Types of Pavement

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When beginning any construction project, every detail should be taken into account to ensure that it is built successfully. Every aspect is researched from the ground to the conditions it will be exposed, the materials used to carry it out and even the different solutions to ensure that it is more sustainable. However, rarely do we stop to think about the elements that make up our civil buildings or homes, despite the fact that they are used within our society on a daily basis.


When setting up a project of this calibre, one essential feature to be considered should be the type of pavement used. Just like many other elements within the construction process, not all pavements are used for the same purpose and it is not a decision that should be made lightly. The type of pavement chosen needs to be adapted to the type of ground in the area and to purpose it will serve.


What Do We Mean by Pavement?


According to its architectural definition, pavement refers to the horizontal base used to construct the flooring of any construction or surface that is not naturally part of the ground. Different elements or materials are used depending on its intended purpose and therefore completing the construction of what we call flooring. This means, layers of material will be layered on the ground and afterward slab, rock, asphalt, concrete, bricks or other material will be placed on top. In general, pavement is structured by an initial subbase, base and finally a surface layer.


Civil engineering refers to pavement as the material used to pave streets, walkways and other transportation pathways that are used daily within our society. Construction that uses resistant pavement is essential for avoiding large amounts of accidents caused by road deterioration. As a result, in recent years, new pavements have been designed that only damage the surface layer due to continual traffic. This ultimately saves structural problems that can affect roadway safety.


History of Pavement and the Materials Used


From a historical point of view, roads built by the Romans within the Roman Empire are considered to be the origin of the roads and roadways we have today. These roads were created to facilitate travel and transportation between cities, making this the first system of roads that all led to the capital, Rome, as the central location. For many years, the roads continued to expand and some are still conserved today in near perfect condition. Stone was first used to construct these roads, followed by granite pavers and later sett concrete pavers.


Asphalt and concrete mixes are among the most commonly used today as they are highly resistant and perfect for roads. Moreover, in recent years, the construction industry has become more conscious of the importance of sustainable construction. For this reason, businesses look for more environmental alternatives, such as the combining asphalt with powdered rubber taken from recycled tires or noxer blocks, a product that absorbs the contamination produced by cars. Pavement should be resistant to damage meteorological phenomena and water.


Types of Pavement Used Indoors and Outdoors


Below is a list of the different types of pavement found outdoors, especially in civil works:

  • Rigid concrete pavement: This is placed on top of and supported by a previous layer of material composed of concrete slab. That layer sits upon an initial layer of compacted earth called subgrade. It is characterised by its resistance and rigidity, in addition to be cost efficient. Among the more common structural elements found within this type of pavement are expansion joints. These are used to calculate the dimensions of the pavement slabs and control the possible formation of intermediate fissures. Steel pins and distribution bars are used to reduce the risk of cracks forming and improve the transfer of loads between slabs. They do not require maintenance and they are usually found in industrial work areas and cities as well as motorways and urban highways.


  • Flexible asphalt pavement: This type of pavement is malleable, meaning that it is flexible. It is structured by a thin layer of an asphalt mix built on top of a base layer and another subbase layer, which rests on the subgrade. It is principally meant for high transit areas such as roadways, streets, parks, etc. The surface may be made of bituminous treatments or bituminous concrete, so that it withstands maximum strength and all types of weather conditions.


  • Articulated Pavement: This can usually be found on streets, bridges or pedestrian walkways and are also considered flexible pavement. The surface is made up of sett paving that transmits the tension caused by friction between them. They are placed on top of a layer of sand, which requires very little machinery and allows for it to be used as soon as work has been completed. They are slip-resistant and perfect for curves and slopes, as well as very resistant and flexible.


  • Semi-rigid Pavement: This is also known as composite pavement, which combines both the flexible and rigid characteristics with the flexible layer being placed on top. They are usually made up of concrete that has been covered in a layer of concrete treated with asphalt. It can withstand large and heavy loads such as planes and trucks.


It is also important to differentiate the types of pavement found in other types of constructions, such as those aimed at comfortable living.


  • Continuous Pavement: This is highly used in the industrial sector and it is easily coated and maintained. It can be found with polished concrete, which is highly resistant outdoors as well as indoors; self-levelling mortar, serving as a base for floors such as floating platforms or even traffic areas; micro cement, great for areas of intense transit such as commercial buildings; polished cement, which can usually be found in office floors; and synthetic continuous pavement, which are chemical-resistant. This type of pavement is used with the purpose in mind. It is usually very easy to maintain and clean, and they are also highly slip-resistant and heat resistant.


  • Intermittent Pavement: These are linked together and formed by pre-made concrete slabs, hydraulic tiles and other materials such as granite. These may be coated with rock, wood, hydraulic mosaic, cork and clay. These work well for both indoors and outdoors of homes. Depending on the flooring we wish to have and its availability. For example, if it is rock, it is usually used outside of homes as well as clay is usually found on balconies and wood for indoor flooring.


Choosing flooring can be a headache, but it is essential to distinguish what it will be used for and what characteristics are most important so that it can withstand the environment and its intended uses.

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