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Why Is Temperature Monitoring Essential In Asphalt Paving?

Key Takeaways:

  • Asphalt paving is a process that requires careful temperature control for the best results.
  • If the asphalt is too cold, it can be challenging to work with and may not adhere properly to the surface.
  • If the asphalt is too hot, it can become soft and pliable, making it difficult to achieve a smooth, even surface.
  • Two of the most critical factors in a successful asphalt paving job are ambient air and ground temperature.

From roadway construction to personal driveways and pavements, asphalt paving is integral to infrastructures. When laying down asphalt, a few factors are essential to consider when it comes to ensuring a high-quality, long-lasting paving job. One of the most critical aspects is asphalt temperature.

Atkins Paving will help you understand the significance of temperature in asphalt paving. Let’s start.

Why is Temperature Important for Asphalt?

Asphalt pavement is made up of asphalt binder, gravel, and other materials. When these ingredients are heated and mixed, they create a hot mix of asphalt (HMA). The HMA is then used to pave roads, parking lots, and driveways.

The asphalt binder is the glue that holds the pavement together and is the most critical ingredient in the mix. The binder starts to degrade and harden as it cools, so it’s essential to keep the mix hot until it is placed.

If the mix cools too much, it won’t be easy to compact and will not perform well. The compound can also be too hot, which can cause the asphalt to bleed through the pavement surface.

Temperatures to Consider

When it comes to the question “which temperature is best for laying asphalt?” there are mainly two temperatures to consider: the temperature of the mix itself and the ambient air temperature.

An essential thing to consider is which kind of asphalt you are dealing with. The following are some types of asphalt:

Cold Mix Asphalt

In this kind of asphalt, the binder is an emulsion instead of a petroleum-based cutback. This is why it can be used in colder weather because the emulsion doesn’t need to be heated as much as a cutback would.

Cold Mix Asphalt

Warm Mix Asphalt

This kind of asphalt uses additives that allow it to be laid at lower temperatures, which helps to cut down on emissions from the process.

Hot Mix Asphalt

This is the kind of asphalt that most people are familiar with. It is made with a petroleum-based binder and needs to be kept hot to lay it down.

When it comes to asphalt temperature monitoring, there are four important considerations. We will tackle each one in turn.

1. The Mixture Temperature

An asphalt mix comprises three main ingredients – the asphalt binder, the aggregate, and other usable additives. The mixture is created in the asphalt processing plant, and the temperature at which this happens will affect the result.

The plant maintains the asphalt temperature at 284 – 350 degrees at this point. Once the paving process begins, the contained asphalt is still too hot to work with.

The mix is transported from the plant to the worksite during this time. During transit, the asphalt temperature begins to drop. By the time it arrives at its destination, it will have cooled to between 230 – 275 degrees.

2. The Paving Process

At the worksite, the paving process can now begin. During the process, the temperature of asphalt is maintained at 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Without the appropriate temperature, the asphalt may fail to compress correctly, resulting in an uneven and unstable surface.

3. Ambient Air Temperature

It is also essential for you to consider the ambient air temperature. If you’re wondering what that is, ambient air temperature is the surrounding area’s temperature. If the temperature is too cold, then the asphalt will not be able to bind to the surface correctly and may result in a poor quality finish.

In other words, if the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your asphalt will be a failure. Checking the weather forecast is critical to a successful asphalt paving job.

4. Pavement Surface Temperature

Also known as base temperature, it is as vital to consider as the ambient air temperature. If the pavement surface is too cold, it can also result in a poor asphalt bind.

Like base temperature, a rule of thumb is that the pavement temperature should also be a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Asphalt contractors have specialized equipment that can measure these temperatures for you.

5. Asphalt Paving Tool Temperatures

As surprising as it may sound, the temperature of your tools also needs to be monitored. If they are too cold, it can result in a lower quality finish and a shorter lifespan of your tools.

As you already know, asphalt is a very temperature-sensitive material. Bringing it in contact with freezing tools can cause the asphalt to stiffen and crack. As a rule of thumb, you should ensure your asphalt paving tools are at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit before you use them.

6. How to Ensure Smooth Asphalt Paving

To get nothing but the best, trust an asphalt contractor that uses cutting-edge technology in all aspects of their work, from the initial site assessment to the asphalt pavement installation.

You should ensure the contractor has adequate experience installing asphalt pavement in all types of settings and weather conditions. Having command over aspects such as earthmoving, compaction, drainage, and grading and being updated with the latest industry techniques will help them deliver quality results.

Learn more about protecting your pavement with sealcoating!

Final Thoughts

Asphalt paving is a complex process that must be done correctly to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians. One crucial step in the paving process is temperature monitoring.

Temperature monitoring ensures that the pavement is not too hot or too cold when installed. If the asphalt pavement is too hot, it can cause damage to the surface. If it is too cold, it can cause cracking and other problems. Temperature monitoring helps contractors achieve the right mix of temperatures for paving success.

Your Reliable Paving Contractor in Rock Hill, SC

Atkins Paving, serving Rock Hill, SC, is your partner when it comes to asphalt paving. We are a full-service paving company specializing in residential, commercial, and industrial projects. We can professionally pave your driveway, parking lot, or other asphalt surfaces with the highest precision. 

Get a free estimate now.