Odd Culture

Asphalt? Bitumen? What is it made of? What is it used for?

posted by Chris Valentine

When it comes to road and driveway building, the materials asphalt and bitumen are often used, these hardy materials are the perfect products for infrastructure projects owing to their price and durability. Very often, bitumen is confused for asphalt and vice-versa, the two are indeed quite different and have altogether different uses. If you are looking at putting a driveway in your home or a pavement of some kind then it can be important to know the difference between the two. I recently had mine done and I was previously a little confused between the two materials, I spoke with a couple of bitumen contractors Sydney-based company North Shore paving sent out and they informed me of the great difference between the materials.


Today we are going to take a look at both materials, the difference between them, what they are made of and what they are used for.


What is it made of?

Asphalt is a man made material that comprises of sand and gravel that is sealed together at high temperatures with bituminous pitch. The plant which makes the asphalt will mix, heat and dry the mixture and when it is required to be used, the asphalt is placed in a paving machine on site to prepare it for use.

What is it used for?

The incredibly flexible asphalt is used in a whole range of different projects that will support transportation. These projects can be anything from roads, parking lots, driveways or airport runways. The price of asphalt and its ability to be easily repaired means that it is used far more frequently than something like concrete and it is the preferred choice for thousands of construction companies around the World.


What is it made of?

Bitumen is a naturally occurring product which is a by-product of refining oil, it is a black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons that is found in semi-solid form and dried to service many industries, primarily the construction industry. Bitumen is also known as pitch when it is used in the industry.

What is it used for?

Bitumen is used as a glue type substance when applied to other materials such as asphalt, its strong properties make it the perfect material to be used in construction and road building. Just over 70% of all bitumen use is for the construction of roads and the rest of its uses are for waterproofing various products, notably roof felt. When dried, bitumen is impenetrable to water which makes for a great waterproofing product. It is easy to see why bitumen is often confused with asphalt but in truth the bitumen merely serves to create a part of the asphalt which is the glue that holds it together and the final seal that goes on top of the road surface.

So there you have it, everything you wanted to know about the differences and uses between bitumen and asphalt. If you are looking at getting a driveway put in outside your home then it is important that you can understand the differences between the two when electing the material that you wish to use.

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