workers laying asphalt

Deciding Whether to Maintain, Repair, or Replace Asphalt

Is it best to prevent damage to your asphalt or repair minor damages? What about letting it degrade and fully replacing it?

If you are a business owner with a parking lot, concrete, or asphalt of any kind, you are familiar with degradation. Over time, asphalt starts to break down. Tiny droplets of water get inside and then start to expand and contract. As that happens, it forces the binding of the asphalt apart, causing damage. Other substances that cause damage include oil/solvents from vehicles, and ultra violet light. What is better? A full-on re-installation of the asphalt? Prevention? Or something in-between? Let’s look at all three options and see where they fit.

 

Prevention 

Preventing damage in the first place is often regarded as the most cost-effective way to handle your asphalt pavement. It is usually much cheaper to have preventative work done than it is to replace or repair asphalt. 

In fact, at Reliable Paving, we are experts on prevention of asphalt damage. Read about the many ways you can keep your parking lot in tip-top shape here

Prevention Methods

Seal Coating

Seal coating covers your asphalt in a weather-proof shell. The seal coating process prevents water entry, tree roots digging in, and UV damage. It is one of the most cost-effective means of damage prevention.

Regular Clean-up

Just like anything else, maintaining asphalt requires regular repairs and cleaning. Remove debris like branches, dust, and oil spills regularly. Other regular maintenance involves repainting when the original coat of paint fades. This makes sure people use the lot correctly and it doesn’t receive undue vehicle damage. 

Proper Drainage

Your asphalt should have some kind of drainage system. Water is the universal solvent, and stands to do the most damage to your pavement. If you have an easy and efficient way of removing water, it becomes much less of a worry. Many parking lots have gutters around them, and are also built on slight inclines. This simple method prevents water from pooling and then sinking into the pavement where it can cause damage.

Be sure to maintain your drainage as well. If the drainage system becomes full of debris, it won’t work anymore. A seriously clogged drainage system can even damage your asphalt.

 

Maintenance and Rehabilitation

As the condition of your pavement goes down over time, prevention becomes less effective. In these cases, repairs, maintenance, and rehabilitation are required. These can vary from minor potholes and cracks being filled to serious structural repair and rehabilitation. 

Types of Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance

This is most effective when the pavement has little-to-no distress. It is done to preserve the asphalt and slow future degradation. Examples of this type of maintenance are chip seals, slurry seals, and thin overlays. Seal coating mentioned earlier could be considered a type of preventative maintenance. There is some overlap between prevention and maintenance, and this is where preventative maintenance lies.

 

Corrective Maintenance

When pavement distress becomes apparent in the forms of potholes, large cracks, and surface deformation, it’s time for corrective maintenance. 

Corrective maintenance is exactly what it sounds like. It’s repair of serious damage. When the functionality of the asphalt begins to suffer from damage, it needs to be corrected. If pavement can no longer be used safely, efficiently, or at all, corrective maintenance is applied. Corrective maintenance includes pothole repair and patching, joint and/or slab replacement, and smaller actions. The smaller types of corrective maintenance include crack filling, cleaning drainage systems, and more. You will notice again, there is some overlap between prevention and maintenance. Cleaning drainage systems are a good example of that. There is also crossover between corrective maintenance and routine maintenance.

Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance are regularly-performed actions to preserve the integrity of a system. This goes for any system, not just asphalt pavement. Routine maintenance can include seal coating every several years, cleaning drains, cleaning solutions off asphalt surface, and much more. 

As you can see, types of maintenance do have a fair amount of overlap with each other. The reason for that is simple — they serve the same function. All maintenance is designed to ensure pavement is kept in the highest condition for as long as possible.

 

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation for asphalt is much more serious than maintenance. Rehabilitation is classified as structural enhancements that extend the service life of existing pavement, or increase its load-capacity. Basically, rehabilitation makes pavement more functional. It also usually occurs at a deeper level of pavement, making it a more serious, and costly procedure than maintenance. Rehab often involves adding steel structural supports, or replacing deeper levels of the paving layers.

