So, your asphalt is fading. No big deal, right? Not exactly. While it’s true that asphalt fading is a natural part of the asphalt aging process, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. As asphalt ages and loses its color, it’s also losing its ability to resist further deterioration. It’s a sign that cracks are more likely to form, that aggregate is more likely to come loose, and water more likely to penetrate the pavement.
In short, asphalt fading is the first sign that maintenance is required. In this case, though, maintenance is easy if scheduled promptly and delivered professionally.
What Causes Asphalt Pavement to Fade?
As soon as asphalt is rolled out, oxygen starts attacking the bitumen contained inside the asphalt. Oxidation is common, and it also affects bitumen.
As the bitumen oxidizes, it loses its color, and that’s not all. Asphalt also loses its flexibility and strength as it ages and turns from a rich black to a dull gray.
Here’s Why it’s Important to Keep Your Asphalt Surface in Good Condition
If your asphalt paving loses its flexibility and strength, it’s only a matter of time before more expensive damage occurs. While fresh asphalt can take heavy loading, thermal stresses and the occasional downpour, aging asphalt is far more likely to fail under the same circumstances.
And once cracks or surface loss start occurring, bigger problems are soon to follow. Potholes, for example, form when water intrudes into the pavement’s deeper layers and compromises them to the point where they become unstable. Cracks and potholes will spread as the problem worsens, and the whole process will mean your asphalt pavement fails years before it should.
There’s Also Curb Appeal to Consider
When people visit any new property, they make judgments. It’s impossible to avoid a first impression, whether you’re operating an apartment complex, a department store, a refinery – you get the idea.
And one of the first things your visitors will see is the state of your pavement. If it looks old and worn, that could be a mark against your brand. It may not be fair, but it happens. If your asphalt looks new and newly striped, then your organization will put their best image forward. For some properties – like apartment communities – that could be a valuable first impression to make.
How Do the Professionals Perform Asphalt Surface Maintenance?
When asphalt is first installed, and every other year thereafter, it should be sealcoated for additional protection. Asphalt sealcoating acts like a layer of protection that shields the pavement from the effects of wear, weather, and chemical exposure. Further, it can refresh the asphalt’s flexibility and act as a binder when the pavement is under stress.
When professionals apply sealcoat, they usually apply it in two thin layers, instead of a single thicker layer. This promotes uniform drying through the sealcoat and produces the intended durability-enhancing effects. Sealcoat can be applied using a handheld spray applicator or even with brooms and Squeegees. Well-resourced contractors, though, will use a truck or skid-mounted applicator. This expedites the sealcoating process and allows the pavement team to cover a larger area in less time. This is helpful for that sprawling parking lot you don’t want shut down.
What About the Pavement’s Marking After Sealcoating?
Following sealcoating, your property’s parking lots, driveways and roads will have their like-new appearance. What might be gone, though, is the pavement’s striping.
Pavement teams can replace your pavement’s striping following sealcoating. In fact, it’s recommended that property owners have their parking lots restriped every other year, just like with sealcoating. It’s common for both services to be scheduled at once to maximize the curb appeal boost.
If the Pavement’s Surface Has Noticeable Damage, Consider a Repair
If your pavement has deteriorated to the point where cracks, potholes and other signs of damage are present, sealcoating alone won’t do the job. More extensive repairs are called for. Some options include:
- Crack filling – Crack filling is a frontline repair method for asphalt and involves injecting rubberized asphalt into any cracks. If caught early enough, this will prevent the crack from spreading further and provide a flexible seal against water.
- Cutting and patching – During a cut and patch job, all failed areas of asphalt are first identified. It’s common for older parking lots, for example, to have several small spots where the pavement has completely failed, and water is collecting.
Once identified, the pavement team will sawcut around the failed areas and extract the cut asphalt. The existing rock base is then stabilized, new base materials are installed, and it’s all compacted to restore subsurface integrity.
A tack coat, which acts like an adhesive between old and new pavement, is applied to all surfaces inside the cut-out hole, and new hot mix is placed using a paver. This is then rolled to compaction. The new patch will be immediately ready for vehicle traffic.
- Overlaying – During an asphalt overlay, the surface layers of the existing pavement are removed and replaced. This process is recommended every 10 years and can greatly extend the pavement’s life.
First, the existing asphalt is pulverized down to a predetermined depth (usually a couple inches). The pulverized asphalt is removed or spread over existing rock to control dust. Any base failures are identified and addressed, just like with a cut and patch job. Once the base is stabilized, the existing pavement is tack coated and a new hot asphalt mix is applied. A roller then compacts the asphalt before it’s allowed to cure for 24 to 48 hours.
- Full-depth reclamation – When an overlay isn’t enough, it’s likely time for full depth replacement or reclamation. Full-depth reclamation (FDR) is a newer replacement option and ensures more of the old asphalt is recycled and incorporated into the new pavement.
During FDR, the old asphalt is pulverized through its entire depth, including the base. This is then mixed with cement and water to stabilize it, and then compacted. This newly stabilized base is then tack coated and a new surface course of hot asphalt mix is applied. The entire process can be handled onsite, with pulverizing and mixing managed by specialized reclamation equipment.
Don’t Ignore Asphalt Fading – an Expert Pavement Team Can Restore its Appearance and Performance
Just because you have asphalt fading doesn’t mean it’s near the end of its useful life. If regularly sealcoated and maintained, asphalt can last for decades. Ideally, that maintenance would be performed by a reputable team because expert maintenance is long-lasting maintenance.
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