Brewery Lane, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

North East Paving And Gardens is community supported. We may earn a small commission through links on this page - Read More

What Are The 3 Types Of Asphalt?

Asphalt is one of the most popular driveway materials for many reasons, not least because the cost for asphalt driveway is afforable for many, but did you know there are different types?

What are the 3 types of asphalt? The three main types of Asphalt are hot mix, warm mix and cold mix; this post will reveal the differences between them and what situations they can be used. 

We’ve worked with asphalt more times than we care to remember and we’ve learned that having the proper knowledge about what you are working with makes all the difference to the end result.

Types Of Asphalt Grades 

Asphalt is graded on the bitumen binder’s flexibility, which is decided by temperature because it’s a thermoplastic material. The test registers the depth to which a needle penetrates under specific test conditions. Lower penetration (pen) bitumens are harder and have a higher softening temperature.

The most commonly used grade in the UK is 100/150 pen bitumen. However, a 40/60 pen is often used for roads with heavy traffic and 160/220 is sometimes preferred for hand laying as it is a lot easier to apply. If you are not sure about Asphalt, see our guide on what lasts longer concrete or asphalt so you can make an informed decision.

Hot Asphalt 

HMA or hot mix asphalt, as it is also known, consists of an aggregate and a binder. For a uniform combination, the mixture must be heated to a high temperature of 150 – 190 degrees hence the name. 

This type of asphalt is poured at a temperature of 150 ℃ and is not suitable for extremely cold climates as it becomes difficult to work with. Due to this, people often ask us can asphalt be laid in winter? We put together a guide to explain whether it’s possible.

After pouring, the surface is compacted with a roller to produce a smooth, weather-resistant finish. Whilst this kind of asphalt is the most durable, the amount of greenhouse gases it produces is the biggest drawback. 

Warm Mix Asphalt 

Warm mix asphalt is heated to 100 – 140 ℃, slightly lower than HMA. This temperature reduction can be achieved in three ways: 

  • Using organic additives
  • Chemical additives,
  • Water foaming techniques.

This process has several advantages over hot mix asphalt

  • Fewer emissions and less energy consumption make the warm mix more beneficial for the planet
  • WMA often costs less as it takes less time to produce 
  • The performance is just as good as hot mix asphalt 
  • WMA cools faster, meaning less time before you can use the driveway

Cold Mix Asphalt

The third and final category is cold mix asphalt (CMA). As the name suggests is not heated and is often used in colder climates where HMA can’t be applied. Asphalt such as MC cold mix requires time to cure, unlike hot mixes, resulting in a softer pavement and a much shorter lifespan.

Cold mix is the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly asphalt option. Still, it is mainly used for repairs and patching due to its lower performance level, increased voids and lack of durability. 

That being said, much research is going into improving the performance of cold mix asphalt. We’re looking forward to future technological advances which make this option a winner.

UPM

UPMⓇ asphalt is a high-quality cold mixture that can be used to repair larger potholes and cracks. It can be used in any weather at any time of year, requires no special machinery and is easy to use. 

FAQs 

What is the best grade of asphalt?

There is no best grade of asphalt; each has its benefits and a lot depends on the climate and how you will use it. 100/150 pen is the most widely used for landscaping applications. Lower pen grades are most commonly used for highways with heavy traffic.   

What type of asphalt is best for driveways?

The best type of asphalt for driveways is a hot mix. It is robust enough to withstand freezing, is relatively low maintenance, and cheap.

Can I put new asphalt over old asphalt?

Yes, you can put new asphalt on top of old asphalt and resurfacing is a fantastic option if your driveway is looking a little worse for wear and it can increase the lifespan of your driveway by around 10-15 years. 

However, if your drive suffers from large potholes, it’s probably best to renew the driveway completely. 

Last Word 

So there you have it. All you need to know about the three main types of asphalt – hot, warm, and cold. Whilst cold mix asphalt is not as durable and only used to patch and repair, the other two can be used for full installations.

Each has its own specifications using various sized aggregates, chemical additives and binders and is graded by stiffness. Still, the main difference is obviously the temperature at which it is mixed together. 

Asphalt is a reliable surface for pavements, roads and driveways but which type you use depends on the size of the project and how durable you need it to be.