This time of year, concrete paving contractors are everywhere as they fill in the cracks and potholes that a season of snow and rain left behind on the roads. The damage that weather-related cracks and potholes can do to vehicles is literally in the billions in America alone, with the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimating that the average price per driver in the US is around $300 every year.

Whether it’s your driveway or your sidewalk or whether it’s your local residential road or the closest interstate, wear and tear slowly but surely chips away at these paved surfaces. Constantly being infiltrated by water, which then expands while it freezes, leaves behind wider cracks for even more water to infiltrate during the next thaw. Concrete, asphalt, or any other paving material — it all breaks down eventually, but concrete paving contractors know exactly what to do to get your pavement back in the fight against the elements. Here’s how they do it.

Filling Cracks

An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, and concrete paving contractors know that catching damage early in the cycle is the most effective way to preserve the life of the pavement. Filling cracks as they appear halts their spread right in their tracks and can prevent having to revisit those same cracks in a few months or seasons for more serious repair work.

Crack repair is simple and straightforward. First, any dirt or vegetation that’s collected in these cracks needs to be cleared out. Next, these cracks are allowed to dry completely before beginning to fill them in. Materials used to fill such cracks are many, but are often either a mix of fine sand and liquid asphalt or an asphalt emulsion.

Larger Patch Jobs

Sometimes you don’t get to a stretch of pavement in time to stop cracks from spreading. This happens quite often, as it can sometimes be difficult to spot cracks until they become large enough to be unavoidable. At this point, these once-small cracks can grow to potholes or an even larger patchwork of cracks resembling the skin of a reptile. Unsurprisingly, concrete paving contractors call these alligator patches!

Fixing these larger jobs require cutting out the entire piece of pavement that’s been affected. Once this is done, the sub-base under the old asphalt gets a once-over, compacting it back down in any places it needs to be, before giving it a tack coating to help bond with the incoming patch. The patch goes down in layers: first a course of base material, then new surface asphalt. Each layer is compacted in turn, and then everything is rolled smooth. finally, the edges of the patch are coated to prevent water from seeping back in.

Overlays and Sealcoating

For massive repaving jobs, today many concrete paving contractors use overlays, which creates new surfaces over existing asphalt. More often than not a paving fabric is laid down on the existing asphalt to help bond the old and new layers together. Then, like with patches, the new overlay is rolled smooth so that it’s flush with the existing pavement.

Finally, sealcoating can be used to provide additional preventative care to overlays or other large repaving jobs. A sealcoat can extend the life of pavement by anywhere from two to three years — and coincidentally it also keeps the newly-paved overlay from losing its brand-new look. It’s an added expense, but it usually pays for itself in no time!