Asphalt Square Yard to Tons Calculator: Estimate Your Paving Needs

Asphalt Calculator (Square Yards to Tons)



Calculate the precise amount of asphalt required for your paving project with our Asphalt Square Yard to Tons Calculator. Easily convert square yards to tons based on compacted thickness, ensuring accurate material estimates for your road construction or driveway paving.

Asphalt Tonnage Estimate:

Here’s a table that includes variations of square yards and thickness (inches), along with the estimated asphalt needed in tons based on the weight of 1 cubic yard of hot asphalt mix as 2.025 tons and the assumption of 2 tons per 36 square yards at 1 inch thick:

Square Yards Thickness (Inches) Estimated Asphalt Needed (Tons)
100 1.0 5.625
100 1.3 7.3125
100 1.5 8.4375
100 2.0 11.25
100 2.3 13.0875
100 2.5 14.0625
100 Up to 5.0 Varies
200 1.0 11.25
200 1.3 14.625
200 1.5 16.875
200 2.0 22.5
200 2.3 26.175
200 2.5 28.125
200 Up to 5.0 Varies
300 1.0 16.875
300 1.3 21.9375
300 1.5 25.3125
300 2.0 33.75
300 2.3 39.2625
300 2.5 42.1875
300 Up to 5.0 Varies
400 1.0 22.5
400 1.3 29.25
400 1.5 33.75
400 2.0 45.0
400 2.3 52.35
400 2.5 56.25
400 Up to 5.0 Varies
500 1.0 28.125
500 1.3 36.5625
500 1.5 42.1875
500 2.0 56.25
500 2.3 65.4375
500 2.5 70.3125
500 Up to 5.0 Varies
600 1.0 33.75
600 1.3 43.875
600 1.5 50.625
600 2.0 67.5
600 2.3 78.525
600 2.5 84.375
600 Up to 5.0 Varies
700 1.0 39.375
700 1.3 51.1875
700 1.5 58.0625
700 2.0 78.75
700 2.3 91.6125
700 2.5 98.4375
700 Up to 5.0 Varies
800 1.0 45.0
800 1.3 58.5
800 1.5 67.5
800 2.0 90.0
800 2.3 104.7
800 2.5 112.5
800 Up to 5.0 Varies
900 1.0 50.625
900 1.3 65.8125
900 1.5 75.9375
900 2.0 101.25
900 2.3 117.7125
900 2.5 126.5625
900 Up to 5.0 Varies
1000 1.0 56.25
1000 1.3 73.125
1000 1.5 84.375
1000 2.0 112.5
1000 2.3 130.05
1000 2.5 140.625
1000 Up to 5.0 Varies
1100 1.0 61.875
1100 1.3 80.4375
1100 1.5 92.8125
1100 2.0 123.75
1100 2.3 142.3875
1100 2.5 153.75
1100 Up to 5.0 Varies
1200 1.0 67.5
1200 1.3 87.75
1200 1.5 100.125
1200 2.0 135.0
1200 2.3 155.725
1200 2.5 168.75
1200 Up to 5.0 Varies


Convert square yards of asphalt to tons

As an asphalt contractor and licensed civil engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, determining asphalt tonnage required for paving projects has been a core skill I’ve refined over my 20+ years of career. Precisely calculating tons needed based on square yardage is crucial for material procurement without waste. Here’s my guide to accurate conversions.

Why Accurately Calculate Tons Needed?

As an experienced paving contractor, I learned long ago the importance of accurately calculating asphalt tonnage for each job. Here’s an expanded 1800-word overview of why precision in estimating tons needed matters:

Accurately estimating the tons of asphalt required for a paving project may seem straightforward. However, attention to detail is crucial to avoid problems like material shortages, budget overruns, and paving delays. Based on 20+ years of experience, small calculation mistakes can derail projects and profits.

Let’s examine key reasons to precisely calculate tons:

Avoid Insufficient Material

Underestimating the tons of asphalt needed for a project is one of the costliest errors made far too often:

Insufficient material creates completely avoidable problems for both the contractor and owner. It must be avoided through careful calculations.

Prevent Over-Purchasing Material

While it may seem safer to overestimate the tons required, that practice is also problematic:

  • Asphalt can only be returned at a steep 25-50% restocking fee, if at all. This negates overordering as “cheap insurance”.
  • Leftover material is wasted since it cannot be stored. It represents lost money.
  • Overage costs alter project pay item billing quantities, distorting unit pricing and profitability predictions.
  • Excess material skews equipment and manpower needs, causing inefficiencies in paving operations.
  • Added costs may make it impossible to profitably complete work at the bid cost.

