Sun faded surfaces, cracks, and loose gravel are all issues that can affect your asphalt paving. Prevention is possible and is better than trying to repair a failing paved area.
Causes of Water Penetration
Standing water is the main enemy of your asphalt paving. After rain, snowmelt, irrigation, or just a heavy dew, puddles can remain in low areas of the paving. Since it is difficult to have perfectly smooth asphalt due to the nature of the material, small depressions that collect water are almost always present to some degree. Water seeps slowly into the porous asphalt, gradually eroding the surface and resulting in loose aggregate. Eventually, the water can cause damage inside the asphalt, which leads to cracks and potholes.
The process of penetration can be sped up by environmental factors. UV radiation from the sun breaks down the surface of asphalt over time, making it more porous and open to water incursion. When UV damage is combined with fine cracks that form in the surface from aging and weathering, water penetration damage can go from minor to severe quite quickly.
Problems and Concerns
At first, a few puddles may not seem like a big deal. Minor puddles won't even qualify as a nuisance. Unfortunately, as the water seeps into the porous asphalt, it stays there. The moisture erodes away the paving from the inside. If it penetrates deeply enough, it can damage and erode away the base material. A damaged base will cause the paving to eventually collapse and crumble.
Damage increases during cold weather. Any trapped moisture in the asphalt freezes and expands. This breaks apart the asphalt material, leading to cracks and potholes. The water doesn't have to penetrate deeply, either. Water that only seeps in a few millimeters is even more likely to freeze as it is near the surface. Freezing just below the surface of the asphalt loosens the top layer of aggregate, leading to an issue known as raveling.
Sealcoating As Prevention
Sealcoating prevents moisture penetration. A sealcoat is a mixture of epoxies and asphalt ingredients that is made to penetrate into the pores of your paving. Once in the pores, it cures and creates a waterproof barrier.
A contractor spreads a thin layer of sealcoat over the entire paved area, leveling it so that the paving is evenly coated. An application can last several years before use and weathering wear it down and necessitate a fresh application.
Contact an asphalt sealing service to get started.