How does Base Stabilization and Soil Stabilization Differ?

How does Base Stabilization and Soil Stabilization Differ is a blog post that has a feature imge. The feature image is that of a asphalt road going on into the horizon with lush trees growing on either side of the road in a sunny day.

How does Base Stabilization and Soil Stabilization Differ?

Within the realm of road construction, base stabilization and soil stabilization might have been used interchangeably. But in their essence, these industry jargons refer to different processes. Before we jump into their particularities and characteristics, let us go over some definitions.

What is Base Stabilization?

In its essence, base stabilization is a process used to stabilize the ground and soil where a road will be constructed over it.

The main reason why roads fail is water. A base stabilization seals the soil before the construction of a road begins and the waterproofed area prevents any water or humidity from infiltrating and damaging the many layers. Without a strong and sturdy base, a road – made of asphalt or concrete – cannot do its job. Water invites erosion and added to the stress by traffic, causes all kinds of damage to the surface of the road. Once water is infiltrated is it nearly impossible to permanently fix this issue without having to excavate everything and start over. Thus, base stabilization gives waterproofing and hardness to the road above it, while maintaining its integrity over time.

What is Soil Stabilization?

Soil stabilization is a process of improving, maintaining, or treating the soil as road construction material.

Earth that has not been treated is more likely to have bigger particles. These larger particles have a low bearing, or in other words, they cannot withstand the weight of traffic – think uneven dirt roads filled with potholes that lift up a storm of dust when vehicles drive by. When soil stabilization is conducted, the bigger soil particles are crushed and become smaller. Thus, soil stabilization boosts the strength and compacts the earth to create a road that has a higher bearing than before, creating a smoother rural road with little to no dust when vehicles drive by for example.

How are Bituminous Base and Soil Stabilizations Applied?

Base stabilization and soil stabilization can be applied in a variety of methods with several different materials. One of the most commonly used materials are bitumen emulsions for both processes.

Not only are the names similar, but base and soil stabilization can be done in similar application methods with a Wirtgen or Grader machine.

In the case of working with a Wirtgen Recycler, there are separate tanks for the bitumen emulsion and water. The machine will complete several steps all in one process: mixing the bitumen emulsion with the water to achieve a predefined diluted mixture, mix the diluted emulsion with aggregate the Wirtgen ripped up from where the machine is and reapplying it onto the ground.

When using the Grader machine, the process is similar to the one above, but done by different vehicles. Usually, a spray tanker sprays a diluted bitumen emulsion onto the ground and a Grader machine is positioned behind the tanker in order to incorporate the emulsion and water into the soil.

What is the Main Difference Between Base Stabilization and Soil Stabilization?

After analyzing definitions, purpose, and applications, it is easy to notice why base stabilization and soil stabilization have been used interchangeably – they are nearly identical.

However, the main difference is intended design. Base Stabilization only happens when an actual road is meant to be built, while soil stabilization becomes a road with time and the accumulation of layers due to maintenance – spraying happens to maintain the vitality of the surface against the elements. In essence, vehicles do not drive on a base stabilized layer, however, they can on soil stabilized layers.


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