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Is It Okay To Pave Over Existing Asphalt Pavement?

Key Takeaways:

  • Clients often confuse resurfacing, overlaying & patching with repaving. They all are distinct.
  • Paving over existing asphalt pavement with a few conditions is possible.
  • The overall job quality will depend mainly on the skill level of the paving contractor or amateur. Naturally, it is ideal to go with professional paving services.
  • Before laying any new asphalt, it’s essential to check for signs of damage, the quality of the sub-base, and the compaction of the foundation.
  • The only case where an overlay is unfavorable is when concrete is slabbed over asphalt. Typically, it is asphalt over concrete slabs because one is an excellent foundation for the other.

Technically, one can pave over an existing asphalt pavement. It is as easy as painting over a fresh coat on an old wall, and the layer holds up well for a while. But nothing like a half-done job is without its hiccups.

It is unprofessional to utilize virgin or repurposed paving materials over a site that has not been prepared to allow for sustainable construction & structural longevity. It offsets the purpose of cost-effectiveness & budgeted maintenance runs.

These are significant considerations for institutions like the Federal Highway Administration & the Dept. Of Transportation. Sure, on a small scale, one might get away with a fresh layer over old asphalt, but the roads would be a woeful mess if it were the norm on a national scale.

Understanding Asphalt

It is both a crude-oil by-product and present in nature as asphalt tar pits. It is an oily substance, flexible, and highly viscous. It’s mixed in with gravel chips of various grades to make that characteristic black treacle that we love as a black top. It is a highly reclaimed, recycled, and repurposed paving material. Around 80% of asphalt in the US is recycled, making it an excellent sustainable paving material.

Before installation, the path is roller-compacted, and aggregates are layered and compacted more. The asphalt mix goes over with a straight-edge implement. Temperatures during preparation, mixing, transport, installing & compacting are key to curing asphalt pavement.

Also, read A Comprehensive List of Flexible Pavement Failures.

The pavement is subject to vehicular loads constantly. Regular wear and tear can strip the top layer of the pavement, exposing it to the elements for further degradation. 

Damage can also occur due to water infiltration and erosion, oxidation due to UV rays, petroleum spills, and traffic. As the asphalt ages and degrades, it can lead to potholes, cracks, or rutting. That calls for repair, replacement & general maintenance to extend the life of the asphalt pavement.

Differentiating Between Repair Paving Techniques

1. Patching

Asphalt patching is a class of pavement repair methods focused on potholes, wide cracks, depressions, and various penetrative damage in general. Hot mix patches are ideal for summers, while a cold mix patch is utilized for winters. Cold mixes never cure; they solidify from low temperatures. By summer, renewed repairs are required to remove the cold patch and fill it with a permanent hot patch.

Extensive damage calls for a full-depth patch, where the damaged pavement is removed and reinstalled from scratch.

2. Resurface

If the asphalt surface has weathered away, meaning the seal coat is gone, and the top has begun to ravel, resurfacing is considered. It is an effective solution for pavement failures like asphalt bleeding, tracking, slippage, or alligatored cracks, where the top layer is mainly affected. If the surface is too smooth from weathering, it can lead to hydroplaning of vehicles.

In this method, the top layer of the pavement is milled away, the surface is cleaned of debris, and then a fresh layer of asphalt is layered over the top. The principles for installation are the same for a whole pavement. The only difference is that it is most useful for asphalt that has aged a lot & needs some TLC to make it through the next decade.

3. Overlay

Here’s the juicy bit you came for, asphalt can be layered over existing pavement. But there are certain conditions to be met. The existing pavement has to be in good shape, with an uncompromised foundation, no drying out, minimal cracking, or any other pavement failure.

The existing asphalt pavement is cleaned and layered with a fresh layer of aggregate.

It rejuvenates the entire treated section and is ideal for small paving sections like driveways, turns, bends, and high-traffic intersections.

Overlays are a cost-effective solution to rejuvenating aged asphalt, and it also bumps up the aesthetics of the pavement.

4. Repave

Only in the event of severe asphalt pavement damage is repaving recommended. Advanced alligator cracking, stripping (where the pavement’s foundation weathers away), block cracks (defect based on the union of flexible-over-rigid pavement), pumping (waterlogged soils leaching water into the pavement) and massive potholes call for prompt rectification.

In repaving, the affected section is removed entirely, and fresh asphalt is installed from the ground up.

So, When Is Paving Over Existing Pavement a Bad Idea?

Asphalt always goes over concrete (flexible over the rigid pavement) in paving pairing for reinforced roads. You can’t install concrete over an asphalt pavement, regardless of both materials’ strength. Concrete can’t bind to the oily composition of asphalt, and the entire project can fail with extended exposure to traffic loads.

Apart from that, as long as you have a clean & adhesive surface for asphalt-to-asphalt paving, you are good to go.

Also, read: Can You Put Asphalt Over Concrete?


Schedule Asphalt Maintenance with Atkins Paving!

Regular maintenance is vital in preventing permanent damage from occurring. Depending on the amount of wear & tear the pavement is subject to, maintenance may include crack sealing, seal coating, or resurfacing. Additionally, proper grading, transport, installing & compacting are key to preventing asphalt pavement from degrading over time and ensuring it will last longer.

Before all these services are completed, it is crucial to contact a professional asphalt paving contractor. 

Our team at Atkins Paving, serving Rock Hill, SC, can provide the necessary maintenance and repairs that your pavement needs to extend its life. We have the latest technology and equipment to deliver long-term pavement durability and safety. By scheduling regular checkups and repairs with our team, you are guaranteed flawless pavement & enhanced ROI.

Get in touch with us for more details on resurfacing & overlays for your aging asphalt. Sample our free service estimates today!