Asphalt is a preferred paving material due to its cost efficiency and durability. But while it can last for years, the asphalt pavement will eventually show signs of deterioration or damage. Even with proper care and regular maintenance, heavy use and exposure to the elements can result in small cracks in the surface. Over time, these cracks can become bigger and damage its foundation.
The asphalt pavement is vulnerable to freeze-thaw climate, which causes the ground to expand and contract. The freeze-thaw cycle also hastens water damage. Once water seeps through tiny cracks, it freezes and expands, causing larger cracks. Without proper sealcoating, cracks can become apparent as soon as the first year.
Other elements can damage the asphalt – vegetation, tree roots, earth movement, and oil leaks. All of these can lead to major cracks. If your asphalt has major, deep cracks, you need to assess the severity of the problem and find the right method to fix it.
Applying a new layer over a worn-out asphalt surface is a common solution. Many homeowners think it is a cost-effective and quick solution to their asphalt driveway woes. After all, a fresh asphalt layer can restore the smooth, shiny, and deep black aesthetics of your home’s curb. But is it the best one in your case?
Let’s explore asphalt overlay and its pros and cons.
What is an Asphalt Overlay?
As the name suggests, asphalt overlay or resurfacing is a repair strategy wherein a fresh asphalt layer is applied over an old pavement. Typically, the new layer is 1.5-inch thick.
The existing asphalt surface serves as added support for a more durable pavement. But while it is cheaper than a complete remake, asphalt overlay only refreshes the surface. As such, it is important to assess the structural integrity of its foundation.
Experts from CSG Sealcoating, Orlando, point out that if the base is intact and strong, the asphalt overlay will last long. However, if the base is already damaged, resurfacing without repairing the base may be futile. Compared to asphalt removal and reinstallation that can last around 20 to 30 years, asphalt overlay can only last 10 to 15 years. Of course, climate conditions, maintenance, usage, and other factors can affect its life span.
What are the Pros and Cons of Asphalt Overlay?
When deciding on the best approach to your damaged asphalt driveway, you should consider the following advantages and disadvantages of the asphalt overlay.
· Asphalt overlay is cheaper than removal and reinstallation.
· Asphalt overlay takes faster to complete (1-2 days depending on the area).
· Asphalt overlay can be used right away once it cures.
· Asphalt overlay looks like brand new pavement.
· Asphalt overlay may mask structural problems or damages with pavement’s foundation.
· Asphalt overlay, if not done right, can still show the imperfections of the existing pavement.
· Asphalt overlay offers a shorter life span as compared to new paving.
· Asphalt overlay will eventually reveal the cracks, potholes, and damaged patterns over time.
When to Choose Asphalt Overlay?
Asphalt overlay is generally recommended if the existing pavement has minor issues like small cracks, uneven surface, or little water damage.
An experienced paving contractor or an engineer can help you assess your existing asphalt pavement. Some things to consider with the existing surface:
- A structurally sound base
- Adequate drainage
- Surface clean and free of the large debris
- Old asphalt layer capable of binding with asphalt overlay (no deterioration of the binder)
- No large or deep cracking in the pavement
If the existing asphalt pavement does not meet these criteria, an overlay may not fix the problem. Hence, removing and replacing the old surface is better than applying an overlay in some cases. While it is the cheaper option, the financial advantage should not be the sole determinant for your decision. It would help if you decided based on the condition of your existing asphalt driveway.
Going with an asphalt overlay with a severely damaged driveway can be a waste of money. Sooner or later, you’ll end up spending on costly repairs. So, as much as possible, choose an asphalt repair method to avoid expensive, numerous, and extensive maintenance. Don’t settle with asphalt overlay for the savings, rather for the quality and outcome.