There are plenty of good reasons to install an asphalt driveway. Once it cures, asphalt is strong, flexible, long-lasting, and beautiful. It can withstand years of wear and tear with only minimal maintenance in just about any climate. That said, no driveway material will last forever.
Read on to find out about five factors that contribute to asphalt driveway degradation over time to get an idea of how to avoid premature driveway failures.
- Parked Vehicles
Parking a vehicle in the same spot all the time, whether it is a heavy-duty truck or a compact car, can eventually cause subsiding around the tires’ contact points. Over time, it can lead to uneven compaction of the driveway’s granular base. The most common sign of uneven base compaction is cracking, but under heavy vehicles, the asphalt may also lose its shape.
When any of these signs of trouble arise, call in Paving Professionals to perform repairs as soon as possible to avoid more damage. It’s also wise to consider switching up parking spaces once in a while, especially during periods of hot weather.
- Freezing and Thawing
In areas prone to severe temperature fluctuations, freezing and thawing can take their toll on asphalt driveways. Water can seep through cracks in the driveway and into the base, causing the material to swell when it freezes. Over time, the repeated freezing and thawing can damage not just the base but also the paved surface.
The small cracks that allowed water to infiltrate will grow larger over time. Eventually, they can cause the need for a complete driveway reconstruction. It’s always better to fill the cracks while they are small to prevent water infiltration.
- UV Light
One of the ingredients used in mixing asphalt, called bitumen, is sensitive to UV light. The bitumen is included to give asphalt pavement its elasticity, but eventually, sun exposure hardens it and it loses that elasticity. The aggregates bound up in the bitumen can start to crumble, causing cracks to appear. The oxidation of bitumen also causes the asphalt to turn gray. Call a paving contractor as soon as the pavement starts becoming discolored or small cracks start to appear to avoid water infiltration into the base.
- Soaked-In Oil
It’s important to clean up fresh oil stains quickly. If property owners clean up the oil as soon as they notice the stains, it won’t damage the asphalt. It’s only when oil has enough time to soak in that it causes problems. Like UV light, oil can degrade the bitumen, causing it to lose its elasticity.
- Water Absorption
Asphalt is a porous material, which means rain and snowmelt can infiltrate it. Over time, the water hardens the bitumen, causing the aggregates to break down and accelerating surface erosion. At first, the water will only deepen existing cracks. At some point, though, it can penetrate beneath the surface of the asphalt to soften the underlayer. Severe water damage caused by flooding can weaken the asphalt, eventually causing it to crack under heavy loads.
The Importance of Regular Maintenance
The best way to keep an asphalt driveway looking its best is to schedule regular maintenance with a qualified paving contractor. Resealing the asphalt can help to prevent damage from water, sunlight, and other stressors, helping the driveway maintain its structural integrity and longevity.