What’s White Topping?

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Whitetopping is a process where a layer of concrete is applied to existing asphalt pavement to extend its life and improve appearance. Different approaches are used depending on traffic levels, with bonding achieved through texturing or a thin layer of concrete. Fiber reinforced concrete can add strength, and building codes determine thickness. Proper mixing and dosing of cement and aggregate is crucial for success.

Whitetopping is a construction process or strategy that involves applying a layer of concrete to the surface of an existing section of asphalt pavement. The idea behind this particular process is to lengthen the life of the underlying asphalt and in some cases improve its external appearance. There are various approaches to whitetopping, with some processes requiring bonding of the concrete layer to the underlying asphalt while other methods require no bonding at all.

Typically, bonding of whitetopping occurs with thicker applications of the concrete overlay. Known as conventional or unconstrained whitetopping, this approach is ideal for high-traffic areas, such as streets or roads that experience a constant flow of traffic during a typical day. Bonding is actually accomplished by texturing the underlying asphalt before pouring the concrete, reducing the smoothness so that the concrete can partially penetrate the asphalt surface. In contrast, bonded whitetopping normally requires a thin layer of concrete to be applied to the underlying asphalt, making it ideal for situations where traffic is relatively low.

In nearly any environment, the whitewashing process helps protect and extend the life of the asphalt. Depending on the specific application, fiber reinforced concrete can be used to provide additional strength to the cladding. This is particularly effective when the strategy is used to add strength and durability to a section of tarmac that sees continuous traffic and stress from day to day. Typically, different communities have building codes in place that help determine the thickness of concrete when used in certain applications. Local road contractors consult codes before determining the type of concrete that will be used and deciding on the level of thickness needed to create the desired level of protection.

As with any type of construction project, proper whitetopping is essential to the success of the project. Failure to use the right type of cement or failing to mix the cement with the right combination of aggregate and water can cause cracking, shrinkage or other problems that make the concrete cover ineffective. For this reason it is not uncommon for the aggregate to be prepared and dosed with great care in relation to the cement which is also part of the concrete, and to also control the amount of water that is added to the mix. In some cases, this involves washing the aggregate in order to remove impurities that could cause the concrete to crack or deposit during or after the curing process.

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