How to Extend the Life of Your Asphalt

17 August, 15 / Asphalt Repairs, Crack Seal, Pavement Maintenance

Well designed and constructed asphalt pavements can provide many years of useful service – if properly maintained.  An effective asphalt maintenance program will dramatically increase the useful life of your roads, while postponing the need for the considerable expense of reconstruction.  Asphalt can be viewed in much the same way as wood.  If wood is left untreated, it will be destroyed by elements of weather including sun, oxidation, and water.

A good preventive maintenance program will actually save money in the long run, while providing a surface that is attractive and easy to clean.

So what are the steps in extending the life cycle of asphalt pavements?


The first step in maintaining asphalt pavement is regular sweeping.  Sweeping removes sand and grit that accumulates on the surface.  If it is not removed, this grit will act as an abrasive.  Over time it will remove the top stratum of pavement or surface treatment, and permit water intrusion into the pavement structure.  Each property should be evaluated individually. But sweeping 2 to 6 times per year is generally recommended.


PV Crack Seal AZ Project SunlandAs pavement ages, cracks will begin to appear.  These cracks should be addressed before any surface treatment is started.  Crack sealing is one of the best early preventive maintenance measures to prolong asphalt life.  Paving engineers agree that “working” cracks ¼ inch and wider should be sealed.  There is very little benefit in sealing “alligator” or fatigue type cracks, as these usually indicate base failure and should be sawcut, removed and replaced.  Prior to sealing, cracks must be dry and thoroughly cleaned with a high pressure air compressor.  For parking lot use, a hot-applied, rubberized crack sealant is recommended.


For areas exhibiting base failure, the most effective repair is removal and replacement.  Initial phase of the process is to saw cut outside the perimeter of the affected area.  The distressed asphalt is excavated and the base is compacted and/or replaced.  The edges of the existing pavement should then be tacked with SS1H asphalt emulsion.  The repair is completed by placing the appropriate amount of hot mix asphalt, raking, and properly compacting.  In low areas, it may be possible to perform a surface repair commonly known as “skin patching”.  This procedure should only be used after making sure that the new patch will not interfere with drainage.  The area is cleaned and tacked with a solid coat of SS1H emulsion.  A thin layer of finely graded hot mix asphalt is then placed, raked, and properly compacted.


If left untreated, asphalt roads will eventually be destroyed by elements of weather.  Sun and oxidation dry out the asphalt mix and leave the pavement brittle.  Loose stones begin to ravel from the asphalt and the surface becomes rough and faded.  Rain and water from irrigation further erode the pavement’s cohesive strength.  Sealcoating will protect an asphalt pavement by sealing in the vital oils of the asphalt mix and sealing out sun, oxidation and water.  Parking lot sealcoating is normally accomplished with two coats of a high grade asphalt emulsion applied by spray or squeegee.  It should be noted that, in addition to extending the pavement’s life, sealcoating improves the appearance of the road with a uniform black color that is appealing to homeowners and prospective homeowners.


Keeping pavement markings fresh and sharp can improve both the appearance and the functionality of a parking lot.  Fuzzy or faded markings may send an unclear and/or unsafe message.  Care should be taken to establish the proper striping lay-out, and lines should be uniform.  All legends, stenciling, and other traffic symbols should be accomplished with templates.  It is important to make sure that striping complies with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as all local ordinances.

Your Pavement Preservation Partner

By ensuring your asphalt is properly maintained, you will be rewarded with cost savings and attractive, long-lasting roads and parking areas.  For over 35 years, Sunland Asphalt has completed pavement maintenance projects such as crack sealing, asphalt repairs, sealcoating and striping.  For more information on our services and or a free estimate, call us today at 1.800.540.4413!