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the wearing surface of a road, street, or sidewalk. Parts of Babylon and Troy are believed to have been paved; Roman roadsRoman roads,
ancient system of highways linking Rome with its provinces. Their primary purpose was military, but they also were of great commercial importance and brought the distant provinces in touch with the capital.
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 were noted for their durable stone paving. Cobblestones were common from late medieval times into the 19th cent. A pavement known as macadam road, introduced in England in the 19th cent., is still used today; it consists basically of compacted layers of small stones cemented into a hard surface by means of stone dust and water (water-bound macadam). However, the main pavement surfaces in use today are bituminous/asphalt coverings and concrete. Desirable qualities in pavements include durability, smoothness, quietness, ease of cleaning, and a nonslippery surface. The requirements conflict to a degree, so no one material is ideal in all respects. The foundation of a pavement must be crowned, or slightly arched, for rapid shedding of water; it must be strong enough to withstand heavy dynamic loads, but capable of responding to temperature changes. In the bituminous macadam pavement, the foundation is macadam, upon which a bituminous material that penetrates at least 2 in (5 cm) into the foundation is poured, forming an impervious binder. In the bituminous-mixed macadam pavement, a mixture of crushed rock, ground glass and other additives, and bituminous binder is spread over a macadam foundation and rolled into a compact mass. The two other pavement types use a concreteconcrete,
structural masonry material made by mixing broken stone or gravel with sand, cement, and water and allowing the mixture to harden into a solid mass. The cement is the chemically active element, or matrix; the sand and stone are the inert elements, or aggregate.
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 road slab as a foundation. In the sheet asphalt pavement, a binder course and a wearing course are laid over a concrete foundation. The binder course, whose function is to prevent creepage of the upper course, is composed of broken stone and asphalt cement. The wearing surface is a mixture of fine sand, filler, and asphalt. By far the most common type of pavement for heavy use is rigid concrete. The first concrete pavement was laid in Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 1894. A modern highway will have a 6 in (15 cm) base of concrete, on top of which 3 in (7.5 cm) of steel-reinforced concrete will be laid. Pavements that must withstand only pedestrian traffic may use brick or wood-blocks, set in a 1 in. (2.5 cm) bedding of sand, cement mortar, or mastic. For ornamental pavements, see mosaicmosaic
, art of arranging colored pieces of marble, glass, tile, wood, or other material to produce a surface ornament. Ancient Mosaics

In Egypt and Mesopotamia, furniture, small architectural features, and jewelry were occasionally adorned with inset bits of
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 ; tiletile,
one of the ceramic products used in building, to which group brick and terra-cotta also belong. The term designates the finished baked clay—the material of a wide variety of units used in architecture and engineering, such as wall slabs or blocks, floor pavings,
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The durable surface of a sidewalk or other outdoor area, such as a walkway or open plaza.


(building construction)
A hard floor of concrete, brick, tiles, or other material.
(civil engineering)
A paved surface.
A bare rock surface that suggests a paved road surface or other pavement in smoothness, hardness, horizontality, surface extent, or close packing of units.


An artificial surface laid over the ground to facilitate travel. A pavement's ability to support loads depends primarily upon the magnitude of the load, how often it is applied, the supporting power of the soil underneath, and the type and thickness of the pavement structure. Before the necessary thickness of a pavement can be calculated, the volume, type, and weight of the traffic (the traffic load) and the physical characteristics of the underlying soil must be determined.

Once the grading operation has been completed and the subgrade compacted, construction of the pavement can begin. Pavements are either flexible or rigid. Flexible pavements, which are composed of aggregate (sand, gravel, or crushed stone) and bituminous material (see illustration), have less resistance to bending than do rigid pavements, which are made of concrete. Both types can be designed to withstand heavy traffic. Selection of the type of pavement depends, among other things, upon (1) estimated construction costs; (2) experience of the highway agency doing the work with each of the two types; (3) availability of contractors experienced in building each type; (4) anticipated yearly maintenance costs; and (5) experience of the owner in maintenance of each type. See Concrete, Highway engineering


The durable surfacing of a road, sidewalk, or other outdoor area.

pavement structure

pavement structureclick for a larger image
The combination of sub-base, base course, and surface course placed on a subgrade to support the traffic load and distribute it to the subgrade (ICAO). Also called pavement.

flexible pavement

A pavement structure that maintains intimate contact with and distributes loads to the subgrade and depends on aggregate interlock, particle friction, and cohesion for stability (ICAO). The term pavement refers to operating surfaces, such as runways, taxiways, aprons, and hardstandings. See pavement structure.


1. a hard-surfaced path for pedestrians alongside and a little higher than a road
2. a paved surface, esp one that is a thoroughfare
3. the material used in paving
4. Civil engineering the hard layered structure that forms a road carriageway, airfield runway, vehicle park, or other paved areas
5. Geology a level area of exposed rock resembling a paved road