 

Reconstruction

Reconstruction is the most serious way of dealing with old or damaged pavement. When asphalt reaches a certain point in its life, it needs to be replaced. This is usually true of asphalt that is 10 years old or more, or has experienced serious damage. 

Reconstruction is the most costly option in both time and money. It should be saved for the worst cases of damaged and or aged asphalt.

 

Should I Maintain, Repair, or Replace my Asphalt?

Generally, it’s best to have a strict maintenance plan for your pavement. This means that as soon as it is constructed, routine maintenance begins. Routine and preventative actions should prevent major distress in the pavement for many years. Make sure you have the resources on hand for when pavement distress becomes apparent, so you can perform rehabilitation and repairs. Sometimes reconstruction is the only option. But what if you don’t know what stage your asphalt is in?

If you aren’t sure, ask the professionals at Reliable Paving. We have over 35 years of experience on the matter as paving contractors, and we will be happy to help with any of your asphalt paving questions. Our specialties include asphalt paving, concrete and asphalt repair, seal coating, ADA compliance, and more. We are happy to bring our professionalism to your paving-related projects.

Cost-Saving Techniques for Installing Asphalt

There are plenty of different ways to lay asphalt. However, if you are looking for the meeting point of quality and cost-saving, it’s not hard to find.

You might not think so, but laying asphalt can be surprisingly-environmentally friendly, too. The reason for this is that the same cost-saving techniques often reuse and recycle existing materials, obviating the whole supply chain.

 

What is the asphalt laying process?

These are the steps that your paving contractor should follow in order to lay asphalt properly:

Clearing and removal

The first step, like almost any construction project, is to clear the building area. Whatever the existing surface is, whether asphalt, concrete, or soil, it has to be cleared of debris. This is often done with heavy machinery, and sometimes demolitions.

Grading

Then, when the surface is prepared, it is properly graded and sloped. This basically means that the ground is built so that it has a slight tilt. This is essential because it gives water a place to run off and prevents asphalt damage as a consequence. Water is the main source of asphalt damage on any surface.

Sub-base preparation

The soil below the asphalt must be properly leveled and compacted. This is arguably the most important step. If the sub-base is improperly prepared, the lifespan of the pavement on top will be a fraction of what it would otherwise be.

Adding the binder

Once the sub-base is properly prepared, it’s time to add the binder. The binder is made from aggregate and oil. Aggregate is a mix of small stones and pebbles that form the vast majority (94%) of asphalt pavement. The binder is a processed oil product that does exactly what you think it would—it “glues” the aggregate together, forming the asphalt into one solid piece. Even though the binder is only 6%, it is the highest-cost part of the asphalt by far.

Surface installation

With the sub-base, binder, and aggregate installed, the surface comes next. The surface asphalt is made of small aggregate, sand, tiny pebbles, and oil (the binder). The smaller aggregate means that the surface is smooth, with a clean appearance.

Transitions/joints

Most asphalt is installed adjacent to other existing asphalt, pavement, or concrete. Parking lots connect to sidewalks, sidewalks connect to buildings, and so on. The places where these areas join up requires special attention. They must be level to prevent damage to vehicles and for ease of pedestrians. Also, the areas where asphalt joins up must have proper places for water to drain. Without proper drainage, water can get between the asphalt and do major damage when it cools or warms.

Rolling

Also known as “the final roll,” this process simply involves moving over the asphalt with a large flattener—usually a steamroller. This smooths and compacts everything and prepares it for everyday use.

 

How to cut costs on asphalt pavement installation

Now that you know roughly how asphalt is installed, let’s look at where the cost-saving steps come in.

