Protecting Your Asphalt Investment

Protecting Your Asphalt InvestmentReplacing asphalt pavements can be an expensive, inconvenient and time-consuming headache for property managers and building owners alike. By utilizing proper pavement maintenance principles, you can double the life of your pavements and save thousands of dollars in the process.

The most important process involved with proper pavement maintenance is crack sealing. Crack sealing prevents the infiltration of water into your pavements and aggregate base. Proper crack sealing is your first line of defense and helps eliminate pot holes and buckling pavements.

Crack sealing preparations start with the existing cracks being routed to a consistent width and depth of 1/2” by 1/2”. The routing forms a reservoir or a saddle for the sealant to bond in. The heat of the router cutters also seals shut the bottom of the crack and eliminates the possibility of the hot sealant running into the aggregate base. Pavement Solutions feels so strongly about the positives of routing that we do not offer non-routed crack sealing in our service lines.

High-pressure compressed air is then used to completely clean the reservoir of dirt and debris. In the event that the reservoir is damp, a heat lance should be used to dry the area to ensure the proper bonding of the sealant. The hot rubberized sealant is then injected in the reservoir and struck off with a squeegee. The finished material should dry approximately 3/8” below the existing asphalt to ensure that the material isn’t hooked by a plow or heavy vehicle.

Routed crack fill that is still in the reservoir can do its job after 8 or 9 years. Non-routed or over banded cracks can fail after the first winter and can be a poor investment for the owner. Spend more money up front and demand that cracks are repaired properly.

The two most basic and affordable coatings are coal tar and asphalt-based emulsions. Commercial-based coal tar emulsions have been on the market since the 1950’s and are still regarded as the most durable and cost effective product for sealing asphalt. Coal tar is resistant to water, gas and chemical infiltration. The negatives for coal tar are a strong creosol odor and the burning of skin if you are around the product for an extended amount of time.

Asphalt-base sealers have many of the same qualities as coal tars and dry a very dark, rich black color. The negative for asphalt is that it is hard to place in cooler temperatures and wears a little quicker than conventional coal tars.

Pavement Solutions has started to shift away from predominately using coal tar sealers. We are finding that some of the hybrid polymer-modified asphalt sealers are wearing great and drying super black in color which accents the striping.

There are dozens of paints offered for many different installations. The most common paints used over sealcoats are water-based or latex-based paints. Latex paints are inexpensive, easily applied with airless equipment and easy to clean. The big downside is that the paint dulls soon after placement. Acetone paints on sealcoat are solvent-based paints with more pigments and the color stays crisp longer.

Another very versatile paint we like to use on oxidized asphalt or concrete surfaces is chlorinated rubber. This paint is flexible and lasts a long time. It works great for painting concrete curbs or car stops.

A great customer in northern Illinois who owns a large car dealership and who is a real proponent of asphalt pavement maintenance recognized early on that he had to protect the huge investment he made in his parking lots when he built the dealership. We meet every year to discuss a comprehensive plan to protect and extend the life of his pavements. By following the principles in this article, the owner has replaced less than 5 percent of his 20-year-old pavement to date.

Any property manager or building owner can share in the same success by committing to a yearly review of the property and stick to a maintenance plan with a trusted pavement maintenance partner.

By John Butler, Managing Partner of Pavement Solutions