If you own a business and have a parking lot, you may have a lot of questions about the asphalt it uses, especially when your lot starts aging. Asphalt is an incredible material that is commonly used for roads and parking lots because of its many benefits. However, before you replace your parking lot, check out these three terms that you should know.
It may not look like it, but asphalt is a unique material. It is hard and durable to withstand the weight of cars, trucks, and other heavy equipment. However, it is also flexible. Asphalt must be flexible because the weight of vehicles is so powerful that without flexibility, the asphalt would crack.
For this reason, asphalt is designed to slightly bend with the weight of vehicles. Think of it as a corkboard versus a piece of hardwood. The hardwood is one solid piece of wood, so it can’t bend well. If you do try to force it to bend, it will snap. A corkboard, however, is made up of bits of material, so it can bend without the risk of cracking.
However, oxidation can ruin asphalt’s flexibility. Oxidation simply means that something has been exposed to oxygen. Therefore, just about everything is susceptible to oxidation. As more and more time passes, more oxidation occurs, forcing the asphalt to lose flexibility, which increases the risk of cracking.
Just like how youthful skin remains smooth until oxidation leads to wrinkles, your parking lot starts to develop more cracks and chips.
The main reason for the flexibility in asphalt can be found in its design. Rather than being one solid material, it is instead a combination of aggregates (crushed rocks and stones) held together with a binder. However, as the parking lot ages and is left unmaintained, the aggregate design can lead to problems.
After losing flexibility, the asphalt is at a high risk of cracking because it is not one solid piece of material. Since it’s made up of so many pieces, it has a lot of weak points where the aggregates bond together. However, it isn’t just oxidation that can affect aggregates.
Asphalt is designed to withstand some exposure to oil and other chemicals, but since cars aren’t supposed to leak oil, asphalt isn’t designed to survive lots of exposure. Oil from an ignored spill or a leaking car destroys the binding material and the aggregates become loose. As a result, a crater starts to form as more and more aggregates are dislodged and lost.
Luckily, you don’t have to rip out your parking lot and install a new one every time oxidation or oil catches up to your asphalt. You will need to occasionally fully replace the parking lot just like you must fully replace your roof, windows, and doors, but sealcoating can help the asphalt last a long time.
Sealcoating is done regularly to counteract the effects of oxidation, oil, rain, UV exposure, and snow. It is simply a new layer of asphalt placed on top of your parking lot. Not only does this freshen up the look, but it serves as a bandage to protect against underlying damage like cracks and potholes. In addition, it may be able to prevent some problems before they happen by covering weak spots and problem areas.
Asphalt is a great choice for your parking lot because of its flexibility. Oxidation and other factors like UV rays can damage flexibility, but sealcoating is an easy and affordable way to counteract these effects. If you would like to know more, or if you need a quote for services, contact us at Pinnacle Paving & Sealing today.