Believe it or not, asphalt is actually the most recycled material in the world. Since 2009, in the United States, less than 1% of asphalt winds up disposed of in landfills. A total of 97% of used asphalt winds up in new pavement, while the other 3% goes to civil engineering applications. Nowadays, new asphalt pavements produced in the U.S. contain more than 21% reclaimed pavement. Who knew asphalt was so environmental?

This recycling is more than good for the environment, it has become a major way to save money. On large scales, asphalt is recycled in a plant on industrial levels. These savings can easily be passed on to the consumer, as recycled asphalt can be procured from nearby sites, processed and then sent. New materials don’t need to be mined or drilled (particularly the oil binder), so many costs are avoided. Large scale asphalt recycling is usually what is used in making new asphalt or simultaneously tearing up and replacing old asphalt.

On smaller scales, asphalt recycling can be done in various ways that save money as well. Usually, these steps occur after sub-base preparation, when the binder and aggregate needs to be added. Small-scale recycling is often on-site and completed at high speed or overnight. It is used most commonly for smaller repairs on existing asphalt structures.

Read more about how asphalt recycling has gone from a move towards greener construction to a wise financial choice here.

 

3 Categories of small-scale asphalt recycling

Asphalt Millings

These are small pieces of pavement produced by grinding the surface of asphalt. Usually, the millings come from the surface layer of asphalt, as the sub-base layer can be contaminated with soil, and other things from the earth. Although asphalt can be milled from concrete, it’s better to be milled from asphalt, as it has more oil (binder) content. Ideal millings have a rich black tint, and are best for asphalt recycling.

Reclaimed asphalt pavement

Also known as RAP, reclaimed asphalt pavement are chunks of existing pavement that have been removed. These pieces are broken off when asphalt is being repaired or modified. 

Blacktop cookies

Blacktop cookies are chunks of hot mix asphalt that can be used for repairs. These un-compacted wafers can be stored, reheated, and used to make repairs using far less labor than pouring new asphalt. Blacktop cookies often are unused material from previous paving jobs.

 

How to save money on your asphalt installation

So, using recycled materials is better for the earth and your wallet. But how should you go about making the most money-saving move in getting new pavement put in? Should you buy recycled pavement from a large scale recycling plant? Should you get a small-scale asphalt recycling operation to rip up what’s already there and put it back in?

There are a lot of choices to be made, so rely on the professionals to tell you what options are best for your situation. Reliable Paving has over 35 years of paving and asphalt installation and repair experience under their belt. Contact us today to talk to a professional paving contractor who can give you the best advice on how to recycle asphalt and save on your new installation.

paving

Asphalt and Paving in Summer 2020

Predictions and analysis of the demand for paving work that will be done during the summer of 2020

COVID-19 Has Changed Almost Everything

It’s safe to say that COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019, has changed the world. Almost every facet of life is now different. Masks are required in public, and in many other enclosed spaces (as well as private businesses). Large-group get-togethers like concerts won’t be happening any time soon. Almost every aspect of life has changed, and most of it for the worse.

Additionally, business is down in general. Restaurants and entertainment venues are operating at half-capacity if they’re open at all. Many businesses have closed, and won’t ever reopen. 

But what does that mean for paving works this summer? Roads are still being traversed, and parking lots still need to be safe for vehicles and pedestrians alike.

You’ve come to the right place to get that exact question answered.

 

Asphalt and Paving Works in Mid-2020

So, what about construction, and specifically paving? Riding in hot from a strong market in 2019, the asphalt and paving industry look to be in for a great 2020. 

But what about the market downturn? How has that changed the outlook for paving projects?

Fortunately, asphalt and paving seem to have weathered the storm. As we move into the middle of the year and safety measures are solidly in place against the virus, this corner of the world can move on with just a few key safety measures in place. 

 

Early 2020

With “shovel ready” projects booked from 2019, plus some hefty government funding, 2020 looked to be a boon year for the paving industry. Federal highway funding increased by $6 Billion in 2017, from $46 Billion.

