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Types of Road Pavement in Construction: 6 Important Points

Table of Contents

What is Pavement?

Key Functions of Road Pavement:

Types of Pavements

Flexible Pavement

 Surface Course:

Milling of Pavement Surface Course:

Base Course:

Sub-Base Course:

Capping Layers:

Geogrid Layer:

Semi-Rigid Pavement

Rigid Pavement

road pavement

What is Road Pavement? what are the key functions of Road Pavement?

If you would like to know all these details along with the types of road pavement, please read this interesting blog.

Let’s crack on.

What is Pavement?

The road pavement is multiple layered surfaces constructed to allow the movement of vehicles and provide a smooth and comfortable ride to road users.

There are two primary purposes of road pavement, first to provide a controlled friction level to the running vehicle, and second to transmit the vehicle load to the underlying ground.  

Key Functions of Road Pavement:

  • Transmit the vehicle load from the base coarse to the sub-base to the underlying ground surface.
  • Robust enough to bear Heavy Vehicle load for the entire design life duration with minimum maintenance or intermittent pavement treatment.
  • Provide adequate skid resistance either by directly applying high PSV (Polished Stone Value) surface course or by applying HFS (High Friction Surface) Treatment.
  • Provide low noise levels (generated by tyres and pavement surface friction) in the urban road by applying TSCS or a similar surface course.
  • Allow comparatively a high noise level on rural motorways/ national roads but minimize the construction and maintenance cost in long run.

There are numerous types of road pavements as per the road usage, local environment, ground condition, etc and all pavement types come with some pros/cons and advantages/limitations, etc.

Broadly Road Pavements are classified into three distinct categories based on the pavement material types

Types of Pavements

There are three key types of pavements depending on the materials used as shown below:

  1. Flexible Pavement
  2. Semi-Rigid Pavement
  3. Rigid Pavement

blog road camber

Flexible Pavement

Flexible pavement is made of multiple layers named surface course, base course, sub-base, capping, and lastly Geogrid. The surface layer is made of Asphalt material.

It is further categorized into two materials named Thin Surface course System (TSCS) and Hot Tolled Asphalt (HRA).

  • Surface Course
  • Base Course
  • Sub-Base
  • Capping
  • Geogrid

 Surface Course:

The surface Course which is made of Asphalt material is a mix of asphalt cement and aggregate (5% and 95% respectively).  In surface course treatment, larger size aggregates are placed in the lower section and small size aggregates are placed in the upper section.

Asphalt materials are made robust enough to withstand the local climate, which means in a colder climate, they are made softer and in a hot climate, they are made harder.

The following are two types of material commonly used as surface Courses:

  1. Thin Surface course System (TSCS)
  2. Hot Rolled Asphalt

Thin Surface Course System (TSCS):

This Surface Course System is considered a high-end Stone Mastic Asphalt and is preferred for the urban road for low-level noise generation from vehicle tyres friction. It is easy for placement, and compaction.

Riding quality over the TSCS is also very smooth compared to HRA. TSCS comes in three sizes:

  • Type-A: 12mm to 18mm
  • Type-B: 18mm to 25mm
  • Type-C: 26mm to 50mm

Hot Rolled Asphalt (HRA):

Hot Rolled Asphalt (HRA) is a composition of bitumen, aggregate, and sand.  It is highly dense and pre-coated chipping asphalt and comes with a high skid resistance ability.   A high PSV (polished stone value) value chipping makes the HRA more skid-resistant.

As a result, it generates a high level of noise due to vehicle tyres friction and so, it's not suitable for the urban road but useful for rural high-speed roads or motorways. It needs less maintenance and resurfacing compared to TSCS.

Milling of Pavement Surface Course:

Milling of the Pavement Course is required when it is recommended to restrengthen the existing road pavement. Milling is a delicate task and needs high-level workmanship and expertise.

To know more about it, please read "The Contractor's Advice for Milling and Paving" by allpaving

Base Course:

The base Course is laid just below the surface course and above the Sub-base layer. The thickness of the base course varies from 100mm to 160mm.

