Bitumen vs Asphalt
What’s the difference between Asphalt and Bitumen? Should I use Bitumen or Asphalt?
Bitumen is actually the liquid binder that holds asphalt together. The term bitumen is often mistakenly used to describe asphalt.
A bitumen-sealed road has a layer of bitumen sprayed and then covered with an aggregate. This is then repeated to give a two-coat seal.
Asphalt is produced in a plant that heats, dries and mixes aggregate, bitumen and sand into a composite mix. It is then applied through a paving machine on site as a solid material at a nominated or required thickness, relative to the end use. Asphalt results in a smoother and more durable asphalt road surface than a bitumen-sealed road.
What is Bitumen?
Bitumen is a binding agent produced from petroleum. Bitumen is known for being strongly adhesive and resistant to damage from water and oil spills. This makes bitumen the ideal binder for asphalt because asphalt is commonly used as a surface for roads, car parks and driveways.
Bitumen can be produced to different specifications depending on how it’s going to be used but in all cases, bitumen is created by distilling crude oil. This process removes the lighter liquid and leaves a thick sticky substance that, in the case of asphalt, will hold heavy aggregate like stones and gravel with sand.
Bitumen can also be confused with tar, which is another binding agent that when mixed with aggregate, makes tarmac.
Common bitumen misspellings: bitumin, bitchumen, bitchamen, bichement, bichman, bitchamin, bitchemen, bitchimen, bitchimin, bitchman, bitchimum, bitchmen, bitchomen, bitchumin, bitcumen, or bituman.
What is the Difference Between Asphalt and Bitumen?
Bitumen is often misused as a term when describing asphalt and can be confusing for many people. In the UK, most people will say bitumen when describing an aggregate mixture of bitumen, stones or gravel and sand. In Australia, we call the mixture asphalt.
While bitumen is mostly used in a mixture, it can also be used as a binder for roads. So you may sometimes hear the term “bitumen road”. This refers to a layer or layers of bitumen that is used in the road to adhere or seal other layers.
Bitumen vs Asphalt, Which to Use?
If you’re looking to surface or resurface a driveway, car park, hardstand or commercial area, you need asphalt. Asphalt is a composite mixture that provides a durable and flexible surface for cars, heavy vehicles and machinery.
Bitumen is only used by commercial suppliers as a binder or sealant for other products.