Paving industry professionals agree that late spring and summer are the best seasons to lay asphalt and begin asphalt repairs.
Does that mean you cannot schedule a paving job during the autumn months? Not necessarily. But it does mean that certain seasons are not ideal for this project, and we will tell you why!
Take a closer look at the characteristics of asphalt paving. You will learn why warm weather provides ideal conditions for paving driveways and walkways. This will help you to understand whether or not the month that you hope to complete this project in is advisable or not.
Many homeowners plan on improving their home’s curb appeal with a paved driveway and walkway. Choosing asphalt is one of the most affordable options on the market.
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Prime Conditions for Asphalt
Hot mix asphalt requires a certain internal temperature to compact and set properly. It must remain between 175 and 275 degrees. Colder weather may shorten the installation timeline, and this affects the material's stability. However, asphalt quality can be preserved as long as the mix remains within stated temperatures.
Warmer air temperatures in spring and summer help the mix maintain at a stable temperature. This helps it maintain a pliable consistency. Compression becomes more difficult and stability degrades when the mix cools.
The sweet spot for regular paving and applying Hot Mix Asphalt is about 20 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit).
Under normal temperature conditions, you should expect to pay about $2.00 - $4.00 per square foot for asphalt paving.
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Who You Hire Makes a Difference
The asphalt paving crew’s work and setup makes a difference in terms of project quality. It's best to hire an experienced asphalt crew that works with the proper equipment. This will allow them to work quickly and install the product better. An efficient installation process allows for higher quality paving in every season, even in cooler temperatures. Of course, speed and proficiency are very important in colder temperatures.
Time is of the Essence
Asphalt must be installed in a timely manner. Most companies can install asphalt without problems in the spring and summer. However, companies that have failed to optimize their equipment and process will have a difficult time installing the material in the fall and winter.
Contractors have between 16 – 45 minutes to lay asphalt (depending on external temperature).
The more time that hot asphalt sits without being properly compacted, the less stable it will be. Structural problems can incur when inclement weather causes the contractor to delay their process. The contractor must be able to apply the top layer promptly. If they cannot, then the homeowner may experience asphalt cracking throughout the year.
Temperature and Time
In colder temperatures (around 5 to 7 degrees Celsius, 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit), a thin layer of asphalt (1.5-inches) must be completely compacted within 16 minutes of application.
Thicker layers of asphalt (2 to 3-inches) have an extended time frame in the cold, because the internal temperature of the pavement is higher. Contractors laying 3 inches of hot asphalt mix have about 45 minutes to get the surface compacted and ready.
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If you must hire a contractor to complete this job in cooler temperatures, then you should consider interviewing the contractor before they start the project. Ask them about the following:
- Their equipment. Ask questions to ensure that your contractor has adequate rollers and operators to complete the job quickly. Rollers used on driveways tend to be more narrow. This may mean that a few labourers may be permitted on site to assist with the installation process. Think critically about their equipment and ask yourself if they can get the job done on time.
- Their application timeline. Ask them how long the project will take. Of course, the shorter the better. Double check with the time frames outlined above.
Why Not Start with a Hotter Asphalt Mix?
Since asphalt must remain at a certain temperature for the duration of the installation. Wouldn't it would make sense to start with a hotter mix in cooler weather? The short answer is no!
A hotter mix presents several problems for the installation crew and the asphalt plant.
Changing the temperature of the asphalt may result in a shorter lifespan.
Creating hot mix asphalt at higher temperatures requires more fuel and reduces production at the asphalt plant. This results in higher costs for the contractor. That premium will be passed on to the homeowner.
Conservative estimates state that raising the mix temperature by 25 degrees reduces production levels by at least 15 percent! Are you prepared to pay a higher price for your project just to pave in the autumn?
Increasing the temperature also increases the risk of aging and damaging the asphalt binders. Pushing the temperature higher changes the composition, which results in performance alterations. In addition, when the mix is hotter, it’s easier to accidentally apply a thinner coating upon the aggregates. This lowers the asphalt's stability and strength through each season, which can lead to cracking and accelerated damages.
When asphalt is transported from the plant to the job site the material temperature drops. Many asphalt plants offer a temporary solution. They may supply tarps or wrap for the trucks in autumn. This prevents the hot mix from cooling off too much.
Another way that asphalt contractors and plants work around these cooling issues is to shut down business during the off-season. Asphalt plants in many parts of the country are open for business until the snow flies. If this happens, then you may not be able to complete your project until spring!
If you wish to complete a paving project in cooler weather then try the following:
- Ensure that your contractor takes care of transportation issues before you sign a contract.
- Ask your contractor if they are taking any measures to ensure the mix will not cool during transport.
- Consider waiting until the spring to pave if you live in a rural area, and are located a fair distance from the local asphalt plant. Your project may cost you much more than you wish to pay, which is totally avoidable in warmer temperatures!
Special Treatment of Recycled Asphalt
Recycled asphalt is used for many applications today. However, recycled asphalt cannot be resurfaced more than ten days after it has been set in cooler temperatures. A temporary layer of hot mix asphalt would be required in the meantime. This temporary layer must be at least 2-inches thick. It should also be properly marked for future reference.
These standards most often apply to roads and parking lots, but unpredictable fall weather conditions can leave your driveway resurfacing project in a bind!
Asphalt Repairs in the Fall
Completing asphalt repairs may be easier in the fall, depending on the type of repair and scope. All of the same rules apply: the hot asphalt mix must be delivered at the right temperature, and laid down in an efficient manner.
The Best Option
Infrared asphalt repairs produce the best results. This method maintains the mix at its peak temperature (using a hotbox) while heating up the existing asphalt to facilitate bonding.
Adding another layer can be successful, but these temporary asphalt layers must be replaced within a short period of time.
Talk to your contractor about the ideal methods and processes, as well as the options of adjusting the schedule to attain long lasting results.
Should you Pave in Autumn?
Paving in the autumn presents a variety of challenges for the asphalt plant, contractors, and homeowners. If paving in cooler temperatures isn’t imperative, then we recommend that you stick to completing this project in the spring or summer. This is an easy way to avoid complications.
If you need to have asphalt paving installed in cooler temperatures be sure that you understand exactly what to watch out for. Keep a close eye on the conditions of the temperature, time, materials, and worksite.
If you absolutely need to pave your driveway in a cooler season then it’s imperative that you hire an experienced paving contractor for the job. Be sure to ask them about their experience around paving in cooler temperatures.
Ask them for client references if they have done an autumn project before. Always ask their past clients about how the asphalt has held up over time.
With all conditions taken care of, paving can be done well in the autumn. However, it isn’t a job for amateurs.Posted by: TrustedPros