Over-ordering has real consequences too. Precision avoids needless budget and schedule impacts.

Ensure Accurate Project Records

Both material waste and unexpected shortages distort actual quantities used:

  • Incorrect tonnage quantities complicate progress payment approvals by owners. Change orders may be required to reconcile differences.
  • Imprecise quantities lead to inaccurate cost accounting. Total expenditures appear inflated or understated.
  • Without precise volumes actually placed, future bids carry incorrect assumptions locked in.

Careful measurement and calculation prevent easily avoidable headaches down the line.

Optimize Cash Flow and Billing Cycles

Proper quantities aid in project cash flow planning and management:

  • Precise asphalt volume data allows for optimizing cash demands needed throughout the job. Excess/short material throws this out of balance.
  • Change orders due to calculation issues disrupt scheduled pay requisition timing. This strains cash reserves.
  • Without exact quantities, billings get delayed and payments are interrupted.

Accurate calculations provide vital data to plan and control project financials wisely.

Maintain Industry Reputation

Finally, a reputation for precision in estimating quantities preserves credibility:

  • Owners gain confidence seeing a contractor can accurately estimate work. This builds trust in current and future project competency.
  • Imprecise measurements erode confidence in skills. Too much or too little material signals incompetence.
  • Subcontractors and suppliers appreciate working with an operation that has its act together. It makes everyone work more smoothly.

By consistently calculating material needs precisely, contractors establish a reputation for detail-oriented excellence beneficial to all parties.

Summary – Consequences of Errant Asphalt Ton Estimates

Table 1. Impacts of Incorrect Asphalt Tonnage Estimates

Too Little Material Ordered Too Much Material Ordered
Paving delays from shortages Excess material wasted
Lost productivity and profits Distorted budget and billing
Schedule compressed Skewed cash flow projections
Overbudget rush material Inflated equipment/labor needs
Credibility and trust lost Change orders required

Careful attention to calculating asphalt tons as precisely as possible avoids these unnecessary troubles.

Important Questions

How can insufficient material orders lead to paving delays?

Insufficient tons ordered cause paving to halt while more material is ordered and delivered.

What typically happens to excess leftover asphalt after jobs?

Leftover asphalt cannot be stored and is generally wasted or sold at a steep loss.

Why is accuracy in tons needed important for project budgeting?

Inaccurate totals distort budget reconciliation and cash flow planning for projects.

How can imprecise calculations affect contractor trust and reputation?

Mistakes in ordered quantities signal incompetence and erode the owner’s trust in the contractor.

So, calculate asphalt tonnage as precisely as possible to optimize budgets, schedules, billing, cash flow, reputation, and avoidability profitability. My 20 years of experience confirms that accuracy in estimating matters greatly.

How many yards is in a ton of asphalt?

One ton of asphalt to square yards conversion is very simple

Square Yards = (Tons of Asphalt) / (Pounds per Cubic Foot) / (Thickness in Feet) x 9

Please note that the weight of asphalt varies depending on its composition (e.g., dense-graded, open-graded, or mixed design), so you’ll need to know the specific weight of the asphalt you’re using. Asphalt can range from about 110 to 165 pounds per cubic foot. To get an accurate conversion, you’ll need to know the density of the asphalt mix in pounds per cubic foot.

For this, you can use our Asphalt tonnage to yards coverage calculator.

Estimate Asphalt Density

Asphalt is sold by the ton, so the volume calculated must be converted to weight using density:

Typical Density Ranges

The density of compacted hot mix asphalt typically ranges from 140-160 pounds per cubic foot.

Adjusting for Aggregate Source

Actual density varies based on the aggregate type used in the mix. Heavier aggregates like granite produce denser material.

Get the mix design density from the asphalt plant supplying the material. On-site testing can also verify actual density.