Despite cautioning that business might take a serious downturn in March, however, it seems most projects have been going on as planned. Paving, particularly as infrastructure, is essential for any community, and so the paving workers were considered essential.

Here are some of more reasons why the paving industry can plan full steam ahead this year:

  • Incomplete projects from last year. Federal funding for 2019 wasn’t released until February 2019, so many 2019 projects are still incomplete and need to be finished this year instead.
  • 2020 Funding was allocated in December 2019. This means that 2020 projects could be backed-up by two years’-worth of funding.
  • FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP). This 2020 and 2019 program provides grants to public (and sometimes private) organizations. The grants are designed to aid the planning and development of public-use airports. 
  • America’s Transportation and Infrastructure Act of 2019. This bill does quite a lot to keep the paving industry moving:
  • It increases funding for tribal and federal lands transportation programs.
  • The bill “requires the Department of Transportation to encourage each state to develop a voluntary plan that provides for the immediate and long-term personnel and workforce needs of the state to deliver transportation and public infrastructure projects.”
  • And so much more—read the bill for yourself here.

 

Summer 2020

As midyear approaches, it seems that paving and asphalt projects are still going strong. However, it also makes sense to have some cautious optimism. Here are some other factors to consider.

Funding Sources

Roughly 65% of paving and asphalt project funding comes from the federal, state, and local government. The other 35% comes from private markets, both commercial and residential. Government money is fairly reliable, since once a bill becomes law, the funding appears. The private market, however, is much more volatile. 

In the case of a disastrous second-wave of COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S., it’s possible that the private market could take a swift downturn. Additionally, as states open up and numbers of infections start to climb again, there could be another devastating market downturn. Businesses that aren’t open, schools that aren’t running, and government buildings that are shut down won’t need paving services.

 

Demand Changes

It’s difficult to predict how demand will change exactly for construction services like asphalt paving. There are several reasons, among them:

  • Much of paving needs to be done during low-business times. If a business is shut down, and has the liquid cash needed to get by until it reopens, it could go through with a paving project it had planned anyway. The project needs to be done—and with no clients, the construction can be done more easily and far faster.
  • If businesses don’t survive however because of virus levels spiking and causing closures, then demand will correspondingly decrease.
  • The stay-at-home-effect. In the case that lock-downs are again used, with only essential workers going about their business, it would be a perfect time to get city, highway, and other public works paving projects complete. The fewer people on the roads, the more efficiently workers can do their jobs.
  • Demand from government sources seems to be steady in the storm. An internet search for “paving projects summer 2020” reveals many cities and states going about their asphalt paving projects undeterred. As of late March (after lock downs and social distancing measures began in many states), asphalt and paving projects in almost all states were nonetheless ongoing.

 

We’re Still Here for You

If you need a paving project done in, you’ve come to the right place. Reliable Paving is a professional, high-quality, and extremely experienced paving contractor. With over 35 years of experience, we have the know-how and expertise to solve your paving needs. 

Come to us for asphalt paving, concrete repair, seal coating, and parking lot striping. We ensure success and guarantee satisfaction. Is your project a big one? With 19 crews and over 200 employees, we can handle large-scale projects skillfully and deftly. Contact us today to see why we are the local leader among paving companies in Arlington, Texas.

workers laying asphalt

Paving with Recycled Materials

Recycling and other eco-friendly trends in asphalt and paving

Believe it or not, asphalt pavement is America’s most recycled material. Less than 1% of asphalt winds up in landfills. Asphalt concrete removed during road maintenance can easily be reused again in all kinds of ways, including new pavement mixtures and various engineering uses. Get more in-depth information about recycled asphalt numbers here.

But, what is the asphalt recycling process like? What other eco-friendly materials can be used in paving? What are some long-term sustainable trends in asphalt?

What are the benefits of using recycled asphalt?

