Paving 101 | J McDonald Contracting

Paving 101

The world of paving is filled with a wide array of technical terms and industry jargon that can often leave people scratching their heads in confusion. From asphalt to sealcoating, understanding the language of the paving industry can be essential for making informed decisions and effectively communicating with professionals in the field. In this article, we will demystify some common paving industry terminology, shedding light on the language that drives this vital sector.


At the heart of the paving industry lies the term “asphalt.” Asphalt is a dark, sticky substance that serves as the primary ingredient in the production of roads, parking lots, and other paved surfaces. Derived from petroleum, asphalt is combined with aggregate materials to create durable and smooth pavements.


Sealcoating is a protective layer applied to asphalt surfaces to safeguard them from the elements, including UV radiation, water penetration, and chemicals. This process helps to extend the lifespan of the pavement and maintain its appearance. By filling surface voids and minimizing oxidation, sealcoating plays a crucial role in preventing cracks and deterioration.


The subbase refers to the layer of aggregate material placed beneath the asphalt surface. It serves as a foundation, providing stability, support, and drainage for the pavement. A well-constructed subbase is essential for ensuring the longevity and structural integrity of the paved surface.


An overlay involves applying a new layer of asphalt over an existing pavement. This method is commonly used to rejuvenate worn-out surfaces with minor cracks and surface deterioration. By adding a fresh layer of asphalt, the overlay enhances the appearance and functionality of the pavement, extending its lifespan.


Milling is the process of removing the top layer of an asphalt surface to address significant pavement distress or to create a smooth base for an overlay. Specialized milling machines are used to grind and remove the damaged or deteriorated asphalt, allowing for the application of a new layer.

Crack Sealing

As asphalt ages, cracks may develop due to changes in temperature, moisture, or heavy traffic. Crack sealing involves filling these cracks with a specialized sealant, which helps to prevent water infiltration and further damage. This maintenance practice is essential for preserving the structural integrity of the pavement.


Stripping, also known as debonding, occurs when the bond between the asphalt and the aggregate weakens or fails. This issue is often caused by poor adhesion, moisture, or the presence of contaminants. Stripping can lead to accelerated pavement deterioration, reduced skid resistance, and increased maintenance costs.

ADA Compliance

ADA compliance refers to adherence to the guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the construction and modification of accessible pavements, walkways, and parking lots. This includes features such as proper slopes, accessible parking spaces, crosswalks, and detectable warning surfaces for the visually impaired.

Navigating the world of paving can be challenging, given the abundance of technical terms and industry-specific jargon. However, by familiarizing yourself with key paving industry terminology, you can better understand the processes, communicate effectively with professionals, and make informed decisions regarding your pavement needs. From asphalt and sealcoating to overlay and milling, this article has shed light on some of the fundamental terms that shape the paving industry. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently embark on your next paving project or engage in meaningful discussions about maintaining and improving your paved surfaces.

If you want to work with a trusted local paving contractor with the know-how and experience to install and maintain your driveway or parking lot contact J. McDonald Contracting today!