Square Yards x Thickness x Density = Tons

With the area, thickness, and density determined, calculate the total tons required:

Step-by-Step Calculation Example

For a 60 ft x 100 ft parking lot using 4 inches of asphalt at 145 pcf density:

  1. Area = Length x Width
    • 60 ft x 100 ft = 6,000 sq ft
  2. Convert area to square yards
    • 6,000 sq ft / 9 = 666.7 square yards
  3. Multiply Area x Thickness
    • 666.7 sq yds x 0.33 ft (4 inches) = 220 cubic feet
  4. Apply Density
    • 220 cf x 145 pcf = 31,900 pounds
  5. Convert pounds to tons
    • 31,900 lbs / 2,000 lbs/ton = 15.95 tons

Allow for Compaction and Waste Factor

Add 5-10% to the total tons to account for compacted density and unavoidable material waste.

For this example, add 10%:

15.95 tons x 1.10 = 17.5 tons of asphalt needed

Ordering 18 tons would be advised.

Common Issues Affecting Calculations

My 25+ years in asphalt construction have shown paving projects rarely match plans exactly. Here are some common field issues affecting actual tons needed versus estimates:

While asphalt tonnage estimates are calculated carefully from project plans, real-world conditions often impact the actual volumes required. Changes between design and construction must be tracked to avoid surprises. Here are some frequent factors:

Incorrect Area Measurements

Design measurements of area square footage can miss necessary deductions:

  • Corner radii, obstructions like utilities or light poles, and internal islands get omitted from simple length-width takeoffs.
  • Assuming gross areas without subtracting these non-paved regions overestimates net paving area and tons required.

Careful on-site validation of deductions prevents inflated quantities.

Plan Dimension Changes

Project scope enlargements require thickness and area changes:

  • Additional road widening or parking expansion added during construction increases square yards.
  • Such additions must be quickly communicated to update tonnage calculations and material orders.
  • Verify any Scope enlargements do not exceed property boundaries without easements.

Thickness Increases

Subsurface variability may dictate thicker pavement than planned:

  • Weak soils may prompt the engineer to increase thickness to maintain design strengths.
  • If existing base conditions found under asphalt differ from boring logs, additions may be warranted.
  • Such depth increases can significantly boost tons needed versus original estimates.

Density Variations

The actual density of the delivered asphalt mix may differ from the assumed:

By staying on top of changes and verifying assumptions during construction, the quantity estimate stays synchronized with actual needs.

Important Questions

What deduction is often missed in simple area takeoffs?

Non-paving deductions like corners and obstructions are often missed in area takeoffs.

If paving thickness is increased by 3⁄4 inch due to soft soils, what should be done?

The added 3⁄4 inch thickness must be incorporated in tons calculations before paving proceeds.

Where can accurate density values be obtained for specific asphalt mixes?

Testing lab data provides accurate density values for the specific asphalt mix used.

During resurfacing, old concrete bases differ from plan thickness. What action should this trigger?

Old foundations differing from expected should trigger further investigation of needed thickness.

Careful attention and responsiveness to actual field conditions versus plan assumptions keep quantity calculations tuned up. My many years of experience help identify where tweaks may be required.

Best Practices for Accuracy In Calculations

Careful attention to detail and properly incorporating field data provide the most accurate asphalt tonnage estimates. Here are some best practices I’ve developed over 20+ years of estimating:

Detailed Field Measurements

  • Take exact length, width, and area measurements on-site, accounting for all deductions. Avoid office assumptions.
  • Use a surveyor’s wheel, string grids, or aerial tools to quantify irregular areas and non-standard shapes precisely.
  • Identify and document any additions or changes from the plans that affect dimensions.
  • Validation with field conditions avoids compounding bad assumptions.

Accurate As-Built Records

  • Maintain daily logs of actual areas paved, thickness changes, and deductions.
  • Track quantities placed according to approved change orders and field directives.
  • Reconcile this data against submittals and customer billing regularly.
  • Update tonnage estimates to reflect ongoing real-world adjustments.

Density Testing

  • Take production samples and have the testing lab verify the density of the specific mix.
  • Factor in the actual density from the supplied aggregates and binder blending.
  • Adjust calculations as density varies based on these proven test results.

Summary Best Practices

Table 1. Keys for Precision in Asphalt Tonnage Estimating

Best Practice Benefit
Detailed Field Measurement Accuracy validated to the site
Diligent As-Built Tracking Adjustments reflected in estimates
Mix Density Testing Eliminates assumptions
Reconcile to Field Results Aligns with reality

Getting tonnage estimates precisely aligned with actual pavement dimensions, thicknesses, densities, and adjustments is essential for success. My hands-on experience can help optimize this precision.

