Asphalt is a fantastic option if you want a lower maintenance driveway or non-grassed pad that will last and stay looking beautiful for up to 20 years. Although it can get very hot in summer, the weather needs to be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit before you start to see any problems with melting, so generally asphalt works well for the cooler climate found in Syracuse (see here).
Because of its flexibility asphalt is also a great option if you are in an area where you will be getting ground movement, either because of the occasional small earthquake or because of heavy traffic vibrations. In this situation asphalt is preferable to concrete which has a tendency to crack rather than move with the ground. However as it ages, cracks will start to form – but if you keep your asphalt well maintained you will have a surface that will continue to look like new for years.
When Asphalt Goes Bad
Asphalt is 95% stone, sand and gravel mixed with around 5% of asphalt cement. However, it must be heated so that it will mix properly, this also means that it needs to be put down at a certain temperature. Although there are some versions that will cope with colder installation, the general rule is you will need to install your asphalt driveway or pad during late spring through to early autumn. Many of the problems you may have seen with crumbling and cracking are due to the asphalt being laid when the ground and ambient temperature were too cold.
Because of the short timeframe in which you can have your asphalt laid there is obviously a high demand, and you will generally need to book your company earlier rather than later. When you may strike problems is if you encounter a company that says they are able to install your asphalt concrete during the colder season. Although it may work for a few months, putting down asphalt when the ambient temperature is too cold will cause significant problems.
If you talk to a local company like Earth Road Asphalt they will know the local conditions and are able to judge the current years’ temperature to advise you the best time to have your asphalt laid in order to have the best outcome.
Maintenance of Asphalt Surfaces
Although an asphalt concrete is long lasting, it does require maintenance to keep it looking good for years. Generally, all you will need to do is a regular sealcoating. This helps keep the surface flexible meaning that you are less likely to get cracking. However, if you have had a poorly laid asphalt surface sealcoating alone will not be able to repair your asphalt and bring it back to new.
How often you will need to have your asphalt surface seal coated will depend on the volume of traffic that goes over it, and the weight of traffic. Obviously, a business commercial carpark with trucks constantly loading and unloading will require more maintenance than a private driveway that sees too mid-sized cars travel on it twice a day.
Damage and Repairs
The weather is actually one of the biggest causes of damage to asphalt concrete. Tiny gaps in the surface get water in them, but during the winter months in Syracuse when the ambient temperature gets to below freezing. The water in these tiny gaps freeze, causing the water to expand and cause cracks, even potholes, in the asphalt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asphalt#Production
Obviously the first way to minimize this is to ensure that your asphalt has been laid properly in the first place. After that is to ensure that you have your asphalt seal-coated regularly – to find out how regularly you are best to talk to a local specialist. However, eventually you are likely to need to have repairs done to your asphalt.
If you can get someone in to undertake repair work as soon as you first notice any damage then you are more likely to save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run, as once damage starts to occur the surfaces around will also start to degrade as water is able to seep in underneath.
In Syracuse dramatic changes in weather and freezing conditions can make cracks appear seemingly overnight, so keep an eye on your driveway and don’t delay any repairs that you need.