Asphalt pavement is composed of sand, a stone aggregate, and liquid asphalt — a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid. It makes for a strong and hard surface on roadways, commercial parking lots, or private driveways, cart paths and walkways. But asphalt is also flexible — and therefore durable — and more likely to do well in extreme weather conditions, accepting shifting and resisting cracking commonly seen in other surfacing options. Asphalt’s continuous surface prevents both the shifting problems associated with vehicle friction and harsh freeze/thaw cycles, as well as prevents weed growth.
In recent years, there have been many paving innovations in areas of texturing and stone applications for a more decorative look to the asphalt. “Chip sealing” involves applying decorative stone of appropriate sizes to a layer of liquid asphalt, and then finishing it. The result is a more sophisticated, aesthetically pleasing textured surface that combines the beauty of the stone with the durability and flexibility of asphalt.
Despite asphalt’s clear advantages in longevity, it still requires conscientious maintenance. Appropriate and timely upkeep will ensure that the asphalt pavement is safer, more attractive, easier to clean, and longer-lasting. The commercial pavers who lay the asphalt should also provide a suitable plan for maintenance.
Maintenance plans typically include a brush or spray technique known as “seal coating” used to apply an emulsion or oil based liquid to the asphalt surface to keep the surface looking new and deter cracking. After oil and fuel stains are cleaned, the sealant is applied, keeping water from settling into the pores of the asphalt — water that would otherwise freeze and expand within the asphalt, causing cracks.
Asphalt will endure damage from general wear, ultraviolet rays, chemicals, salts, and water. But inevitably, your asphalt pavement will require, after phases of light maintenance, eventually repair, and finally resurfacing or replacement. The expensive process of resurfacing can be significantly postponed by vigilant crack repairing and pothole filling.
Crack repair typically includes sealing the cracks in the asphalt with tar or caulk to prevent water penetration. The patching of potholes is done with “hot patch” materials.
Any paving project is an investment in one’s property that needs to be looked after and cared for in order to maintain quality and safety. Following your paver’s maintenance plan, including routine sweeping, cleaning and filling cracks, and seal coating will ensure your asphalt pavement continues to add functionality and value to whatever space it is part of.