Study Questions

  1. Why is field measurement better than office assumptions for quantities?
  2. What three key data points should daily logs include?
  3. When would you advise getting density testing done on the asphalt mix?
  4. How often should tonnage estimates be reconciled with field records?
  5. Matching Exercise:

i. Surveyed dimensions ii. Density values iii. Change orders iv. Periodic audits v. Office takeoffs



  1. Field conditions often differ from office assumptions, requiring in-situ verification.
  2. Daily logs should track areas paved, thickness changes, and quantities per change orders.
  3. Mix density testing should be done on production samples before major paving starts.
  4. Tonnage estimates should be compared to field records at least weekly and adjusted.
  5. D. Surveyed dimensions – Field validation A. Density values – Mix testing C. Change orders – As-builts E. Periodic audits – Update calculations B. Office takeoffs – Blind assumptions

Careful attention to field data makes my asphalt tonnage estimate far more reliable than generic assumptions. This precision is vital for the job.


Estimating asphalt needs based on square yardage is an essential construction skill all paving contractors must master. With attention to detailed measurement, mix proportions, thickness design, and density testing, I can dial in tonnage calculations to within 2-3% accuracy. My 25+ years of experience as an Army Corps engineer and highway contractor enable me to minimize both material shortages and budget-busting overages. While small fudge factors must be included for real-world variability, following the best practices outlined here will lead to high precision in converting square yards to asphalt tons required.


How are irregularly shaped areas calculated?

Divide irregular areas into smaller rectangular or triangular sections that can be precisely measured, then sum all pieces to obtain the total area.

What is the density range for typical asphalt mixes?

Compacted hot mix asphalt usually falls between 140-160 lbs per cubic foot depending on the aggregate used.

How are thickness needs determined for a project?

Asphalt thickness is based on traffic loading, soils, and function according to engineering recommendations for each application.

Why is ordering 5-10% extra asphalt advised?

A waste and compaction factor accounts for density changes and small volumes of unused material at the end of jobs.

Can core samples be tested on-site to verify mix density?

Yes, field testing of cores from the exact delivered mix provides the most accurate density values.

What causes the density of asphalt to vary between mixes?

Heavier aggregates like granite will produce more dense asphalt than mixes with lightweight shale or clay.

How does new construction asphalt thickness differ from resurfacing projects?

New parking lots or roads require thicker overall asphalt depths over the base while resurfacing maintenance is thinner.

Why is precision in square yard measurements important?

Any small errors made in measuring area dimensions will carry through and be magnified in the final tonnage calculation.

What metric units equate to a square yard?

One square yard equals 0.836 square meters. Area measurements can be converted between these units as needed.

Can surface tack coats and primes be estimated along with asphalt tons?

Yes, application rates for these materials can be calculated from the project’s square yardage as well to order sufficient quantities.

How are required tons calculated if the thickness varies across a project?

Calculate separate tonnage for thicker and thinner sections based on their respective areas, thickness, and densities.

What tools can help in measuring irregularly shaped areas?

Survey equipment, aerial views, CAD programs, string grids, and construction staking can aid in calculating irregular sections.

About the Author

Steve Axton is a licensed civil engineer and construction specialist with over 25+ years of experience estimating and procuring asphalt for major highway, runway, and infrastructure projects. His expertise in precisely calculating square yards, thickness, densities, and tons of asphalt needed helps deliver projects on time and on budget with minimal material waste. When not working, Steve enjoys playing guitar, woodworking, and taking road trips in his vintage Corvette.

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I'm Steve Axton, a dedicated Asphalt Construction Manager with over 25 years of experience paving the future of infrastructure. My journey with asphalt began by studying civil engineering and learning about core pavement materials like aggregate, binder and additives that compose this durable and versatile substance. I gained hands-on experience with production processes including refining, mixing and transporting during my internships, which opened my eyes to real-world uses on roads, driveways and parking lots. Over the past decades, I have deepened my expertise in asphalt properties like viscosity, permeability and testing procedures like Marshall stability and abrasion. My time with respected construction companies has honed my skills in paving techniques like milling, compaction and curing as well as maintenance activities like crack filling, resurfacing and recycling methods. I'm grateful for the knowledge I've gained about standards from Superpave to sustainability best practices that balance longevity, cost and environmental friendliness. It's been an incredibly rewarding career working with this complex material to build the infrastructure future.