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The intricate tapestry of Houston’s roads and parking spaces is woven with a material steeped in history and innovation—asphalt. This is the story not just of a construction material, but rather of civilization’s partner in urban progress. It’s a story best told by Houston’s premier asphalt paving specialists—AAA Paving, whose commitment to marrying time-honored practices with cutting-edge techniques has positioned them at the forefront of the commercial asphalt paving industry.

For over half a century, AAA Paving has been shaping Houston’s landscape, creating a reliable platform for the city’s dynamic growth. By combining high-quality materials and a craftsman’s precision, AAA Paving has built a reputation for excellence and durability over the decades. Read along as we discuss five facts you probably didn’t know about asphalt paving.

Fact 1: Asphalt is actually ancient

Before the widespread use of asphalt in road construction, several ancient civilizations employed a variety of materials and methods to create their thoroughfares. For example, the Romans were renowned for their network of roads, many of which were built with layers of sand, gravel, and tightly fitted paving stones known as ‘basoli’. The Greeks also used stone and gravel for their roadways. Prior to these developments, in regions such as Mesopotamia, simple paths often evolved from frequently traveled routes between important locations, which could be packed earth, and sometimes enhanced with logs, also known as corduroy roads, in wetter areas to prevent sinking. Each civilization’s approach to road-building was influenced by the materials at their disposal and the necessity of connecting their empire for commerce, military, or administrative purposes.

Asphalt’s earliest historical applications date back to the era of Mohenjo-Daro, one of the major urban settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization, which thrived around 2600 BCE, where it was used as a mortar in construction. Composed of complex hydrocarbons and minor elements, it was used in building durable and water-resistant structures.

Fact 2: Crude oil revolutionized asphalt

The transformation of asphalt from its naturally occurring state to the refined petroleum product we utilize today is a story of innovation and adaptation. In its natural form, asphalt—also known as bitumen—was a sticky, semi-solid substance that seeped up through the earth’s crust, primarily in areas where oil deposits were close to the surface. Civilizations like the ancient Sumerians used this natural bitumen for waterproofing and as an adhesive; its most notable application perhaps was in the construction of the Babylonian walls.

However, as society’s needs grew more complex, the demand for a more versatile and consistently performing material led to the birth of modern asphalt paving. The Industrial Revolution paved the way for technological advancements that enabled the distillation of crude oil, producing asphalt with controlled properties and reliable performance. This marked the transition from the use of naturally found bitumen to the petroleum-based asphalt that is used extensively in today’s paving industry.

Modern asphalt offers a remarkable range of consistencies and is engineered for specific conditions and purposes. It’s designed to withstand heavy traffic, extreme weather, and a variety of environmental conditions, making it an ideal material for the commercial infrastructure of burgeoning metropolises like Houston. Asphalt’s ability to be recycled further reflects the material’s adaptability to modern sustainability standards—old asphalt can be milled and reused, reducing the need for new materials and the environmental impact of road construction.

Fact 3: There are many different types of asphalt

The realm of asphalt encompasses a variety of types, each tailored to meet specific industrial needs, particularly in scenarios that require resilience to high temperatures. Specialty asphalts like Gilsonite, a naturally occurring, solid hydrocarbon bitumen, and wurzilite, possess intrinsic qualities that make them highly valuable in niche applications. Gilsonite, with its unique hardness and high melting temperature, is a sought-after additive in asphalt mixes for roads that must endure heavy-duty traffic and high temperatures. It enhances the durability and strength of the asphalt, thereby prolonging the lifespan of road surfaces.

Wurzilite, another specialized form of asphalt, is also recognized for its temperature-resistant properties. It’s particularly useful in industrial applications where thermal resistance is crucial, such as in the manufacturing of roofing materials where it helps in weatherproofing, adding longevity and resilience against the elements.

These specialty asphalts are mined much like other minerals and are processed to be utilized in various products. Their heat-resistant characteristics are indispensable for creating materials that must withstand not just the rigors of temperature fluctuations but also the wear and tear of industrial activities.

Fact 4: Asphalt is used for more than just road paving

Asphalt’s role in modern construction and engineering extends far beyond its primary use in paving. Its intrinsic waterproofing and adhesive qualities have made it an essential component in various construction materials and protective applications. One of the most common non-paving uses of asphalt is in the roofing industry, where it is a critical material in the manufacture of shingles. Asphalt shingles are favored for their durability, cost-effectiveness, and ease of installation, making them a popular choice for residential and commercial buildings alike.

Beyond roofing, asphalt’s waterproof nature is utilized in creating damp-proof coatings for foundations and as a lining for water reservoirs, where it ensures that water stays uncontaminated and prevents leaks into surrounding soils. The material’s ability to create a seamless barrier against moisture is paramount in preserving the integrity of structures and the environment.

In the realm of acoustic engineering, asphalt’s sound-dampening properties are harnessed to reduce noise pollution. It’s employed in the creation of soundproofing panels and underlayments that diminish sound transmission in buildings and along highways, contributing to a more pleasant and quieter urban atmosphere.

Further, asphalt’s adaptability to different conditions and its ability to bind with various aggregates have led to innovations in its formulations, enhancing its applications even further. These continuous improvements are a testament to the material’s flexibility and have cemented its status as a cornerstone in the development and maintenance of modern infrastructure.

Fact 5: Asphalt applications are evolving

Asphalt application has seen a remarkable evolution, reflecting human ingenuity and the constant quest for improvement. Initially used for dust suppression, creating simple paths and waterproofing vessels, asphalt has now advanced to sophisticated surfacing that incorporates complex polymer modifications and tailored aggregate compositions. These advancements have transformed road construction from a mundane task to a precise science that combines engineering acumen with aesthetic sensitivity.

In the past, the application of asphalt involved relatively straightforward methods that did not differ significantly from one project to another. However, today’s asphalt surfacing techniques are multifaceted, often involving a suite of tests to determine the most suitable mix and application method for each specific situation. Innovations such as stone matrix asphalt and porous asphalt have been developed for their unique properties, such as high durability and permeability, which can help with issues like noise reduction and water drainage.

Moreover, the integration of recycled materials into new asphalt mixtures is a testament to the material’s adaptable nature. Recycled tire rubber, plastic, and even reclaimed asphalt pavement are now commonly used in creating new road surfaces, making asphalt not just versatile but also a more environmentally friendly option. The material’s ability to be recycled and reused aligns with modern sustainability goals and circular economy principles.


Asphalt is more than a surface material; it’s the very sinew that binds Houston’s infrastructure, silently supporting the city’s constant pulse. Asphalt has, indeed, come a long way from its early uses, evolving into a high-performance material that facilitates contemporary life’s mobility and connectivity. For businesses across Houston seeking reliable commercial asphalt paving, AAA Paving is the trusted partner, ensuring a smooth journey ahead, paved with quality, sustainability, and aesthetic value. Our commitment to excellence isn’t just about laying asphalt—it’s about laying the groundwork for Houston’s thriving future.

AAA Paving: Houston’s Best Asphalt Paving Service

AAA Paving stands as your partner and advocate for quality commercial asphalt paving services in Houston, TX. We appreciate the immense responsibility that comes with delivering a well-executed asphalt paving job. That’s why we prioritize building a solid foundation of trust and excellence for our clients. Need help with a commercial asphalt service? We are here to help – Get your quote today.

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  • Speight, J. G. (2016). The Chemistry and Technology of Petroleum (Fifth Edition). CRC Press.