What are the Aggregates Found on BC Roads?

British Columbia, located in the western part of Canada, boasts a diverse landscape of natural beauty, from lush forests to rugged mountain ranges and stunning coastlines. This varied terrain necessitates a robust and well-maintained road network to connect communities and facilitate economic growth. The construction and maintenance of these roads rely heavily on a wide range of aggregates that are essential for building safe and durable transportation infrastructure. In this comprehensive guide, we explain the aggregates used on British Columbia roads, their applications, and their significance in the construction industry.

The Role of Aggregates in Road Construction

Aggregates, which include materials like sand, gravel, rocks, and more, are the fundamental building blocks of road construction. These materials serve various critical functions in the creation and maintenance of roadways, from providing stability to offering a durable and cost-effective surface for traffic. In British Columbia, where a vast network of highways, access roads, and cycle paths crisscross the province, the importance of high-quality aggregates cannot be overstated.

Common Types of Aggregate Material Used in BC


Sand is a crucial component in road construction, particularly in the formation of a stable road base. It provides a granular material that enhances drainage and load-bearing capacity. Sand can be found in various forms, including masonry sand, bedding sand, and concrete sand, each tailored to specific road construction needs. Concrete sand, for example, is an essential ingredient in the production of concrete slabs, which are often used for pavement construction.


Gravel, often sourced from gravel pits, is another indispensable aggregate in British Columbia road construction. It is widely used in various applications, including the creation of road bases, pavements, and as a surfacing material for access roads and cycle tracks. The versatility of traditional gravel and pea gravel makes it a cornerstone of the construction industry, and its availability in the province ensures the seamless development of transportation infrastructure.


Rocks, in different sizes and types, play a significant role in road construction in British Columbia thanks to their wide availability. Rocks such as drain rock and river rock are employed in creating durable road bases and as an essential component in the production of concrete. The application of rocks in road construction provides the necessary strength and stability to withstand the challenges posed by freeze-thaw cycles, traffic loads, and pavement conditions.

Hot Mix Asphalt

Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) is a popular choice for road surfacing due to its durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions. HMA contains a mixture of aggregates, including sand, gravel, and rocks, bound together with asphalt cement. The use of HMA in road construction ensures a longer service life, particularly under high traffic loads and freeze-thaw cycles.

Why do you need paint protection film in British Columbia?

Applications of Aggregates in Road Construction

Aggregates find applications in various aspects of road construction in British Columbia, ranging from the foundation to the surface of the road. Understanding these applications is crucial for building and maintaining high-quality road infrastructure.

Road Base

The road base serves as the foundation of any road. It provides stability and load-bearing capacity, which are essential for sustaining vehicles. Aggregates, particularly gravel and rocks, are the primary components used in creating a solid road base. These materials ensure that the road can withstand the stresses it experiences throughout its lifecycle, from the effects of freeze-thaw cycles to the weight of passing vehicles.


Pavements, such as those used in highways and access roads, require a durable surface material that can withstand the rigors of constant traffic. Aggregates are an integral part of pavement construction, providing the necessary strength and resistance to wear and tear. Different types of aggregates, including gravel and rocks, are utilized in the composition of road surfaces, contributing to the longevity and functionality of the pavement.

Cycle Paths and Cycle Tracks

In an era of increasing environmental consciousness and a growing interest in cycling, the construction of cycle paths and tracks is on the rise. Aggregates play a crucial role in these projects, providing a durable and smooth surface for cyclists to navigate safely. The natural materials found in British Columbia, such as gravel and rocks, offer the ideal components for creating cycle paths and tracks that can endure a wide range of weather conditions and foot traffic.

Aggregate Application Process

In British Columbia, the application process for aggregates in road construction typically involves mixing various types of aggregates, such as sand, gravel, and rocks, with binding materials like asphalt or cement. Conventional asphalt applications are common, and the ease of application is an important consideration, ensuring that the mixture is spread evenly and efficiently.

Chip seals, a widely used surface treatment, involve the application of a thin layer of asphalt over an existing road, followed by the placement of aggregate chips. The choice of chip seal type depends on factors like traffic load and environmental conditions. For driveway chips and other road applications, the aggregate industry plays a crucial role, supplying the necessary materials for a durable and safe road surface.

How Do Aggregates Affect Vehicles?

Aggregates, which often include small chips and stones, can have negative effects for road users, potentially leading to damage and incurring additional costs for car owners. 

Windshield and Paint Damage

Aggregates, especially sharp and small chips, can pose a threat to vehicles on the road. When vehicles travel over roads surfaced with aggregates, such chips may become dislodged, creating various problems for drivers. One common issue is damage to windshields and the exterior paint of vehicles. Chips propelled by passing vehicles can strike windshields, leading to cracks or chips in the glass. Additionally, chips striking the car’s body can cause paint chipping and scratches.

Tire Damage

Small stones and chips can be flung onto the road surface by the tires of other vehicles, potentially causing punctures or damage to a car’s tires. Tire damage can be costly and may lead to additional expenses for car owners.

Undercarriage and Suspension Damage

Aggregates can also pose a risk to a vehicle’s undercarriage, including the exhaust system, suspension components, and even the chassis. In some cases, rough and uneven road surfaces with loose aggregates can lead to more substantial damage if the vehicle’s suspension is not properly maintained.

How To Protect Your Car From Aggregates 

Protecting your car from the potential damage caused by loose aggregates on the road is essential for maintaining its appearance and avoiding costly repairs. Here are some effective ways to protect your car from aggregates:

  • Protective Paint Coatings: PPF is a transparent, self-healing film that can be professionally applied to the exterior of your car. It provides an additional layer of protection against chips, scratches, and small debris. PPF is virtually invisible and can be applied to vulnerable areas like the front bumper, hood, mirrors, and fenders.
  • Maintain a Safe Following Distance: When driving behind other vehicles, especially large trucks or those carrying heavy loads, maintain a safe following distance. This will reduce the chances of your car being pelted by debris thrown up by the vehicle in front of you.
  • Regular Vehicle Maintenance: Keeping your car in good condition, including properly inflated tires and well-maintained suspension components, can reduce the risk of damage when driving over uneven or gravel-covered road surfaces.

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Invest in Paint Protection Film for Your Vehicle 

Protex Canada offers XPEL paint protection film, a cutting-edge solution designed to safeguard your vehicle’s paint from chips, scratches, and other forms of damage. This high-quality, transparent film is virtually invisible once applied to your car, preserving the original appearance. XPEL PPF features self-healing properties, allowing minor scratches to disappear over time.

We offer professional installation to ensure a seamless, custom fit to your vehicle’s vulnerable areas, such as the front bumper, hood, fenders, and mirrors. With XPEL PPF, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your vehicle’s paint is shielded from road debris and environmental elements while maintaining a pristine and factory-fresh look.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Maintaining the appearance of brick-paved roads is crucial for both functionality and visual appeal. Aggregates, such as the type and quality of sand and gravel used in the underlying layers, play a significant role in ensuring the long-lasting and attractive appearance of brick pavement.

Composite pavements combine various materials, including aggregates, to create road surfaces that offer a balance of durability and cost-effectiveness. Understanding the advantages of composite pavements, how they withstand pavement deterioration, and their suitability for different pavement users is essential for informed road construction decisions.