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What’s the Difference Between Tarmac and Asphalt?

What’s the Difference Between Tarmac and Asphalt?

  Whether you’re driving your car down the highway or preparing for takeoff in a plane, you likely don’t pay much attention to the black stuff on the ground that makes it easier for you to get from point A to point B. After all, black stuff is black stuff, and to the untrained eye, there’s not much difference between an airport runway and the street outside your house. However, each is made with a unique material and process that serves a specific purpose. The minute differences between asphalt and tarmac determine the effectiveness of the road or lot, so if repaving is in your future, it helps to know which material can best serve your needs. Tarmac When riding in an airplane, you’ll likely spend quite a bit of time on the runway waiting for takeoff. Getting stuck on the tarmac is perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of air travel nowadays, but at least you can trust that once you get moving again, the tarmac will offer you a smooth, seamless transition to the skies. Tarmac, short for tarmacadam, gets its name from John Loudon McAdam, who first introduced his unique “macadamizing” method in 1820. Macadamizing is a process in which a layer of gravel is adhered to the top of normal pavement, but that isn’t exactly what makes tarmac tarmac. The “tar-“ part of tarmac comes from the extra layer that a businessman named Edgar Purnell Hooley chose to add to McAdam’s macadamized pavement. As the story goes, Hooley passed a tar factory where he noticed a barrel of the gooey black stuff had tipped...