The Difference Between Asphalt and Bitumen

Often, people mistakenly use the words bitumen and asphalt to define the same thing. However, these two are quite different. Asphalt is a mixture of sand, aggregates, and bitumen. In asphalt, bitumen is used as a binder to hold together the asphalt, therefore asphalt is a concrete mixture whereas bitumen is binder or cement for pavements. It’s also common to have a pavement surface that has been sealed using bitumen only. When this is the case, a layer of bitumen is set up and topped with aggregates and the process is repeated to have two coats. If you are planning to resurface your driveway or pavement, you want to know the best solution between asphalt and bitumen. So, what is the difference?

Durability

Durability

Asphalt pavements tend to be more durable as they have a layer depth of about 22 to 40mm and can last for over 20 years. On the other hand, bitumen sealed surfaces or pavements are considered less durable. They have a layer depth of about 10 to 20mm and their lifespan is about 5 to 10 years. So, if you’re considering paving your surfaces, asphalt may offer a more durable pavement than bitumen sealed surface. It is important however to consider the location of the surface and its use. For low traffic and slow traffic areas, bitumen is a great, low cost alternative. For more hard-wearing surfaces such a roads, freeways and mining roadways, the investment for asphalt is more justified due to the higher durability.

More skid resistant

More skid resistant

Pavements made of asphalt are smoother and considered more skid resistant. This helps ensure the safety of drivers and reduce noise, hence why they are used for highways and roads. Bitumen surfaces make allow a noisier driving experience and tend to wear down tires contributing to safety issues which is why they are better suited to slower moving traffic and walking paths.

Level of friction

Level of friction

Asphalt reduces the friction between the vehicle and tires ensuring better consumption of fuel and reduced emission of carbon dioxide. On the flip side, bitumen causes higher friction resistance meaning there is less efficiency in fuel consumption.

Permeability

Permeability

Asphalt is considered an impermeable material. Pavements made of asphalt do not leach and therefore have a reduced chance of infiltration and pollution of the underground water. With bitumen, it allows leaching which may result in deterioration of soil as well as pollution of groundwater.

Sensitivity to temperature

Sensitivity to temperature

Asphalt tends to be less sensitive to temperature causing negative impacts in extremely low or high temperatures. Bitumen surfaces are susceptible to extreme temperatures that can make it soft and slick hence the weather conditions need to be considered when making the decision between asphalt and bitumen.

Cost of installation

Cost of installation

If you are looking for a cost-effective material, you may want to consider bitumen as your first choice. Installing asphalt pavements is comparatively costlier however, it does not require regular maintenance but rather routine check-ups. Bitumen, on the other hand, is cheaper to install, however, it will require regular maintenance which can increase the cost in the long term. You will need to resurface the pavements, especially if it receives high traffic. In the long term, you will find that bitumen is not cost-effective but rather a shorter-term solution.

In the end, the choice between bitumen and asphalt will depend on the circumstance in which it is being laid, inclusive of the budget, location, and usability. If the budget is lesser amount, bitumen is likely the better option as it is an estimated half the cost of full asphalt, whereas asphalt is more costly but more durable and hardwearing. For low traffic or slow traffic areas such as carparks and driveways, bitumen serves a great purpose whereas asphalt is the material of choice for highways, roads, and high traffic areas.

The most important thing to remember is to consult an expert in the field such as Road Seal Australia. With knowledge about what surface solution is going to be best for you, you know that you can trust Road Seal Australia. Contact them today for an obligation free quote.