It’s inevitable – asphalt will eventually crack. As durable and flexible as asphalt is, it will slowly shift as conditions change. Surges in vehicle traffic, drying soils, temperature, water intrusion – all of these can cause asphalt areas to crack.
Asphalt cracks happen, but they still require prompt attention. If they’re caught early enough, a professional paving contractor can restore the asphalt’s condition and prolong its life.
Why Periodic Maintenance is Recommended for Asphalt Pavement
Asphalt is durable, offers excellent road performance and is less expensive than concrete. The only issue is maintenance. Experts recommend owners have their and sealcoat and asphalt inspected regularly and bring in an expert when asphalt cracks start to form. Here’s why:
- Early intervention will save you money – In every area in life, maintaining things is easier and more cost effective than repairing them after they fail. That’s true for asphalt too, whether it’s paved on a driveway, parking lot or interstate.
Tiny asphalt cracks will grow in size and spread, causing more problems with age. If caught early enough, small asphalt cracks can be sealed up with crack filler. However, if they aren’t dealt with early your surface may require an asphalt patch or, worse, a complete repaving. The longer you wait, the more expensive the fix will be.
- It will also improve the asphalt’s lifespan – When a business has their asphalt parking lots placed, they expect those parking lots to remain functional for a couple of decades, at least. It’s common to get 20 or more years from an asphalt surface before repaving is necessary, but that depends on a few factors.
Some of the factors are whether the asphalt was paved properly, the effects of prevailing weather and traffic conditions, and whether the asphalt is regularly maintained. Asphalt paving is a significant investment for a company, and like any significant investment, maintenance is key to getting the best return possible on the investment.
- Prompt repairs will preserve appearance and performance – Asphalt cracks eventually turn into potholes, and every pothole is a potential safety issue for your customers. And every potential safety issue also poses a potential legal issue for the business.
Responsive repairs prevent potholes from forming, along with other damage-related issues. That means motorists can drive without fear.
Regular asphalt care also helps the material look its best over time. How sharp your asphalt looks may not seem like a big deal, but it’s the first thing people will see when they approach your business, and first impressions are important.
There are several reasons why asphalt maintenance makes sense. The question is, how is asphalt repaired?
How Professional Houston Paving Contractors Repair Damage to Asphalt Surfaces
There are multiple techniques that professionals can deploy during repair. Prior to repair, though, any loose materials, debris and dirt must be cleaned from the surface. This ensures any filler or sealcoat will bond to the top layer of the asphalt. Once cleaned, your asphalt expert may use the following methods to fix the pavement:
- Crack filling – Surface-level blemishes like alligator cracking can be repaired using a simple asphalt crack filler. During repair, the maintenance crew will use a push melter filled with a rubber-like compound. The push melter will heat the rubber up to 350 degrees, ensuring it has the proper consistency for filling cracks and curing.
The crew will steer this melter over the crack and deposit filler into it. Depending on the size of the asphalt crack, it may take a second pass to completely cover it. Once cured, the rubber-based compound will flex like asphalt when cooled or heated, so it provides a reliable seal.
- Cut and surface patching – When asphalt cracks are allowed to sit, water will intrude past the surface and into deeper layers inside the asphalt pavement. Eventually, water intrusion will disturb the soils and aggregates underneath, causing a collapse that brings down the asphalt and forms a pothole.
If potholes are present, the only way to handle them is to cut out the damaged piece of asphalt using a pavement saw and patch it. The old asphalt is removed and new pavement is laid down in its place. This new patch is tamped down until it’s level with the surrounding asphalt and allowed to cure. If the area requiring repair is particularly large, additional tools may be needed to finish the job. Tools like an asphalt roller, for instance.
- Milling and resurfacing – If your asphalt pavement is in critical condition, with large, distressed areas, the existing asphalt may need to be milled and resurfaced. During milling, old asphalt is removed and ground into small pieces of aggregate.
This aggregate is then used as a base for new, durable pavement. Any aggregate that cannot be used is sent to a facility for further processing.
Milling and resurfacing require the kind of technology and expertise that only professionals have access to. This may include ripping out multiple layers of pavement and utilizing high-volume asphalt pavers to cover larger areas efficiently.
If the above techniques aren’t sufficient to restore the asphalt’s condition, that’s probably because the pavement is damaged down to its foundation. If this is the case, it will be impossible to fix the asphalt without ripping out the foundation and creating a new one.
Following repair, professionals recommend sealcoating the asphalt. Sealcoating involves the application of asphalt emulsion and protects the asphalt like a coat of wax protects a car. Sealcoat has a thin enough consistency that it will seep into the asphalt, filling up small cavities and protecting the pavement from wear, water, snow, heat. and UV radiation.
Rely On the Experts to Keep Your Asphalt in Good Shape
Whether you need an asphalt parking lot repaired or a long stretch of highway, it’s best to leave the job to the professionals. Choose a company with decades of experience in inspecting, maintaining and repairing asphalt, as well as paving new asphalt surfaces. The experts will know what early signs of damage to look for and how to prevent that damage from ruining your valuable asphalt investment.