You might be trying to decide whether to get new pavement, or used recycled material for your home or business. Here are a few of the benefits of using recycled materials for paving:

  • Saving on construction waste. And we mean this in two ways. First, it eliminates waste that you have to spend money on removing and disposing of. Additionally, it is one less thing that has to go into a landfill.
  • Conservation of natural resources. Recycling asphalt reduces oil use. Using recycled materials also reduces the need for small stones and rocks that make up the aggregate. These both reduce the demand for oil drills and strip mines.
  • Construction contractors save money as well. Removing the supply chains of mining and processing means the company installing the asphalt save time and money, and those savings are passed on to their clients.
  • Asphalt can be recycled many times. 
  • Decrease in wear and tear on asphalt. Recycled asphalt is generally stronger than new asphalt. This is because of the added mineral fillers and organic fibers used in the recycled material. Recycled asphalt is less likely to crack and develop holes.

 

The Asphalt Recycling Process

Milling

First, asphalt is “milled.” This means that the top layer of asphalt is removed. Once it has been milled, it goes to a plant, where it is filtered, sized, and used for making new pavement. In this way, asphalt can be used time and time again, extending its life and saving money consumers, taxpayers, while conserving environment.

Pulverization

Asphalt pulverization is used to recycle asphalt without moving it from its job site. The surface layer is ground up and blended with the lower layers, making a new sub base. 

Pulverizing is a popular recycling method for a few reasons. It’s fast and easier than removing the asphalt and replacing it. It’s cheaper to do than milling. Finally, because it uses fewer materials, it’s more environmentally-friendly than milling as well.

 

Laying the recycled asphalt

  1. Clean the surface of any foreign debris like branches and leaves. Fill in large cracks and holes with sand, and break up large clumps of dirt. The idea is for the surface to be clean and smooth.
  2. Fill the area with asphalt until it is about one inch deep. Use rakes or other tools to make the area flat after laying the asphalt. 
  3. Tamp down the surface with a tamper. This is a tool for compacting the asphalt to remove air bubbles and ensure it is properly dense.
  4. Steamroll the asphalt. This further compacts it and ensures it melts together as one piece. 
  5. Seal coat the asphalt. This helps prevent future weather and water damage.

 

Other pavement recycling

Concrete

Concrete is removed, and broken down via crushing into certain sizes. Other materials, like rebar, reinforced steel, paints, and contaminants are then removed. Once the material is purified by removing other materials, it can be reused as concrete. 

This process is cheaper than getting new concrete. Disposing of heavy concrete is costly, as it costs money per-ton to take to a landfill. Of course, it is eco-friendly to recycle it as well, as it removes the need of mining more rock for concrete production. 

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt roof shingles are more difficult to recycle since they’re easily contaminated by outside sources and other roofing materials. Dangerous materials like asbestos are sometimes used in roofing and insulation, so someone recycling shingles has to be careful and conscientious. Other things, like waterproofing, nails, plastic, cellophane, adhesives, and paints can also contaminate the asphalt roof shingles. Asphalt shingles use a higher ration of oil to aggregate than pavement, so recycling the shingles lowers oil demand by more per ton than recycling pavement. 

Other environmentally friendly trends in paving

Open concrete grids

You’ve probably seen these before. Open concrete grids are made from square shaped cinder blocks with large holes in them. They are laid out in a grid shaped pattern, and the holes are filled with soil and seeded with durable plants. In the end, they look like checkerboards, but instead of black and red squares, the squares are green, with gray, concrete lines separating them.

Benefits of open concrete grids are many. They allow drainage, as water can easily pass through. They prevent erosion, as the earth is held in place by hard concrete, and they are strong enough to handle vehicles.

Porous pavement

In porous pavement, the aggregate is held together, but not with so much binder that it is impenetrable. The porous pavement can be permeated by water. As water can flow through it, this pavement is more sustainable because it is less likely to get cracks and damage from standing water.

Permeable pavers

These resemble closely-set stone pathways. Permeable pavers allow water to flow through joints or holes in the pavers themselves. They often look like natural stones, while being able to withstand weights similar to standard pavement. Again, these are more sustainable because by allowing water to pass through, they don’t develop cracks during the freeze-thaw cycle or other issues from standing water.

