How Does An Asphalt Driveway Get Damaged?

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Benefits of Asphalt Paving

  • The driveway to a home is often the first thing that other people notice about the condition of the property. But in addition to providing more attractive curb appeal, asphalt paving can be long lasting and hard wearing if maintained properly. It also provides a cleaner, semi-smooth surface for driving and parking, cutting down on dust and dirt--not to mention how much easier it makes it to remove snow and ice. Compared to other pavement materials like concrete, asphalt paving costs less, yet can last up to 25 years. Unlike surfaces paved in concrete, asphalt doesn't crack as easily because it is more flexible, which is a great advantage in climates where the different seasons cause temperature extremes. Furthermore, with many consumers today concerned about going "green," asphalt paving is a practical choice because it is a recyclable product.

How Weather Damages Surfaces Paved With Asphalt

  • Weather is the number one culprit responsible for causing damage to surfaces paved with asphalt. Heat from the sun's rays, along with rain, will dry and wear asphalt over time. One of the first signs of wear is a lightening in color. As asphalt paving dries, it becomes brittle. Once water from elements like rain, snow or ice can work its way through the asphalt, the gravel base underneath will begin washing away the foundation, breaking down the asphalt and weakening the driveway's structural support. Frost can do damage as well by lifting the asphalt in cold weather. Although the paving will resettle, as the weather warms and the ground underneath thaws, the foundation will erode over time as this process repeats itself each year.

Unrepaired Cracks Lead to Damage

  • Cracks in asphalt paving allow water to get underneath. To prevent costly damage to the pavement, it's important to repair any cracks immediately. But no matter how well a driveway is maintained, cracks will occur over time, especially in cold weather climates. Even a hairline crack will eventually lead to deterioration of the pavement if left unrepaired; therefore, it is necessary to keep water from penetrating cracks. The higher the number of cracks, or the wider the cracks, the more extensive the damage is likely to be. Cracks can be repaired early on by using a plastic filler or solid cold-patch.

Applying a Sealer Coat Helps to Prevent Premature Damage

  • Spills from oil, transmission fluid and gasoline can damage asphalt paving, too. Sealing a driveway with a coal tar emulsion product can help to protect it, as the coating works to repel chemical and grease spills, in addition to increasing elasticity of the asphalt surface. A newly paved driveway must cure for at least 3 months before applying any type of sealer. While fresh asphalt paving should be coated with a sealer sometime within the first year, after that an asphalt driveway should be sealed only when the old sealer shows signs of wearing off, (e.g. fading color), usually within 2 to 4 years. Just one coat should be applied each time unless the condition of the driveway requires more. Applying sealer too often can cause a buildup that may begin to split, producing an unsightly appearance.

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