Asphalt aces brick, stone and cement with design
By Scott House
Looking for an alternative to a brick or stone driveway, parking lot, sidewalk or crosswalk? How about a unique way to display a logo and advertise a company or brand?
Stamped or imprinted asphalt technology offers creative solutions and an almost limitless array of patterns and colors.
Imprinted asphalt began gaining popularity in the mid-90s. Today it is used around the world in all varieties of climates as a decorative, durable and lower cost alternative to brick, stone or cement.
The process of stamping asphalt begins with the pattern. Special steel or woven wire templates are pre-formed into the desired design. These templates are laid out on the hot or reheated asphalt surface at 170°F.
The right surface temperature is critical to ensuring a uniform pattern. “Control the heat, or it will control you,” says David Strassman with DRS Paving in Madison, Wisconsin. The company has been imprinting asphalt for over 30 years.
Once in place, a vibrating plate compactor is then applied across the pattern. After compaction, the templates are removed and an even 3/8” imprint is left in the asphalt surface. Careful measurement and markings position the alignment of the templates creating a uniform, seamless pattern across the pavement.
After the stamping process, an acrylic based paint coating is applied via roller or spray adding color. Painting can also add a skid resistant texture to the surface.
Stamped asphalt can be a decorative addition to large or small areas in crosswalks, driveways, raised medians, pathways, parking lots, borders and entrances.
The benefits of stamped asphalt over traditional interlocking systems include the faster installation that can reduce traffic disruption. Stamped asphalt can be applied to both old and new surfaces.
Stamped surfaces are more durable than brick or stone that can be prone to shifting over time. The stamped imprints can last the life of the asphalt surface. Paint technology has improved and depending on traffic, surface treatments can last for years.
Asphalt installation can range from $3 to $10 per square foot and is generally more cost effective than adding brick or stone. Maintenance is easy as stamped asphalt is not prone to settling and grout line weed growth is eliminated. Surfaces can be easily re-colored or refreshed as needed.
The latest technology, and an alternative method for creating decorative pavement markings, uses thermoplastics. Thermoplastics can be used to create crosswalks, specialty street markings or to creatively display company logos.
Thermoplastics generally come in solid, pre-formed, 100-millimeter plastic sheets that are laid on an asphalt surface. After they are positioned, an infrared heater is used to bond the thermoplastic to the asphalt. As soon as it is cooled, it’s ready for traffic.
Installation costs can range from $10 to $20 per square foot. Though more expensive than stamped asphalt, thermoplastics offer a unique decorative pavement alternative.
Thermoplastics can be a great marketing tool for any brand or business. They can improve pedestrian safety with skid resistant surfaces, as well as add reflectivity for increased visibility. Thermoplastics are extremely durable, and with proper installation can last up to six times longer than a painted surface.
Make a mark
With no limit to creativity, stamped or imprinted asphalts offer an endless array of durable and economical design options. Whether the application is commercial, residential or municipal, the use of decorative asphalts continues to grow in popularity. So next time you’re out for a stroll take notice and see how decorative asphalts continue to make a mark.
House is a sales manager at BP Asphalt.