 

Looking for sustainable paving solutions?

Whether you are looking for asphalt paving, seal coating, recycling, or anything else about pavement, Reliable Paving has you covered. We are professional paving contractors with over 35 years of experience. Not only are we happy to help and give estimates on projects, we’re capable of large-scale paving operations for homes and businesses. Feel free to send us a message with whatever paving-related query you may have.

traffic cones on the street

The Science of Traffic Cone Placement

You’ve seen them a million times, because they’re all over the place: traffic cones. Whether it’s a minor inconvenience that makes you turn and take another street, or if you find a whole area of town is covered in them, you’ve been affected by those little orange cones more than once. There are an estimated 140 million being used at any point worldwide.

Even though we see them all the time, how much thought do you really pay traffic cones when you see them? If you’re like most people, the answer is: none.

In case you’re curious, or in case you need to know for your own paving project, here is an in-depth guide to traffic cones: what they are, what they are used for, and more.

How are cones used by contractors and pavers?

Also called TTC (temporary traffic controls) or safety cones, orange traffic cones are used to redirect traffic in a multitude of situations. They’re used to redirect drivers to avoid construction zones (such as when parts of pavement has recently received work or been sealcoated), and also to avoid road damage.

Traditionally, shorter traffic cones are 18-inches tall and used in lower-speed areas. Residential locations are where you are most likely to find these small, iconic cones.

Larger, 28-inch tall cones are used in high-speed areas like highways. They are more visible and can thus direct traffic from a further distance.

Basic usage guidelines include:

  • They must be orange and made of a material that can be struck by a car without causing major damage to the vehicle.
  • Day time and low-speed areas must use cones at least 18 inches high.
  • High-speed areas must use cones at least 28 inches high.
  • For nighttime use, cones must have reflectors. Cones 26-38 inches high must have 2 bands of white reflectors that measure 6 and 4 inches wide. 
  • They must be heavy or stable enough to withstand traffic and weather conditions. They can be doubled to increase weight in windy conditions. Ballast should be added minimally to keep them from moving while still preventing possible vehicle damage.

More details are available at the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices web page.

 

How do Drivers React to Traffic Cones?

Guidelines for acting Safety in Traffic Cone Areas

Remember, especially if you are driving a large truck or other heavy vehicle, cones don’t slow you down, your brakes do. Be sure to:

  1. Slow down with care near any cone zone.
  2. Stay alert: try to avoid any distractions like your phone, radio, or anything else.
  3. Think about any cone as though there were a person standing behind it.

 

Driving Safely in a Cone Area

Go Slowly

  • Always plan a route for extra travel time in the case of construction or other road blockages (i.e., expect the unexpected). 
  • Pay attention to the posted speed limits. Not only is it more dangerous to speed in cone zones, there are usually higher fines.
  • Allow extra space between vehicles. You can’t help being tailgated, but you can avoid tailgating the person in front of you.

Avoid Distractions

  • Don’t text or use any devices while driving. Just focus on the road.
  • Follow signs, flags, and worker directions.

Respect Roadside Workers

  • Slow down and pay attention in cone zones, even if you don’t see anyone working.
  • Be patient. 
  • Make eye contact with workers you do see, so they know you are aware of them.

Long story short: slow down, pay attention, follow the rules. If you do those things, you could save somebody’s life.

