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Top Asphalt: Is It Time To Repave Or Repair?

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Should you top asphalt on your blacktop parking lot or driveway with a fresh coat of paving, or repair it? This is the big money question that people want to know the answer to. And not by asking someone who stands to make a lot of money by saying it is time for a repave! So how can you tell with your own two eyes? Look at the damage, step-by-step, like this:

Potholes are the number one reason people tend to think it’s time to repave or replace, and this simply is not the case. If there is still a good solid base (foundation), this type of damage is easy to repair with a cold asphalt patch. Now if your parking area is more potholes than paving, or if the foundation is in bad shape all over, then it is time to repave.

Depressions and ruts in the blacktop are another big reason people feel the need to replace. You can top asphalt with that same asphalt patch to fill those ruts and depressions. You simply apply the patch and tamp it down. Use a piece of plywood, bottom side lightly oiled, and drive over it. No fancy tamping machinery required. On the other hand, if the dips and valleys are crumbling dry asphalt, and the gravel base is spilling out, then it is certainly time for repaving.

Cracks are never a good thing to see in your blacktop, but again, they are simple to repair. Here you can fill with crack filler rather than going through the expense to top asphalt. Just be sure they are only cracks. If all of the asphalt is crumbling and breaking up, no amount of crack repair is going to work.

Other Key Things To Keep In Mind

  • How Old Is Your Blacktop? Asphalt has a limited lifespan, even with the best of maintenance. 30 years is a ripe old age, if it’s been properly looked after. At this age you can certainly expect to have to top asphalt with a fresh paving.
  • How Much Has It Narrowed? The edges, especially if they are not framed in concrete, are where the worst crumbling occurs. You may not notice from one year to the next, but how much narrower is your blacktop from its original layout? Here again, you may be looking at a replacement of the whole thing.
  • What’s The Estimate? Get an idea of how much it will cost to repair compared to replacement. Be sure to look at how much you can save by doing the repair work yourself. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of any equipment you’ll need to buy or rent.

Repaving or replacing blacktop is a tough choice when you don’t know where to start, and now you do! Examine the potholes, ruts, and cracks to see if they’re easily fixed, or the damage is simply too extensive. Consider the age; is it near the end of its lifespan anyway? How much have you lost on the edges? Finally, look at the actual costs and time involved before you make a final choice as to whether or not to top asphalt.

8 thoughts on “Top Asphalt: Is It Time To Repave Or Repair?”

  • Dave Anderson
    Dave Anderson December 7 at 1:03 pm

    I did not know that even with potholes you don't necessarily need to replace the pavement. It sounds like asphalt is a lot stronger than I thought that it was. However, because there are some pot holes and cracks on the asphalt on my property I will definitely be getting it repaired rather than replaced.

    Reply
  • Ridley Fitzgerald
    Ridley Fitzgerald February 9 at 3:21 pm

    We have a nice asphalt driveway that has been there for years. It's getting old, but we have taken care of it, so we are unsure if we should repair or replace it this spring. It isn't much narrower than it was when we had it put in, and it hasn't reached 30 years old yet. I guess that means it could last for a while yet.

    Reply
    • Judson

      Hello Ridley;

      Thanks for your comments. The expected age for a driveway is around 25 years. If it is as well maintained as yours sounds, it can be extended by around 15 years.

      - The Sales Team at AK

      Reply
  • Kourtney Jensen
    Kourtney Jensen May 8 at 11:04 am

    This article was very informative and had information I need to look into for the parking lot I have. I liked how you made the point of how long the asphalt lasts--30 years--and that's with it being well kept. How do you know if it needs to be repave and replaced if not unkempt? I will be looking in to how long it has been since being maintained and redone and will be finding a contractor who can help in the repairs and maintenance of it.

    Reply
    • Andrei

      Glad the article helped! If your parking lot has not been kept up, and has grass growing through cracks (or worse yet, potholes), you'll want to get a professional in to assess if there has been damage to the foundation. Read more about asphalt maintenance in this article we wrote for just this sort of question.

      Reply
  • John

    My wife and I recently moved into a home with an asphalt driveway leading up to the house that has quite a few potholes. I noticed in the article you said that this doesn't necessarily require a repaving as those can be repaved. The current driveway is quite old though, so we were wondering if it would be worth it just to have it repaved anyways. Would you suggest we consult with a trustworthy paving contractor about what we should have done?

    Reply
    • Andrei

      Hi John;

      Thanks for your note! The best way to choose an asphalt contractor is to ask for referrals from your peer group - nothing better than an endorsement from a happy customer. Other great ways to find one - look for a company who has a BBB rating, or who belongs to the chamber of commerce in your area: these are two reliable markers of a serious, professional paving contractor.

      If the potholes aren't too bad, check out our Asphalt Patching Store: pothole patching can be done by any handy homeowner and a coat of sealer over top will help protect and preserve your patched pavement.

      Reply
  • LNWeaver

    That seems useful that you can get crack filler to repair asphalt cracks. You wouldn't want them to turn into something bigger, like a pothole. If your issue does get out of hand, it might be time to call a pavement contractor.

    Reply
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