Certain times are better than others when it comes to laying asphalt and paving driveways or parking lots. Find out more about the right time to pave below.
When alligator cracks or potholes plague your asphalt driveway in the middle of winter what do you do? Either you brave the potholes and risk your alignment, or you avoid parking in the driveway altogether. Neither is a practical or convenient solution.
While winter isn’t the ideal time for laying asphalt, it’s also not the worst time of year for your paving project.
Paving happens all year long, but the weather does matter. Take a minute and read about the best time to redo a driveway.
Asphalt Likes It Warm
Even here in Texas where winters are usually mild, it does get cold enough to delay paving projects, but it isn’t only air temperature that matters. Ground temperature matters too.
Generally, the magic number is 50.
Most asphalt applications need both ambient (air) and ground temperatures of a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, the temperatures should rise above 50 degrees during the installation and compaction processes.
Why does temperature matter?
Keep in mind the texture of asphalt during installation. It’s wet and slightly lumpy. The paving crew uses a range of tools, including rollers to smooth and compact the asphalt. If the asphalt pavement cools too quickly, you’ll end up with a rough surface that retains water.
While air and ground temperature matters, so do the temperature of the asphalt mix.
How Hot Is Hot Asphalt?
Judging by its name—Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA)—you’ve figured out you’re dealing with heat, right? What you might not know is asphalt plants mix this product at 275-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Not only is this asphalt product mixed at a hot temperature, but it must also stay hot during the paving and compaction process. If air and ground temperatures don’t rise during installation, you’re at risk of rapid cooling.
Perhaps you’ve also heard of cold mix asphalt and you’re wondering why we can’t use it to pave your driveway.
While cold mix asphalt does work well for repairing small cracks and potholes it’s not as strong as HMA. It’s mainly used as a temporary patch until temperatures warm up enough to use the hot mix product.
The Ideal Time for Laying Asphalt
While we can’t lay asphalt in the rain, we can still pave a driveway during the winter months if the ground isn’t frozen.
That said, unless you have an emergency situation where you can’t use your driveway due to large potholes, you may want to wait until spring or fall. This ensures warmer air and ground temperatures.
The reason paving crews can’t install asphalt during or immediately after a rainstorm is because of the way temperature affects how HMA flows. If the mix can’t flow, it also won’t compact the right way. Without proper compaction, your driveway won’t last as long.
Need to Schedule a Paving Project?
Now that you know more about how air and ground temperature affects the way asphalt paving products work, you can start planning the best time for your paving project.
We can discuss if now is the best time for specific asphalt services or if we need to use another method for repair.