Any paved surface will eventually begin to wear down, and it’s often due to the inevitable effects that rough weather has on that surface over time. However, paved surfaces that are installed and maintained properly can remain in great shape for a very long time. Here’s how weather effects pavement, and what can be done to protect your investment in a driveway or parking lot.

How the Weather Effects Pavement

Temperature changes, especially those that you experience going from winter into spring, are typically responsible for the most serious damage to pavement. However, both heat and cold can be just as damaging, depending on the circumstance.

Potholes and frost heaves, the most significant types of damage pavement, are both caused by water freezing, which results in expansion. Water seeping into pavement and then freezing places pressure on the ground, which can create frost heaves if the pressure comes from below. Meanwhile, once this frozen water melts, it leaves behind gaps in the pavement that can then create cracks or potholes.

An indicator of weak pavement is fatigue cracking. Sometimes called “crocodile” cracking as the cracks form in a net pattern that resembles reptile scales, they are caused by wear and tear, either from excess traffic above or frost heaves below. Fatigue cracks should be addressed promptly because they indicate existing weaknesses; if these cracks go unaddressed, they provide avenues for seeping water, which will then cause further damage.

At the same time, warmer climates present their own unique challenges for pavment. A condition called “bleeding” or “flushing” can occur on asphalt, and it’s often the result of pavement being subjected to consistently warm temperatures and direct sunlight. This phenomenon causes asphalt in the pavement to break through or mingle with its seal coating rise to the top. This changes road surface conditions that can lead to increased wear and tear, reduced traction, and lower skid resistance.

How can I protect my driveway and parking lot paving?

There are many short-term fixes for damaged pavement. Addressing cracks and potholes is important in order to protect driveways and parking lots. It’s much more cost effective to ensure you maintain your pavement than having to replace it, so if you’ve invested in driveway or parking lot, you need to consider taking these basic steps.

Long-lasting paving begins with proper installation. Pavers need to account for how much weight or traffic the surface will regularly receive and ensure that the pavement’s subbase layer and underlying soil are as water-resistant as possible.

While customers must sometimes build over soil susceptible to frost heaves, they can still be careful to hire a paver who uses quality materials for their sub base.
Asphalt bleeding can be managed with coarse sand to add traction. However, a longer-term solution may require resurfacing if the problem persists. With bleeding caused by heat and humidity, these conditions should improve with cooler weather.

Reducing the traffic stress on the pavement while frost heaves are thawing can help to lessen the likelihood of potholes. Many states enforce “frost law” weight restrictions to protect their roads, but this is often impractical when it comes to parking lot paving. Parking lots affected by frost heaves may be able to redirect drivers using traffic cones.

It’s important to remember that frost heaves and potholes are not the result of temperature alone and require frozen water to form. That means special attention needs to be paid to drainage and waterproofing; if you can prevent water from accumulating on your paving, many related problems can be reduced or even eliminated. To effectively waterproof pavement, you should have all cracks quickly patched and have seal coating applied if necessary.

Want to learn more about maintaining your driveway and parking lot? Check out this Pavement Interactive and this in-depth guide from the University of Minnesota. Need your own pavement repaired? Contact us today for more information.