Common Asphalt & Paving Terms Explained

Whether you are a business owner or a homeowner, it is almost inevitable that you will need to have a surface paved at some point. It can be tough to make sense of all of the jargon you may hear while consulting with a paving company. Today, we will quickly explain many of the common paving terms you are bound to hear in the paving industry. Keep reading to find out more. 


Asphalt is probably the first term that comes to mind when you think of paving. It can be found all over the world in parking lots and on roads. Despite this image you have of asphalt, many people are surprised to know that asphalt is a naturally occurring liquid. It is only after it is mixed with sand or gravel that it can be used as a surfacing agent.

Concrete is the second biggest paving surface agent. It too is a liquid material, but it is derived from gravel, sand, water, and cement that dries to stone. 

Aggregate is the base layer for all concrete surfaces. It is made from crushed stone, sand, and gravel which makes it very sturdy. Similarly, the subgrade is an area of soil that has been prepared to support new pavement installations.

The base is the materials installed after the subgrade. The base is made up of stone, sand, or gravel and it is what the asphalt will be physically paved onto.

Once the asphalt has been applied to the base, a primer will be used to seal the subgrade and base. This greatly increases the bond between the asphalt and base.

A sealant is also applied to the asphalt itself for added protection and improved natural color. 

Common Terms

If an asphalt surface has received years of abuse from vehicles and the elements it may be alligatoring. Alligatoring is used to reference an asphalt surface that has lots of cracks in one area, making it look like the skin of an alligator.

Another issue an old surface can have is a base failure. A base failure normally results in a pothole.

In either of these cases, a paver splitter will be used to break up areas of the old pavement. Paver splitters come in multiple forms such as handheld jackhammers for smaller areas and machine-operated splitters for large areas.

If either of these problems keeps reoccurring you may consider adding a joint sand stabilizer to prevent water seepage, loosening of materials, and plant growth. 

Our Services

Looking for a new asphalt parking lot or have questions on aftercare? Pro-Pave, Inc. is a premier commercial concrete and asphalt paving company serving general contractors, property managers, and HOAs in the Mid-Atlantic. We are Class A-licensed, VDOT-certified, and fully bonded/insured for jobs of all sizes. 

We work with many commercial clients, including federal, state, and local governments; commercial property owners; K-12 schools; higher education institutions; military groups; retail stores; and more.

Visit our website or contact us to learn more about our services.

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