If you have a parking lot or any other large space, you’ll need asphalt services at some point in your business lifespan. Potholes, cracked pavement, and faded lot striping are not only unsightly, but also a potential safety risk for you and your customers.
But how do you know when asphalt needs servicing? What kind of services do you need? If there are cracks, does the whole thing need to be redone or can it just be filled or resealed? How can you find an asphalt service that will do a good job?
In this blog, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about asphalt services, including all of the above questions. Understanding how asphalt works and when it needs repairs will help ensure your customer and employee safety, as well as giving you a long-lasting, visually appealing lot to attract customers.
What is Asphalt?
Understanding what asphalt is can help you better understand why upkeep is so important. At its most basic, asphalt is a mixture of materials including aggregates (a mixture of hard materials like sand, crushed stone, and rock dust), binder (a sort of cement that holds the asphalt together), and filler.
There are multiple kinds of asphalt suited for different purposes. Hot mix asphalt (HMA) is heated and used in large-scale paving jobs, such as large parking lots and roads. Cold mix asphalt, which is not heated, is better for short-term fixes and patches rather than entire jobs. HMA is more weather resistant and durable than cold mix asphalt—in fact, cold mix asphalt isn’t really appropriate for surfaces that will have frequent vehicle traffic.
Warm mix asphalt is a more recent invention and can offer a lot of benefits over traditional HMA, particularly environmental and working condition benefits. As a newer product, long-term testing is still underway to discover if warm mix asphalt is as sturdy and moisture-resistant as HMA.
How Often Does Asphalt Need Work?
Because there are many kinds of asphalt services and temperature, moisture, and traffic vary between locations, it’s impossible to pin down exactly how often you need to service asphalt. Instead, try to stay on the lookout for issues as they arise, consulting a trusted asphalt service like Transblue if you have questions or concerns.
Some signs that your asphalt may need service include:
- CracksCracks are a clear sign that your asphalt has suffered some damage, but, more importantly, they’re an opportunity for moisture to seep in and cause more damage.
Cracks may come in a variety of sizes and depths, but one thing in particular to look out for is what’s known as an “alligator crack.” These are shallow cracks that may stretch over a large area, causing a webbing effect that looks similar to a reptile’s scales. These cracks can indicate a problem in the asphalt base, so catching them early on is important to your lot’s structure.
If you see cracks appearing in your parking lot, it’s time to call a professional.
- Warping and Water Accumulation
Asphalt should be smooth and level. If you’re starting to see raised bumps or dips in your lot, that could indicate numerous problems an asphalt professional can address, including a problem with your base or buckling due to heavy traffic.
Any dips in asphalt can also contribute to moisture accumulation, which can seep down and potentially cause more damage. If you see pooling water in your lot, contact a professional to work on leveling or drainage solutions.
A professional can evaluate whether your asphalt is in need of repaving or just sealing.
Stains are a consequence of vehicle traffic—cars and trucks may leak oil or gasoline on your surface, which not only looks unsightly but can actually cause damage to asphalt binding. If you notice stains on your asphalt, contact a professional to evaluate whether there is any damage being done to the asphalt as a whole.
Older asphalt that’s unprotected by curbs or other boundaries can begin to crumble into smaller pieces. Once this occurs, it can spread throughout a lot, causing increasing amounts of damage the longer it’s allowed to continue. If you notice the edges of your asphalt beginning to disintegrate, contact a professional to evaluate the best course of action, whether that’s repaving altogether or just replacing the asphalt that’s affecting and adding a curb or similar boundary.
What Types of Asphalt Services Are There?
Not every job requires a full repaving. Becoming familiar with the many different services asphalt companies can offer can help you better understand what they’re offering, what’s necessary, and what exactly will be done on your lot.
Asphalt companies can offer many different services, but here are some of the ones you’re most likely to run into.
The simplest asphalt service to explain is paving, which can be a new installation or an overlay.
A new installation is exactly what it sounds like—old pavement is broken up and removed and replaced with entirely new pavement. This is the most extensive repair option, as it requires not just laying the new asphalt, but also prepping the bases, grading your surface, and testing to make sure everything is secure.
