How Does Winter Affect Your Asphalt?

As much as we hate to say it, winter is on the horizon. With the changing of the seasons, and the temperature too, a lot of things will be affected, including any asphalt or concrete on your property. Did you know your asphalt and concrete can be severely changed and damaged by the cold weather of winter?

It’s true.

The durability of asphalt and concrete depends on where you live. We’re talking about the climate where you live. Depending on the weather, your asphalt and concrete change and lose durability. So for somewhere like Utah in the midwest, it would be completely different than for somewhere humid and warm like Florida. So, how does winter affect your asphalt?

Freezing and Thawing

Before we can explore how different weather types affect your town’s asphalt and concrete, we need to understand how these mixtures are made. Depending on where the product will be laid, manufacturers create different mixtures of asphalt and concrete. This increases durability and decreases the need for repairs.

Both asphalt and concrete use water in their mixtures. Essentially, asphalt is a mixture of water, petroleum, and different kinds of earth, whereas concrete is mostly water mixed with cement. They react differently to cold and hot weather, but what’s the deciding factor?

Water.

Water is the element in ground surfaces that freezes, thaws, and expands, depending on the weather. Because of this, both cement and asphalt can be damaged by this. Asphalt tends to become brittle as the water in the mixture freezes, and as we use asphalt roads and paths, cracks are formed which creates a need for road repairs.

Cement is definitely more durable than asphalt, but still contains water which similarly creates cracks. Then, as the water thaws in warmer weather, the water in the cement or asphalt expands, which makes the surface soft. This can cause the ground to move and shift which causes further cracks or pot holes.

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What Can We Do?

If you have any asphalt or cement on your property, you might want to prepare it for the coming winter in order to avoid costly repairs. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Repair Existing Cracks

In order to prevent further damage, it’s time to repair any existing cracks. These can be cracks from previous winters, small to large holes, and any places where plants have poked through. You can repair most cracks by cleaning any debris inside the crack, and then using a crack-filler and letting it dry before driving or walking on that area. This method is applicable for both cement and asphalt.

Resurface the Areas

This is a bit more expensive, but is worth it for the longevity of your driveway or backyard paths. Resurfacing is the process of removing the top layer of cement or asphalt and getting a new layer laid on top. If the cracks in your driveway are deeper than the superficial top layer (typically the top 1-2 inches), you will need to fill them before resurfacing. Ultimately, this is a very effective way to prevent future cracks, and makes the re-surfaced area look brand new!

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Don’t Overuse the Area

It’s inevitable that during the winter months your asphalt and concrete will retain water which can damage your property if not properly handled. To prevent extensive damage, you can also keep the area clear. Try to keep it dry as well to prevent water freezing and expanding with the changing temperatures. Added weight and pressure will weaken the area, especially if it’s asphalt, and can deepen existing cracks, while water will always push asphalt and cement apart and create cracks.

We know this can be hard, especially if the area you’re talking about is your driveway where you park, which is why we recommend the first two options.

Don’t be caught with cracked and broken driveways this winter. Try these methods to preserve the value of your property, and prevent further damage. For resurfacing and asphalt and cement projects, Construction Materials Recycling is prepared to help you finish your project. Give us a call at 877-346-8490 to help your landscaping dreams a reality!

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