Asphalt and blacktop are often used interchangeably here in the United States. These two surface paving substances are alike in that both contain the same basic ingredients. However, understanding the difference between asphalt and blacktop is essential to ensure final satisfaction with the end project being planned.

Asphalt paving cost for a typical driveway is usually lower but will require more maintenance that is expensive to fix over time. On the other hand, a blacktop surfaced driveway may cost more initially but will usually require less maintenance that is also cheaper due to the ability to seal the blacktop, making it more durable and less likely to crack.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you. – Walt Whitman

What Are the Main Differences Between Asphalt & Blacktop?

Both asphalt and blacktop are made of two main ingredients: crushed stone and bitumen. Bitumen is a sticky, black byproduct of crude oil, and this substance is used to bind and hold the loose crushed stone particles together.

Asphalt can be mixed at a lower temperature of 250 degrees F, and blacktop is produced using higher temperatures to melt the bitumen that creates a stronger bond. Blacktop is usually heated during production at 300 degrees F.

The ratio of crushed stone and bitumen differs between these two common paving surface materials that produce a denser mix for blacktop that also takes on a shiner top surface.

The other main difference between these two paving materials involves what the product will be used to create. There are some general preferences for choosing one or the other of these materials based on what surface is being created and how it will be used over the years.

Types of Projects Typically Requiring Blacktop Paving

Building contractors, paving companies and the average homeowner often prefer one paving material over the other depending on what the job project is.

Common types of projects typically requiring blacktop include:

  • Residential or Business Driveways
  • Parking Lots
  • Basketball Court or Other Outdoor Sport Surface
  • Playgrounds
  • Paved Paths & Walkways in Parks or Around a Neighborhood
  • Roads or Streets

Types of Projects That Typically Require Asphalt Paving

Alternately, the types of projects that would typically require asphalt paving differs. These projects include:

  • Airport Runways
  • Major Highways, Freeways & Interstate Roadways
  • Reservoir or In-Ground Pool Lining
  • Used to Soundproof a Building or Space
  • Cable Coatings
  • Used to Damp-Proof

Key Differences in Maintaining Asphalt Versus Blacktop Surfaces

Asphalt and blacktop surfaces will have different maintenance requirements to keep it in good condition. Blacktop is more malleable making it an ideal choice in paving residential driveways, walkways and parking lots.

Asphalt is often the best choice for heavily trafficked main interstates but can easily crack due to weather temperature extremes. This surface paving material often cracks causing bumps, ruts, potholes and even sinkholes over time. Therefore, these roads generally require ongoing maintenance and resurfacing more often than blacktop streets do.

Blacktop will be denser with a greater bond that makes this material exceptionally durable and can be sealed with a protective sealant coat that lowers the frequency and amount of maintenance and upkeep chores.

The Costs for Blacktop Versus Asphalt Explained

Since blacktop does have different uses and ingredient ration giving it a different end result, the costs for blacktop versus asphalt paved surfaces will also differ.

Average Asphalt Driveway Cost

On average, a typical suburban driveway made of asphalt may cost less due to less amounts of stone in the surface created. However, there are other things to factor in when determining overall costs.

These factors include length and amount of asphalt needed for a job, the expected uses for the surface material along with labor and material expenses.

Asphalt is often used for non-traditional types of projects like soundproofing a space or lining a water containment area like a swimming pool liner or a water reservoir as just two examples.

Average Blacktop Driveway Cost

Blacktop contains more stone which creates a greater number of air pockets in the finished and dried surface. This can make the road slightly bumpy giving the surface greater traction which is ideal for driveways, walkways and parking lots where winter weather could cause surfaces to freeze and become treacherous to walk on.

That same higher density of stone and air pockets can also make the roads around residential neighborhoods a bit rough on the surface. Asphalt in general is waterproof, while blacktop will need to be sealed to get a waterproof effect. This also alters cost.

Choosing the Right Material For You 

Most homeowners choose a blacktop driveway over an asphalt one. Both surface materials are terrific choices for a wide range of building projects. Get qualified professional recommendations by a local company that offers paving jobs for a better idea of which material is right for your intended purposes.            

Contact a local company specialized in asphalt and blacktop paving and request a free quote for your project!


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