An overlay is sort of like an extended patch job—a surface with cracking and potholes may not require an entire renovation, but may need more than just spot filling. In this case, asphalt may see some rebuilding in particular problem areas, such as potholes, and then repaved. This is less intensive, but isn’t suitable for all cases, as many issues must be solved at the asphalt base level rather than at the top.
Sealcoating adds an additional level of protection against the elements. Asphalt is a long-lasting material but will degrade over time due to weather, traffic, and other environmental problems. Sealcoating, which should be done roughly every three to four years, creates a barrier between the asphalt and any contaminants, including water and rainfall, oil, and damage caused by the sun. Done regularly, this can extend the life of your asphalt.
Asphalt Crack Seal
Crack sealing helps address cracks that may arise in your asphalt by sealing them with a special mixture. Catching these cracks early is important—the more time cracks spend unaddressed, the more likely it is for water or expansion to cause further damage that may result in more extensive repairs.
Crack sealants vary in use and application, which is why it’s important to hire a professional. Different climates require different types of sealant, as do different types of projects. Using the wrong one can mean undoing the work put into sealing a crack in the first place.
Not all cracks can be fixed with sealing, either. That’s what makes a professional opinion so important—some cracks require more extensive treatment, which a professional can assess and administer. Don’t take chances on sealing a crack that may be a symptom of a larger structural problem.
Asphalt patching is a type of repair that targets the top one or two inches of an asphalt surface. Because it patches surface-level issues, asphalt patching is not suitable for deeper issues, such as an uneven surface or water draining problems.
Patching is a temporary solution. Over time, cracks beneath a patched surface may appear again. That’s why it’s important to have any problems evaluated by a professional—asphalt experts will be able to identify which problems can be addressed with a simple patch and which will need a more in-depth response.
Crack filling is a less intensive version of crack sealing. Like patching, crack filling is a temporary solution and is best used on cracks that are not changing shape or size. If climate is mild and surfaces do not see particularly heavy traffic, filler may be acceptable. However, crack seal is a more stable and long-term solution for many cases.
A fresh asphalt paving job or asphalt sealcoat needs to be repainted to designate parking lines, curbs, and all other important areas of a parking lot. Painting is also important maintenance, even if the lot hasn’t been recently repaved, as regular wear and tear can make parking lines indistinct and difficult for customers to navigate.
Professional asphalt painting ensures that the correct type of paint is used and the lines created are straight and compliant with ADA and other standards. A professional asphalt painting service will also ensure that your parking lot is slip-resistant and highly visible at all times using grit and reflective materials.
How to Find a Good Asphalt Service Company
Developing a strong relationship with an asphalt service you trust is crucial. Your parking lot is often a customer’s first impression of your business—if the lines are indistinct, there are lots of potholes, or it looks like it’s poorly maintained, customers may leave and opt for a competitor. Paying attention to your lot and working with a trusted asphalt company will help you attract and keep customers over time.
But how do you find a good asphalt company to work with? First, take a look at their reviews. Customers tend to leave reviews when they are either extremely pleased or extremely frustrated, which can sometimes make finding the truth a little complicated. Pay attention to trends—are multiple people praising traits like efficiency or friendliness? Are you seeing many complaints about the quality of service? Those are things to keep in mind.
Also get a variety of bids. The Better Business Bureau recommends a minimum of three bids for an asphalt project, which you can compare against one another and against average costs. A higher price may reflect a higher quality of service, or a company that overcharges. Likewise, cheaper service is often cheap for a reason. Look at your bids in conversation with the reviews for the service, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify what services are and why they’re priced that way. Information will help you make a better decision.
Only work with licensed, bonded, and insured contractors. Not only does this demonstrate that an asphalt business knows what they’re doing, but it also means they have proper protections in place in case something goes wrong. The same goes for industry certifications, such as BBB accreditation. There are also many state-level organizations that can certify asphalt and concrete companies, giving you more confidence in their ability.
Need expert asphalt services for your business property? Contact Transblue—we have over 15 years in the business, over a hundred positive reviews, and are licensed, bonded, and insured to provide you with world-class asphalt services wherever you are.
Melissa Brinks is part of Transblue’s marketing team. She enjoys relaxing outside with her dog and an ice-cold can of Cran-Raspberry La Croix.