Compaction is probably the greatest determining factor in pavement performance when it comes to asphalt installation. Proper compaction allows asphalt to achieve the density and strength required to support the pavement’s anticipated traffic load and helps prevent various forms of damage that can significantly diminish pavement lifespan. 

Read on to learn all about why asphalt compaction is an integral component of any asphalt installation project.

What Does Asphalt Compaction Do?

The asphalt compaction process effectively locks together the asphalt cement and aggregate particles that together form the pavement. As the final step in the asphalt installation process, compaction creates a smooth surface and strong, durable pavement that’s capable of withstanding traffic load.

Overall, asphalt compaction increases density and removes excess air between the materials. 

The Process for Asphalt Compaction

There are three main steps of the asphalt compaction process. An experienced asphalt pavement company understands all of the skills and tools needed to handle asphalt compaction from beginning to end.

Here are the three phases of the process:

  1. Paver Screed Step: Using the paver screen, the asphalt becomes stronger and has increased load-carrying capabilities.

  2. Roller Compaction Step: Roller compaction is a major part of the process. One or more roller compactors are used to increase pavement density.

  3. Traffic Compaction Step: Lastly, compaction occurs over time by on-road vehicles. Traffic levels also determine the asphalt compaction installation process. Roads and highways will get more traffic compaction than lesser-used areas.

Benefits of Asphalt Compaction

Now that you understand what asphalt compaction is and how the process works, it’s important to note the benefits of proper asphalt compaction. Let’s review some of these advantages below.

Compaction Helps Minimize Fatigue-Related Pavement Damage

Properly designed, structurally sound asphalt pavement should be capable of withstanding considerable long-term fatigue. And while pavement thickness and the strength of the sub-base and subgrade layers factor into the pavement’s fatigue life, air voids play a central role in estimating fatigue life, too.

Several studies have concluded that for each 1% increase in air void content over the maximum acceptable range, the pavement can experience a fatigue life reduction of up to 10%.

Proper Compaction Helps Minimize Moisture Damage

Air voids in compacted asphalt pavement tend to connect to one another, and the greater the volume of air voids, the easier it becomes for water to permeate the pavement’s surface. When water penetration occurs, moisture will gradually degrade the aggregate base layers beneath the asphalt surface.

Ultimately, the asphalt will grow weaker and less capable of supporting traffic load. Raveling, stripping, and softness may result.

What’s more, in Minnesota, frigid temperatures can also cause water to freeze and expand beneath the surface of the pavement. This can cause significant cracking, and with freeze-thaw cycles, frost heave damage may also occur.

Testing Asphalt Pavement for Compaction

At BR, our trained technicians have experience handling every step of the traffic compaction process. Our employees use many different testing methods.

One of the primary ways we test asphalt pavement for compaction is by using a nuclear density gauge. This tool can measure compaction levels during the installation process. This allows the technician to tell the equipment operator if the compaction needs to increase.

After the initial installation process, samples from the asphalt are sent to a lab. At the lab, the asphalt is analyzed to check for the compaction levels.

BR: Your Twin Cities Source for Premium Asphalt Paving Services

If you’re planning an asphalt paving project, get in touch with our team at Bituminous Roadways, Inc. for a consultation and estimate. For more than 75 years, we’ve specialized in a wide variety of asphalt paving services, including parking lot paving, road paving, trail and pathway paving, and much more.

Our expertise in the industry ensures you get the highest quality finished asphalt project, and our entire team is committed to your total satisfaction. To discuss your project with our experts, call our office today at 651-686-7001 or request a free consultation, and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.