Maintain Your Asphalt Pavement's Flexibility To Prevent Damage

Usually, asphalt is thought of as hard and durable. In reality, however, one of the most important qualities of asphalt is its flexibility. Whether used in a residential driveway, a commercial parking lot, or a high-traffic highway, asphalt paving is subjected to a lot of stress. In addition to the weight of vehicles crossing or parking on the pavement, the ground beneath the pavement also shifts and moves, particularly in areas with cold winters and warm summers.

The more rigid a paving material is, the more these stresses cause it to crack. This is something that you often see in older asphalt which has lost some of its original flexibility. Asphalt in good condition, on the other hand, has the ability to flex, expand, and contract.

How Can You Maintain Your Pavement's Flexibility?

Asphalt loses flexibility as it gets older. It's not exactly age that does it, however. It would be more accurate to say that asphalt continues to cure over time, and this causes it to become stiffer and stiffer. This is where seal coating comes in: you want to apply the first coat of sealant to new asphalt pavement when it has cured to the ideal flexibility.

This means that sealant shouldn't be applied to new pavement right away. Instead, at least six to twelve months of curing should occur first. As the asphalt sits exposed to oxygen and UV rays, it will gradually harden; then, when the seal coat is applied, it will be protected from the oxygen and UV rays and stop curing.

Seal coating needs to be periodically reapplied as it wears away. It's usually recommended to do this every three years. If you want to test whether your asphalt's seal coat is still in good condition, you can get an idea by spraying water on the asphalt. If it beads up and rolls off or evaporates, your asphalt is sealed. If it soaks down into the pavement, the sealant has worn away and is no longer protecting the pavement.

What About Flexible Repairs To Asphalt Pavement?

When asphalt pavement does crack, you might wonder how that affects its future flexibility. The first thing that you should know is that once the pavement has cracked, these cracks need to be repaired before the asphalt can be sealed again. And since cracks can also worsen over time, repairing them quickly is a good idea.

The cracks themselves are fixed in one of two ways: filled or sealed. This depends on whether flexibility is needed – in which case a flexible sealant is used – or if the cracks are small enough that they can simply be filled with cheaper but inflexible material. Either way, once the pavement is repaired you should resume the normal schedule of seal coating to minimize further cracking and damage. Contact a local paving contractor, like LSC Construction Services, Inc., for further help.