You have a brand new asphalt surface, and you’re “good to go,” right? If it has been planned and well installed, it should be something you won’t have to think about daily, but it’s critical to know what to look for, what to do when a problem is identified and when to perform preventative maintenance.

Once a new asphalt surface is installed – as a roadway, parking lot or driveway – its life can be very much extended by monitoring for problems (and fixing them as they arise) and performing certain maintenance steps at key intervals. If the maintenance steps are performed at key times during its life, the longer its life should be.

The Role of Preventative Maintenance in Asphalt’s Life
Since asphalt pavement is an investment, you want to take care of that investment…helping it serve its purpose well and last for many years. The overall goal is to incorporate preventative maintenance at key times within its overall lifespan. There are two categories of work to be performed on all asphalt surfaces:

  • Repairs: Whether a parking lot, a driveway or a roadway, it’s imperative to scan its surface (say, monthly) to identify any problem areas. Is there standing water? Are there visible cracks or potholes forming? See related article for more information about this. [Click Here]
  • Planned maintenance: All asphalt surfaces need to be periodically resealed to ensure their structural integrity. Failing to do this will drastically increase the occurrence of cracks and potholes, as well as shorten the overall lifespan of the surface.

Timing is everything.
Seemingly small problems can evolve into larger, more expensive problems quickly. Putting off planned maintenance for a year or two may cost much more in the long run, with you having to perform large-scale repairs or fully replace the surface sooner than otherwise would have been necessary. 

Bottom line:
Performing preventative maintenance while the asphalt is in good condition (the green zone) can save you from more extensive maintenance work required when the asphalt has deteriorated further (the red zone).

In the graph above, you can see the typical lifespan curve of an asphalt surface. In the early years, it looks and “holds up” well. As time progresses, exposure to the elements and vehicles takes its cumulative toll, and the overall condition deteriorates at a faster rate. The key is to “inject” proper maintenance to slow the rate of the downward curve, extending the overall usefulness of the surface and extending its total lifespan.

Pavement Maintenance, According to the FHWA
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) uses several definitions when it comes to roadways. Generally, they can also apply to asphalt parking lots and driveways. In some ways, there is overlap among the definitions.

  • Pavement preservation: Programs and activities employing a network level, long-term strategy that enhances pavement performance by using an integrated, cost-effective set of practices that extend pavement life, improve safety and meet road user expectations.
  • Pavement rehabilitation: Structural enhancements that extend the service life of an existing pavement and/or improve its load-carrying capacity.
  • Pavement reconstruction: Replacement of the entire existing pavement structure by the placement of the equivalent or increased pavement structure.

Planning to Maximize the Life of an Asphalt Surface
Ironically, when pavement is structurally sound, without signs of significant “problem areas,” it often proves to be the ideal time to perform preventative maintenance. This may consist of periodically filling minor cracks and applying a seal coating.

How can you best maximize the lifespan of an asphalt surface? Work with your trusted asphalt installation and maintenance company. From assessing its current state and recommending any immediate action, to outlining a maintenance program with projected future dates for preventative maintenance work, you can better plan future maintenance expenditures to maximize the overall investment. In the meantime, your asphalt surface will better serve its purpose (and look better!) for all the years in between significant work (and, ultimately, an eventual replacement).

Galt Development can help with “all things asphalt”: PARKING LOTS, POTHOLES, PATCHWORK, PAVEMENT. Contact us for a free inspection and guidance to help you manage your asphalt surfaces.