The life span of your asphalt road, parking lot, or driveway will largely depend on the support structure you place below the surface. Similar to the human body, if you don’t take care of the inside, eventually it will reflect on the outside. It is the same with asphalt pavement.There are two main factors that will make the difference between a quality, long lasting asphalt paving project and one that will only last a year or two.
First, is the quality of your aggregate base material commonly referred to as “roadbase”. Roadbase is a blend of different sizes of aggregate specifically designed to support asphalt pavement. It is easy to compact and doesn’t contain any clay or organic matter. Clay, when mixed with water will expand and contract through the freeze/thaw cycle of winter and will break up the asphalt. Organic matter can either deteriorate and cause air voids in the base making your asphalt settle or it can actually sprout weeds that will break through and destroy your asphalt. Many customers/contractors try to cut corners and save money by using a base material other than roadbase. Using something other than roadbase is like putting your money in the garbage.
The second factor is how well water drains from your asphalt surface. This is referred to as “grading”. If water doesn’t properly drain from the surface of your asphalt, it will eventually penetrate the asphalt and oversaturate the base material turning it into mud. In this state, the base material will not support the asphalt above. As cars drive over these saturated areas, the asphalt will break and will continue breaking until the problem is fixed. During the winter, these saturated areas will freeze/thaw making the problem worse. Making sure that your asphalt project is properly graded will save money in asphalt maintenance down the road.