The Weather’s Impact On New Asphalt
Whether it’s a paved driveway or a parking lot of a business, there’s nothing that looks quite as good as freshly-paved asphalt. However, while it may look good initially, the weather can sometimes have quite an impact on the asphalt. From hot temperatures in summer to the cold snow and ice of winter, the effects of the elements can play havoc with new asphalt. If you are considering getting your driveway paved or have a business that needs its parking lot paved, here are some impacts the weather may play on the new asphalt, as well as some ways you can fight back against Mother Nature’s assault on your asphalt.
While you might enjoy a sunny day, chances are the new asphalt in your driveway or parking lot won’t. Since the sun emits ultraviolet rays, it can not only damage your skin, but also asphalt. Because the sun’s rays can actually soak into the asphalt, a process known as oxidation can begin. When this happens, that dark-colored pavement you’ve been admiring will start to fade, eventually becoming a very light-gray. And unfortunately, the changes you’re witnessing aren’t just cosmetic. In fact, the UV rays are deteriorating the asphalt’s quality, ultimately leading to cracking.
While rainwater that runs off an asphalt surface does little if any damage, the rainwater that pools up due to poor drainage can present many problems. If water is allowed to stand on an asphalt surface very long, it can seep down into the asphalt and lead to cracking, swells, edge cracks, and fatigue cracking, also called alligator cracking due to the jagged lines that resemble those on an alligator’s back. If allowed to stand long enough, the results can be major damage that will require extensive repairs. Therefore, if you’re getting a driveway or parking lot paved, always make sure those doing the job have created slightly-sloped surfaces that will allow for runoff of water.
In places where the temperature gets well below freezing during winter, asphalt surfaces can contract and crack due to the freeze-thaw cycle that occurs throughout the season. As a result, the asphalt gets weakened over time, ultimately leading to large amounts of cracking. When this happens, the life expectancy of the asphalt is severely shortened, which can ultimately cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs. To help combat this problem, make sure a hot-mix asphalt pavement is used for your driveway or parking lot, which has been shown to be very effective in combating the freeze-thaw cycle.
While the sun’s UV rays can play havoc with asphalt by soaking into it and causing cracking and oxidation, extremely hot temperatures during the summer can cause a variety of other problems as well. For example, when temperatures get very hot on a new asphalt surface, the result can be the creation of small waves that lead to soft spots in the asphalt. If this happens, cracking can occur very quickly, and in some cases the asphalt surface itself can begin to come apart, leading to potholes and other damage that can be quite costly to repair. To guard against this, regular sealcoating is recommended on a yearly basis, which will protect the asphalt from the hot temperatures and solar radiation that can be so damaging.
While dry weather itself does little direct damage to new asphalt, it can lead to a buildup of dirt, oil, and other substances on the asphalt’s surface. If left unattended, these substances can combine with the asphalt to create a slippery surface, which can lead to slip and fall accidents or auto accidents. To ensure none of this happens, hose down the surface regularly.
While Mother Nature certainly has her fair share of tactics to weaken and damage new asphalt, the good news is you also have plenty of tricks up your sleeve to keep your new asphalt looking and feeling like new. By paying attention to your asphalt and taking appropriate measures when needed, your driveway or parking lot will stay in great shape.