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Hot Mix and Cold Mix Asphalt: How They'reDifferent And When To Use Them

Asphalt is such a common and popular material that most of us assume we know what it is and move on. But did you know there are two different kinds of this paving material? Hot mix asphalt and cold mix asphalt are two fairly different materials, used in different circumstances and with different benefits.

First, let’s take a basic look at the main differences, and then let’s dive deeper into what the benefits and negatives are of each type so you’ll be confident in the correct usage for each type.

What You Need To Know About Hot Mix Asphalt

When you’re on the highway and you see construction crews pouring down asphalt, steam rising up off the freshly paved road, you’re looking at hot mix asphalt.

This type of asphalt requires it to be heated up before installation, hence the name. The mixture is made up of gravel, sand, and asphalt cement. When they first create this substance, they heat it up to 300to 350 degrees Farenheit before letting it cool and selling it to companies to be installed on highways or used on other job sites.

While the material is laid hot and soft, it dries and firms up quickly.

The most common usage for hot mix asphalt is large-scalepaving. When someone needs a new driveway, when highways need to be laid, or when parking lots need to be installed, hot mix asphalt is the right material for the job. It’s versatile, easy to use, and is the material that makes upAmerica’s roadways.

What You Need To Know About Cold Mix Asphalt

This is the most basic type of asphalt and a material more people are likely to end up purchasing for home use. This material could be purchased in a bag at the local hardware store. This material is mixed and then used while still cold, hence the name.

The more common usage for cold mix asphalt is for asphalt repairs. Small cracks and potholes are often corrected using cold mix asphalt.Also, when the weather is too cold for hot mix asphalt to be a viable solution, cold mix asphalt can be used for patches and repairs where hot mix may have been indicated in better weather. It may not last as long as the hot mixture depending on the situation, but cold mix asphalt can be the right solution under colder conditions.

Hot mix asphalt is stronger than cold mix and lasts longer. Cold mix asphalt is best used in small fixes and temporary patches.

The Benefits of Hot Mix Asphalt

It’s strong and durable. Cold mix asphalt would crumble if used on highways. Hot mix asphalt can withstand a lot of weight and difficult conditions.

It sets quickly. This means the hot mix asphalt can be installed and people can be driving on it again soon.

It’s resistance to weather conditions. This material really stands up to a variety of weather conditions. When roads flood or wind pulls at the material, it stays strong and steady. It also absorbs the heat from the sun, which means it helps melt snow and ice faster in the cold winter months.

Hot mix asphalt is flexible.This means the material will bend without breaking, which is part of what makes it such a durable choice. When temperatures shift or other difficult conditions test this type of asphalt and really put it through its paces, this material can shrink and expand while still holding together and staying the course.

The Downsides to Hot Mix Asphalt

It’s not cheap material.While concrete is still more expensive, it is the most expensive paving option for asphalt. When calculating this price however, you have to consider that it lasts longer. It may cost more in the long run to use a cheaper material but have to relay the pavement sooner.

It needs to be used quickly. Because the material sets so fast, you have a window of time to get the hot mix asphalt installed and set properly.

The Benefits of Cold Mix Asphalt

It’s an affordable choice.Not only is it less expensive per pound than hot mix asphalt, but you can purchase it in smaller quantities. For small patches, this is very convenient as far as purchasing options go.

Cold mix asphalt is perfect for cold weather. Sometimes, this is the superior choice, like when you can’t use hot mix asphalt in the cold winter months. Cold mix is then the best solution for filling potholes or performing other asphalt repairs.

The Downsides to Cold MixAsphalt

It’s a temporary solution.Cold mix asphalt isn’t going to last as long as hot mix asphalt, so while it’s perfect for doing repairs in the winter, you’ll have to repair the asphalt again shortly down the line.

When to Use Hot Mix Asphalt versus Cold Mix

By now, we’ve learned that both of these types of pavement solutions have their own benefits. There are different occasions where using one of these asphalt types over the other is the clear best solution. While cold mix doesn’t last as long, it can be installed in the cold weather months. While hot mix asphalt is long lasting and durable, it doesn’t always make sense for the problem presented, either financially or because of the weather. Now that you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of both hot mix asphalt and cold mix asphalt, you’ll be better prepared to use them properly on the job.


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