How Long Should Asphalt Paving Last?

Fullerton Hills Apartments; Phase 1; Fullerton (19-193) JF (6)

Asphalt is the top choice of pavement materials in the United States. About 94% of American roads and 85% of parking lots and driveways use asphalt paving.

When choosing surface options, most property owners and managers worry about longevity. Replacement asphalt pavement can be costly. Knowing the expected lifespan can help you plan your budget and make repair-related decisions.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • How long asphalt pavement lasts
  • Which factors contribute to the asphalt lifespan
  • How to make the asphalt pavement last longer

How Long Does Asphalt Paving Last?

Generally, an asphalt pavement lasts between 10 and 25 years. However, the real lifespan depends on numerous factors. To figure out how long your asphalt pavement will last, you need to consider the following parameters.

1. The Traffic Intensity

How much pressure is the asphalt pavement under? Do heavy vehicles drive over it daily? Or maybe one car is parked on the pavement overnight. The more traffic your asphalt pavement endures, the shorter the lifespan is.

You can extend the surface's life by arranging regular inspections and maintenance. However, with heavy traffic, the asphalt is unlikely to last more than 10 years.

2. Quality of Installation

Proper installation is the key to asphalt's longevity. For example, without proper edging, the surface may start breaking down within weeks after installation. Or if you decide to install the asphalt when the weather is too humid or rainy, you may have a tough time doing it properly.

Meanwhile, using the asphalt surface before it has sufficient time to dry could lead to damage. It will eventually result in cracks, holes, and other issues.

3. Proper Maintenance

Even though asphalt paving is highly durable, it requires regular maintenance to last longer. Without due attention, a small overlooked crack can turn into a pothole within weeks.

Timely inspections, regular cleaning, and high-quality repair are an integral part of asphalt maintenance. The maximum life expectancy can't be achieved without them. The more beating your asphalt pavement takes, the closer maintenance it requires.

4. Climate

The asphalt's lifespan depends on the weather it has to endure. The ideal climate for such pavement is warm temperatures, minimum rain, and absence of temperature fluctuations. In Southern California, asphalt suffers from heat and precipitation.

Heat causes cracks in the pavement. Water seeps in and erodes the sub-surface layers. As a result, an air gap forms beneath the pavement, creating a pothole. 

5. Materials

The longevity of your asphalt pavement can also depend on the type of materials and methods used during installation.

  • Porous asphalt — usually used for parking lots to improve drainage. It also traps heat. However, installing such asphalt on the wrong soil type can decrease its lifespan. It's also not durable enough for high-traffic areas.
  • Perpetual pavement — such pavement is made up of several layers, making it durable, thus excellent for heavy traffic. This pavement usually lasts longer compared to other types. However, the installation could be expensive.  
  • Warm-mix asphalt — such asphalt is produced by using lower temperatures (about 50 °F -100 °F lower) than hot-mix asphalt. This asphalt is budget-friendly. However, it's harder to install and more prone to water damage. Both factors may reduce lifespan.

Where Do You Plan To Install Asphalt?

Your asphalt's lifespan depends on where and how you plan to use it.

  • Residential driveway — since the driveway doesn't endure too much traffic, you can expect the pavement to last up to 25 years. But only if it's a new construction. Repaved driveways last about 10 to 15 years.
  • Parking lots — depending on the type of vehicles that enter your parking lot, the pavement can last between 15 and 25 years. Regular heavy truck traffic may reduce the lifespan. Without proper maintenance, parking lot pavement can deteriorate after as little as 5 years.
  • Residential streets — asphalt pavement on low-traffic streets lasts about 20 years before the need to resurface.
  • Highways — since these roads take a heavy beating, they may need resurfacing after 10 to 15 years.

How Can You Increase the Lifespan of Your Asphalt Pavement?

By paying close attention to the condition of the asphalt pavement, you can increase its lifespan and cut repair costs.

1. Ensure High-Quality Installation

Installing asphalt is similar to laying the foundation of a building. If something goes wrong, the entire project can suffer. If you want to make sure the asphalt pavement serves as long as possible, invest in high-quality installation.

2. Consider Regular Sealcoating

Asphalt sealcoating is one of the best ways to protect your pavement from cracks, holes, weather elements, and much more. Sealcoat is an extra layer of protection. As a bonus, it improves the appearance of the pavement and makes it more slip-resistant.

By sealcoating your asphalt pavement every two to three years, you can increase its lifespan substantially.

3. Arrange Thorough Inspections

Tiny cracks in the asphalt have a high potential of turning into serious issues. By spotting them in a timely manner, it's possible to prevent extensive damage and costly repairs. You can seal the cracks and enjoy the asphalt pavement for many years to come.

4. Know When to Overlay

If your asphalt is in bad shape, you may want to stop making small repairs and opt for overlaying. This can increase the lifespan of the pavement without costly replacement. Talk to the contractor about overlaying options to see if it's a suitable solution for your asphalt problems.

5. Keep it Clean

One of the key reasons why asphalt damage occurs is the lack of proper cleaning. Large debris can cause cracks and contribute to water pooling. Additionally, they can cover up the damage and keep you from fixing it quickly. Clean asphalt lasts longer, looks better, and offers superior functionality.

The Takeaway

The expected lifespan of an asphalt pavement depends on many factors, including the quality of installation, climate, type of materials, proper maintenance, and more. With the right care and use, your asphalt pavement can last up to 25 years and beyond.

For more information about making your asphalt paving last longer or to request a free quote, don't hesitate to contact us today. Please check out our "Anatomy of a Parking Lot" blog for a more in-depth view of what makes up a parking lot.

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