is not good because asphalt needs to be hot and pliable to install properly.

7. Joints/transitions – These are areas where new pavement meets existing pavement or other structures. It is important that the edges of the joints are vertical so that the new asphalt gets full depth compaction. Asphalt should never be “feathered” out and always have a joint to contain the new asphalt, give strength to the edges of the new asphalt, and allow for a smooth transition.

Schedule Asphalt Paving in MD, DC & Northern VA

This general outline of the new asphalt paving process should help you understand what to expect once your paving contractor arrives at your site. In order for your project to go as smoothly as possible, you’ll want to hire professional paving contractors who know exactly what they’re doing. At A.B. Veirs & Sons, we guarantee that we’ll complete your paving project to the highest standards.

A.B. Veirs & Sons has been family owned and operated since 1947, and our commitment to quality today is greater than ever. Our employees are the best in the industry, and they take pride and ownership in every job they complete. By treating every project like it’s our own, we strive to achieve the highest level of quality and make every customer a happy one.

Do you want to learn more about how asphalt paving works, or are you ready to schedule your asphalt paving consultation now? Contact us online or call (301) 276-0886 today!