While the terms “blacktop” and “asphalt” might be used synonymously by some, they are not actually the same. The reason for this confusion might stem from the fact that the two are made of the same ingredients. However, the measurements of each ingredient, along with other factors, are among the key differences and what makes them suitable for distinct applications.
Let’s take a look at asphalt vs. blacktop and what makes each material appropriate for separate projects.
Similarities Between Blacktop and Asphalt
Before we talk about the differences between blacktop and asphalt, we need to identify the qualities they share. There is a reason that people use the terms blacktop and asphalt interchangeably, and that is because they have quite a few similarities. Here are the qualities that overlap between the two:
- Ingredients – Blacktop and asphalt are composed of crushed stone and bitumen. These ingredients are mixed together prior to being poured.
- Quality – Both blacktop and asphalt are able to perform with reliability and durability through many repaving jobs.
- Quick-drying – Concrete is known to need an extensive drying process before it can safely withstand the weight of a car. However, asphalt and blacktop can be driven on much sooner than concrete, making them convenient for projects that need to be completed on a tighter timeline.
- Physical look – Another reason that people confuse blacktop and asphalt is that they look so similar. They both appear black or dark gray, depending on the point in their useful life.
The Differences Between Asphalt and Blacktop Composition
Now let’s discuss blacktop and asphalt differences. As mentioned above, the biggest difference between asphalt and blacktop is their composition. While they both use the same ingredients, they have different temperature fluctuations and mixture ratios.
Blacktop incorporates natural stones, giving it the sparkly finish you might recognize. It contains a higher stone-to-bitumen ratio that explains this appearance. When it is made, the blacktop mixture undergoes higher temperatures that allow it to be bent easily after pouring. This quality makes it less prone to harsh cracks as long as you regularly sealcoat it.
However, asphalt is made a little differently. It relies on refined fossil fuels (specifically petroleum) that create a thick substance. Then, crushed stones are added to act as a cutting agent. Asphalt is mixed at a slightly lower temperature than blacktop, as the mixture would be ruined if it underwent higher temperatures. The outcome is a durable surface that can handle heavy traffic and weight.
Asphalt vs. Blacktop: Ideal for Different Projects
The next difference between asphalt and concrete is the applications they are each best suited for. Read on to see how they benefit different types of projects.
Applications for Blacktop
Blacktop is known to be more of a customer-friendly surface since it is easier to maintain and does not get as much traffic. It is commonly found in the following projects:
- Driveways and parking lots
- Playgrounds and basketball courts
- Paved pathways (parks, neighborhoods, etc.)
The reason that blacktop is favored for projects like these is that it is simpler to repair than asphalt and does not crack as easily. It can be bent and manipulated for small repairs because of its malleable quality. Additionally, you can see that none of these applications involve intense weight capacity like those found below for asphalt. For this reason, it can last longer and be more cost-effective in the long run.
Another reason that blacktop is used over asphalt is due to its aesthetic qualities. For example, you would probably care more about what your driveway looks like than you would a freeway.
Applications for Asphalt
On the other hand, asphalt is a little more durable since it has the ability to withstand harsh conditions. Additionally, asphalt is water-resistant, a quality that blacktop does not possess.
While not limited to the following applications, asphalt is used most often for projects like:
- Freeways, highways, and other major roads
- Airport runways
- Pool linings
Another unique quality of asphalt is that it can be utilized for sound dampening or cable coating, which shows its versatility. The fact that it can be used in applications that don’t involve paving is another major difference between asphalt and blacktop.
Benefits of Using Each Material
Now that we’ve gone over the two main differences between asphalt and blacktop, let’s look at the advantages of each material.
Asphalt is known to withstand the elements better than blacktop. Additionally, it features the following qualities that make it ideal for certain projects:
- Smoothness – The composition of asphalt has fewer crushed stones than that of blacktop. This means that the composition is smoother and produces less noise when tires make contact with it. Additionally, the material won’t create as much wear and tear on cars, shoes, bikes, and motorcycles.
- Durability – When compared to blacktop, asphalt has a higher bitumen content and is less porous. This means that it can withstand heavier loads over a longer period of time. In addition, it is better for areas with heavy traffic or even static machinery that sits in place for extended amounts of time.
Of course, blacktop has advantages of its own as well:
- Safety – While asphalt has a smooth surface, blacktop features a rough one. This rough surface provides a better grip for tires and shoes, making it ideal for places where children play or where pedestrians frequent, since accidents, both personal and vehicular, can be reduced.
- Malleability – Since blacktop is more flexible, it does not crack as easily as asphalt does. This means it can be repaired with a smaller budget.
Products for Repairing Asphalt and Blacktop
Last but not least, thoroughly exploring blacktop and asphalt differences means understanding the products that are used during the paving and repair process. Since blacktop and asphalt have similar compositions, some of the products we offer can be used for either surface. Be sure to read on to find out what is likely to work best in your project.
Here are some of our favorite products for repairing blacktop and asphalt.
- INTEGRA-SEAL® Asphalt Sealer – Our INTEGRA-SEAL® product is a professional-grade pavement sealer that protects aging asphalt while reducing the amount of harmful scents emitted into the atmosphere. This product is used for sealing an asphalt or blacktop surface.
- KOLD-FLO® Pourable Crack Filler – This modified asphalt emulsion product fills and seals cracks in any asphalt surface like roads and more. It can be used for either asphalt or blacktop surfaces.
- UPM Cold Mix® – Our cold mix is more suited for asphalt surfaces, as it is used as a permanent solution for those looking to fill roads. It is designed to reduce potholes and unwanted road damage, as well as hold up through all weather conditions.
Contact Us with Any Questions
Evaluating asphalt vs. blacktop can be a challenging part of deciding what is going to be best in your project, but that is why we are here to help.
Be sure to reach out with any questions you have about asphalt and blacktop differences or the products used to effectively repair them.