Asphalt is much more malleable than concrete, which gives it many advantages but makes it more susceptible to damage under extreme heat. Excessive heat can cause softening, sloughing, pitting, and might deform your asphalt under heavy loads. It can also cause bruising, which occurs when a vehicle turns their front tires on a newly paved surface, creating what looks like a bruise. It is crucial to understand that bruising is common on freshly paved asphalt during the hottest summer temperatures and does not cause permanent harm to the asphalt mat. It just doesn’t look nice.
There’s not much that homeowners can do to prepare for heat other than using precautions against softer asphalt. During extreme heat, try to keep heavy vehicles from sitting in one spot for an extended period and avoid using tools and objects that can scratch or dent your asphalt like automotive jacks. Also, it would be best if you can allow more than one day after the paving has been completed before driving on the surface.
Do not attempt to spend extended time on a hot asphalt driveway. Asphalt absorbs heat, making your driveway much hotter than the surrounding environment. Never walk barefoot or take pets on asphalt during extreme heat.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is extreme cold. Again, asphalt is more dynamic than concrete, so it’s more susceptible to extreme cold. Like extreme heat causes asphalt to become soft, extreme cold causes asphalt to become harder and stronger – but also more brittle.
The best thing homeowners can do during extreme cold is to be careful around their asphalt, especially edges where the asphalt is more likely to chip or break off. Avoid all heavy loads on your driveway’s borders during bitter cold temperatures.
Standing water looks innocent enough on top of your asphalt, but it can slowly seep through your asphalt and cause issues like softening, displacement, and cracking. Always brush off puddles whenever you see them to keep your asphalt healthier. If your asphalt continuously puddles in an area, have an asphalt contractor evaluate the possibility of permanent repairs and achieving better drainage. Seal coat also helps slow the process of water damage to the surface of the asphalt.
Water running underneath your asphalt is an even greater enemy than standing water. Groundwater can displace asphalt and its base, leaving you with pits, cracks, collapsing asphalt, and potholing. If you’ve tried everything and can’t figure out why your asphalt is continuously cracking or pitting, ask a professional to look for a groundwater issue. If you can identify the issue, you can readjust drainage or stop the source.
UV rays age both people and inanimate objects – like your asphalt. The sun oxidizes the oil in your asphalt, degrading its ability to glue the asphalt rocks together. But UV damage can be mitigated by resealing your asphalt. At Colorado Pavement Solutions, we recommend resealing your asphalt every five to six years.
Asphalt is oil-based, but extra oil is no good for your asphalt, especially diesel stains. If you have a leaky vehicle, try to put an oil catch underneath or park it in a different spot to avoid extra damage. If you have an oil stain on your asphalt, you can apply cat litter on top of the stain overnight to absorb the excess before cleaning the rest with a stiff brush and dish detergent. Never try to clean oil stains with solvents or citrus-based cleaning agents.
Trees and Roots
Roots can snake for yards and are continuously growing. You can install an asphalt driveway with no issues only to spot cracks and upheaval a few years later once roots have crawled underneath your asphalt’s foundation. It’s difficult to mitigate all trees and roots but consider removing trees or at least severing roots that are running toward your driveway.
Asphalt can handle most vehicles but might have a problem with excessively heavy loads. If possible, avoid extreme weight, especially on extremely hot or cold days, and always try to keep excess weight away from the borders of your driveway where cracking and chipping is more likely to occur. The good news is most asphalt at least 6″ thick for commercial parking lots or 4″ for residential driveways can tolerate normal heavy loads.
Lack of Sealcoating
Proper asphalt maintenance includes regularly sealcoating your blacktop to protect against oil oxidation in your asphalt from constant sun and water exposure. Asphalt that’s not regularly sealed is much more likely to experience the above issues, so maintain a proper seal for the most extended life.
Beating the Biggest Enemies of Asphalt
Asphalt is one of the most popular paving materials in the U.S. for good reason, but it does have several enemies that will try to wear it down. Follow the above advice and keep your asphalt sealed for the longest possible asphalt lifespan.