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4 Major Factors That Can Affect the Life of Your Asphalt Surface

Construction & Contractors Articles

For many businesses, an asphalt parking surface can be a sizable investment that needs to pay for itself over time. Given constant and timely maintenance, the average asphalt parking lot can last for 15 to 20 years before it needs to be completely rebuilt. However, there are plenty of factors that could lengthen or cut short this estimate.

If you want to get the most out of your investment, then it's important to understand the factors that can affect the life your asphalt surface.

Environmental Factors

Location plays a key role in how long your asphalt surface will last. Live in a desert climate where temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit are the norm? Or how about a colder climate where the temperature is below-freezing for most of the year? Just about every location has its own unique effects on asphalt longevity.

For example, the constant freezing and thawing cycles experienced in northern areas of the United States and Canada can cause the asphalt to expand and contract, creating surface cracks that allow water to penetrate. Subsequent freezing and thawing cycles will enlarge the cracks, leading to potholes and other severe surface imperfections.

Likewise, a hot and dry desert climate can cause the asphalt to oxidize faster, leaving the surface extraordinarily brittle. Combine that with constant exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight and you have a situation where the asphalt surface is likely to age faster and eventually fail sooner than expected.

A brand-new asphalt surface may have to have modifications to withstand climate-specific factors. For instance, modified asphalt binders may be required in extreme climate conditions to help forestall accelerated aging.

Overall Upkeep and Maintenance

How you care for your asphalt parking surface also plays a crucial role in judging its life expectancy. Regularly scheduled maintenance is essential for a long-lasting parking surface, whereas poor or sporadic maintenance can take a toll on its performance and life expectancy.

Practice maintenance is also essential for heading off major problems that could grow from minor issues that were ignored. For instance, a regular crack filling regimen can help prevent water seepage and crack expansion, thus extending the life expectancy of the pavement. Sealcoating can also prevent water seepage and slow down pavement oxidization.

Regularly scheduled inspection is also critical. A seasoned expert can spot cracks and other stressed areas that can be mended before those areas become worse.

Traffic Loads

Does your business experience heavy traffic during much of its operating hours? Or does the traffic in and flow, with exceptionally light traffic being the rule for much of the day? The amount of traffic your parking lot experiences on a regular basis can determine how long it'll last.

As loading patterns change, so can the lifespan of the asphalt surface. A business that historically sees light parking lot traffic might have to have its surface redone much sooner if business traffic doubles and remains that way for months or even years on end.

Believe it or not, having too little traffic can be just as bad as having too much traffic. As it turns out, consistently light loading can make the asphalt surface brittle in a shorter amount of time, with cracks developing from shrinkage throughout the surface.

Water Drainage

Last but not least, the effectiveness of your asphalt parking lot's water drainage can also determine its life expectancy. Poor surface water drainage and high levels of water saturation can cause the underlying base to weaken, allowing the asphalt surface to systemically weaken.

While poor drainage can cause premature failures of the asphalt surface, excellent water drainage can add years to your parking lot's service. A thorough inspection of the parking lot and its water drainage design can help identify potential problems early on, allowing you the opportunity to repair those issues earlier before they become expensive problems later on.

For more information or assistance, get in touch with companies like Armour Pavement Inc.

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14 September 2015