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Making the Most of Your Asphalt’s Life Cycle

by | Mar 29, 2019

Just like the vehicles that use it, asphalt depreciates over time. But unlike those vehicles, asphalt receives no protection from the elements and early signs of damage can frequently be overlooked, leading to far more drastic and expensive fixes once the damage had progressed.

Fortunately, asphalt wear and tear can be addressed with preventative maintenance to slow the hidden causes of this damage and greatly prolong the useful life cycle of your asphalt driveway, road, or parking lot. But before we talk about treatments to protect and maintain your asphalt, let’s take a look at a few of the biggest causes of asphalt damage and wear:

  1. Traffic Weight – Frequent or sustained use by heavy vehicles compresses and stresses the asphalt surface, leading to cracking in high use areas.
  2. UV Light – The same way ultraviolet rays fade hardwood floors, UV light oxidizes asphalt and breaks down its chemical bonds, gradually causing the surface to lose flexibility and become brittle.
  3. Temperature shifts – Here in Michigan we experience drastic temperature changes, often on a daily basis. Hot weather makes the asphalt more flexible and triggers expansion, while cold weather compresses the material, gradually pulling it apart.
  4. Water – Moisture is always trying to get into the asphalt by way of cracks or gaps in the surface. Water can wash away the material below the pavement, leaving it unsupported, or simply freeze and expand to trigger winter or springtime pothole formation.

A number of routine maintenance procedures or as-needed interventions, all of which are available from Stripe A Lot, limit and correct the damage from these triggers. These treatments include:

  • Sealcoating
  • Crack filling
  • Crack sealing
  • Patching
  • Overlays
  • Repaving

In general you should expect your asphalt surface to require the following maintenance over its lifecycle:

  • Years 0-5: New asphalt in good condition requires very little to no maintenance.
  • Years 5-7: Begin routine sealcoating procedures and seal cracks as needed.
  • Years 7-15: Patch repairs, crack sealing/filling, and additional sealcoating treatments.
  • Years 15-25: Asphalt will require more severe treatments, which may include more frequent sealcoating, asphalt overlays, or large patch repairs.
  • Years 25-35: End of lifecycle. At this point a completely new asphalt application is generally warranted in order to provide a stable, clean, useful surface. Old asphalt is removed and recycled.

It’s impressive that a well-designed, well-built asphalt drive or parking lot can continue to serve for three decades or longer as long as it receives relatively inexpensive maintenance. And according to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, lifecycle costs of hot-mix asphalt are significantly lower than concrete pavement, despite concrete enjoying a longer lifespan in general.

This makes asphalt a great option for long-term pavement, and here in West Michigan you can find no better asphalt provider than Stripe A Lot. Our team is armed with the best equipment, customer service, and experience available and we would love to use it to help you. Contact our team today at 616-772-2559 to learn more.

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