Asphalt parking lots are very expensive to install. New asphalt can begin to need expensive repairs after just a few years. Asphalt has two major weaknesses that lead to these costly repairs.
Two Major Weaknesses of Asphalt
1. Asphalt has a poor resistance to UV radiation (sunlight)
Asphalt is a simple combination of rock, sand, and glue which is the liquid asphalt that binds everything together. We Specialize in Sealcoating and Striping. The UV radiation breaks down the asphalt glue and weakens it to a point of no longer holding the rock and sand, thus gradually loosing the top surface.
The first and most obvious sign of this degradation is the gradual change in the color of the asphalt from black, to brown, and finally to gray.
Next, your parking lot begins to look rough and piles of sand seem to appear in the low areas of the parking lot. This is not from your neighbor but from the deterioration of your parking lot. In the later stages of degradation the bigger rocks fall out, raveling takes place, and the parking lot is rough and extremely dirty because now dirt and grass fill the spaces where rocks were. Also because the asphalt is oxidizing under the UV radiation, it looses its flexibility. This flexibility is extremely important because asphalt can take great loads and bounce back to its original condition. When asphalt looses its flexibility it becomes brittle and begins to crack and break.
2. Asphalt has poor resistance to salts, chemicals, and petroleum products
Petroleum products cause most of the damage as witnessed by oil spots and gas spills. The reason for its poor resistance is that asphalt is a petroleum product. They are separated only by the refining process of crude petroleum. Naturally, gasoline and oils will dissolve directly into the asphalt, soften the structure, and eventually cause major damage to asphalt.
Based on the these two weaknesses, it is logical to conclude that one should use some sort of coating that would shield the asphalt from these harmful elements that lead to the degradation of your costly asphalt parking lot. This is in essence the idea behind sealcoating.
After much of the deterioration just described occurs this, unfortunately, seems to be the time when many people call the seal coater and want them to make everything better. We can do a lot and make it look black, but much of this deterioration could have been avoided with regular preventative maintenance.
Protecting Your Asphalt
Asphalt surfaces can be effectively protected by using a sealcoating which acts as a barrier between the external harmful elements and the asphalt. Usually a coal tar emulsion sealer is used which is highly resistant to water, gas, oil, salt, chemicals, and UV radiation. Sealcoating is the perfect substance to combat the degradation of your asphalt.
Another great weapon in the arsenal of the pavement maintenance contractor is crack filling. Crack filling is done prior to any seal coat applications. If cracks are left unattended, water is able to penetrate to the base soaking and swelling the limestone thus destroying their strength and load bearing capabilities. It is evident by “alligator” cracking, sunken areas, and eventually potholes. Cracks at least 1/8″ or wider should be treated with a hot pour crack sealant. Hot Pour crack sealant remains flexible for a longer period of time and if used the crack repair can remain effective for 3-7 years.
First Impressions are Important
The old saying “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” is indeed true. Besides cost savings another great advantage of sealcoating is that a well maintained property increases the value of your property and is more pleasing to your patrons. The first impression of possible tenants or customers is the parking lot. Is it maintained? Does it look nice? Is it safe? They think to themselves, “If they maintain their parking lot then they probably maintain the rest of the property. It is proven by marketing studies (and I am sure from your own personal experience), that a well maintained property leads to higher occupancy rates, less turnover, and overall greater satisfaction. First impressions are important for your business.