 

When to use Traffic Cones

Generally, individual drivers don’t carry any cones in their vehicle, and will be unlikely to use them. In fact, most people seem to think that cones are only for professional and construction purposes. However, there are times when they could be useful to you. For instance:

  1. Cones alert oncoming and passing traffic to your position. They are much more effective than a stopped car, even one with the emergency lights flashing. If people see cones around your vehicle, they are more likely to slow down, and even stop to help.
  2. If your car’s battery has died, the hazard lights might not work at all. Cones with reflectors can get people’s attention, not only to inform them to slow down, but to let emergency help know where you are.
  3. Cones can block off more area than just your car. In the case of a serious emergency like a traffic accident, you might need to place cones to protect car wreckage or an injured person. A stopped car only alerts other drivers to the car, whereas cones can block off and bring attention to a whole area.
  4. Cones can give advance warnings when there are sharp turns or hills that prevent long-distance viewing. This ensures safety by letting approaching drivers know what is coming up.

 

What are some other uses for traffic cones?

There are plenty of traffic cone uses outside of construction and roadside use. Obviously, cones are used to redirect traffic in the case of asphalt damage or construction, but they have plenty of other uses, some of which might surprise you.

They Can Warn of Indoor Hazards

Construction sites both outdoors and indoors can use traffic cones to warn people where not to drive or walk. Maybe the floor is slippery, or maybe it’s unstable; either way, traffic cones can be used for vehicular or foot traffic. They are also generally great ways to keep people out of remodeling or construction areas in general.

Controlling Foot Traffic in Crowded Areas

Cones are symbol of authority, too, since people think they’re only used by professionals. Therefore, they can be used both indoors and outdoors in crowded areas to cordon off areas for VIPs or simply to prevent overcrowding. You’ve probably seen some used in these situations and not even realized it.

 

Paving the Way for Better Cone Use

If you are looking for paving contractors who really know their stuff, including traffic cone use. Look no further than Reliable Paving. We are a high-quality paving contract with years of experience. We can do whatever job you have in mind when it comes to asphalt paving, asphalt repairs, and more, all while maintaining the highest level of safety standards—even down to our use of traffic cones.

parking lot

Parking Lot Maintenance for Lots that Receive Heavy Use

There are plenty of reasons to keep your parking areas well-maintained. First, you don’t want anyone’s car damaged if they use your lot. And second, the parking lot is often the first part of the business that a client experiences. A well-maintained parking lot reinforces the ideas of professionalism and quality. And third, well-kept asphalt degrades far slower and requires less expensive repair.

The level of use your lot receives complicates the maintenance of your asphalt. Places like grocery stores and restaurants have it easier, because they can do maintenance during closing hours. However, the case is not the same for airports, hospitals, and places that are used constantly—every day of the year. 

 

The Basics of Parking Lot Maintenance

Immediately after building your parking lot, start a maintenance routine

Keeping your lot maintained helps it in many ways. It saves money by being safer. A safe lot won’t have liability issues of customers injuring themselves or damaging their vehicles. It improves customer opinion of your business; a degraded and poorly maintained lot will give customers a negative impression before they even enter the building. And finally, a well-maintained lot won’t get seriously damaged as quickly, so you won’t have to fork over more money for serious repairs later on.

When your asphalt is installed, have it sealcoated 3-6 months later. A good plan for future parking lot maintenance is crack-filling and sealcoating every 3-5 years. You will want the lot treated more often depending on usage and weather conditions in your area.

Here is a good routine maintenance plan from Washington State University. 

Practice frequent visual inspections

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Set up a routine schedule for taking a look at your parking lot. Small problems like cracks, oil/gasoline stains, and standing water can be identified early that way. Cracks can be filled, chemicals removed, and drains cleaned in order to prevent much bigger future problems.

Keep it clean

Dirt and debris can cause few serious problems. They can damage cars and then asphalt when cars drive over them. Debris and garbage can be dangerous to people using the parking lot—broken glass, rusty metal, etc. can severely injure people. Dirt and debris can also block drains, causing damage and water build-up. 

Remove oil and gasoline immediately

These chemicals cause serious damage, so the sooner you deal with them, the better. Solvents like gasoline break down the binder that glues the asphalt together. The binder is the most expensive part of asphalt, and the hardest to repair. If you keep it in good condition, your pavement will last much longer.