It is laid to support the foundation and transmit the load of the vehicle and upper pavement layer to the sub-base and underlying soil.


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Sub-Base Course:

The sub-base is laid just below the Base-course and above the Capping Layer. The sub-base is considered the foundation layer (unbound layer) and made to bear a load of the above layer plus vehicular load and transmit that to the Capping and underlying soil.

The thickness of the Sub-Base Course is dependent on the CBR of the existing adjacent ground. The lower the CBR value, the higher the thickness of the sub-Base.

The sub-base course is an unbound layer and made of a material such as crushed stone or crumpled concrete or slag.

Capping Layers:

Capping Layer is also considered a part of the Pavement Foundation and termed as an unbound layer. The aggregate used in Capping is generally of inferior quality than the sub-base course. It supports the Sub-base and minimizes the damage of the sub-base from excessive vehicular loading.

The capping layer provides additional strength to the Sub-Base and also shields the underlying soil from heavy construction vehicles and machine loading during the construction stage.

Geogrid Layer:

Geogrid is predominantly a Geosynthetics and is made like an open mesh grid structure. It enhances the tensile strength of the underlying soil and minimizes the undercutting soil. It holds soil particles but permits the movement of fluids, so greatly enhances the performance of the Pavement Sub-Base.

Semi-Rigid Pavement

The pavement sub-base is commonly constructed from traditional aggregate. Semi-Rigid Pavement is made of waste materials such as steel industry wastes such as granulated slag, BF slag, Flyash, SMS, etc.

These steel industrial wastes are very useful to use as a Sub-Base material and it improves the performance of the Sub-Base significantly.

Rigid Pavement

Rigid pavements are made of a mix of aggregate and Portland cement in the form of a concrete slab. The slab is laid over the sub-base material which is made of granulated material or placed directly over the capping layer.

Our  Highway Engineering Course has covered a detailed module on Pavement Design.

Please see the Freeview of the course on our Youtube channel.

highway engineering course 01 

What are the Innovation in Road Pavement Construction?

In recent years, there have been several innovations in road pavement construction aimed at improving durability, safety, sustainability, and reducing maintenance costs. Here are some examples:

Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA):

Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA): is an innovative pavement construction technology that allows for the production and placement of asphalt at lower temperatures than traditional hot mix asphalt (HMA). This reduces energy consumption, lowers emissions, and improves the working conditions for workers during construction.

Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP):

Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP) is a pavement material that is made from recycled asphalt pavement, which is typically used in the base or surface layers of new pavement construction. Using RAP can reduce the amount of new asphalt required, lower construction costs, and reduce the environmental impact of road construction.

Permeable Pavement:

Permeable pavement is a pavement construction technology that allows water to infiltrate the pavement surface, reducing the amount of runoff and improving water quality. This type of pavement is particularly effective in urban areas where there is limited space for stormwater management.

High-Performance Concrete (HPC):

High-Performance Concrete (HPC) is a type of concrete that is designed to have higher strength, durability, and resistance to cracking than traditional concrete. This type of concrete can be used in pavement construction to improve durability, reduce maintenance costs, and extend the service life of the pavement.

Intelligent Compaction (IC):

Intelligent Compaction (IC) is an innovative pavement construction technology that uses real-time compaction data to optimize the compaction process during construction. This technology can improve the quality and durability of the pavement and reduce the risk of premature pavement failure.

These innovative pavement construction technologies demonstrate the potential for new materials, processes, and technologies to improve the durability, safety, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness of road infrastructure.

Hope this blog helps you understand the key functions of Road Pavement and also various types of Pavement Layers.

Please feel free to comment and share.  

Admin, gcelab.com
Please see our Pillar Post to know why we founded gcelab.com.


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Founder at gcelab.com, Pooja is an Entrepreneur unlocking human potential. Working in the Principles of Lean Start-up, Pooja believes in Transparency and User Happiness the most. Pooja’s background in teaching gives her a sophisticated grasp on even the most tedious aspect of course building. She is passionate about people who believe that good is not enough.

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