Fill/seal cracks

Simply put: small cracks can lead to big ones. If you deal with the small cracks immediately, you solve two problems. Sealing small cracks prevents them from radiating out and creating more cracks (and, eventually, potholes). Sealing the small cracks also prevents water from getting in them and turning them into big cracks.

Clean out drains

Cleaning the drains around your parking lot helps get water out of there. Water is the main force of degradation and erosion in parking lots, and in nature. Even if you don’t live in a place with freezing temperatures, water can cause serious damage. Small amounts of water get into cracks, and then expands when the temperature drops. In a place that freezes, this can cause huge cracks to form overnight. In arid climates, where the temperature changes a lot according to time of day, this causes a huge amount of wear and tear on your lot.

Reroute traffic after maintenance

In order to ensure that your repairs can set, make sure to block of the area that was just worked on. This can be as easy as setting up some orange cones, or even blocking off a whole section of a parking lot.

If you want an in-depth manual for parking lot maintenance, look here.

 

How to Perform Maintenance on Parking Lots that are Used Heavily

The rules change quite a bit when your lot needs to be used 24/7/365. However, a few guidelines can significantly help you maintain a constantly used parking lot.

Routine visual inspections are more important

Because you won’t be able to shut the whole lot down, inspection is of utmost importance. Having one or several people inspect the lot doesn’t cut down on parking space or business, and it helps find problems faster. 

Fix small problems first

Fixing small cracks, cleaning, and removing gas/oil drippings goes a long way to preventing expensive and time-consuming repairs. A simple filling and sealing of a small crack means you don’t have to do a deep pavement repair. Smaller repairs can take days and hours, while larger repairs will take days and/or months. Fixing the surface is far easier than the foundation. Cleaning junk off a blacktop’s surface is easier than pulling it out of drains.

Build more space than you need

When you first build your lot, make sure to build more parking space than you think you will need. You build more space so that you can alternate which spaces are used according to repairs and maintenance.  If you have twice as much parking space as your business can accommodate, you can shut down half of your lot for repairs and still do 100% business. Having more space to work with also makes it easier to do routine work like cleaning and inspection.

Routine is important

Sticking with a maintenance routine is key. On top of reacting to damage as it appears, regular maintenance will help prevent non-visible damage. Things like sealcoating and cleaning help increase the pavement’s lifespan and prevents deeper damage later on.

 

Ready to Start Working on your Parking Lot?

Get in touch with Reliable Paving. Reliable paving is the Texas paving contractor that provides high-quality, professional service at affordable prices. Our services include asphalt paving, maintenance, repairs, striping, sealcoating, and much more. Whether you want your customers to have a good impression of your business from the moment they park, or you just want to repair your parking lot, Reliable Paving is the option for you. 

 

Asphalt Sealcoating machine

Why Should You Sealcoat Your Asphalt?

There are several ways to extend the life of your asphalt, and sealcoating is one of the best. Sealcoating is when you cover the surface of your asphalt with a sealer that fills in small cracks and prevents future wear and tear. This type of maintenance can help any asphalt installation—whether a driveway, or parking lot—last for 30 years or more. And not only does it help your asphalt last longer, it makes it look more attractive by giving it a new blacktop sheen.

 

What is an Asphalt Sealcoat?

An asphalt sealcoat is a solution that covers the top of pavement in order to protect it. Asphalt is made of aggregate (rocks and small stones) and binder (the glue that holds it all together). The sealcoat enables the binder to continue doing what it does by preventing the elements from getting at it. Think about it like “finishing” a piece of wood with enamel/surface sealant. 

The sealcoat is essentially a protector for the asphalt itself. It provides a weatherproof barrier that is the first line of defense against the elements. As time goes on and damage is accrued, the seal is what takes that damage rather than the asphalt.

There are different types of asphalt sealcoat available, and some older solutions are in fact banned due to the danger they pose. Make sure to get the right paving contractor so that you don’t wind up with dangerous chemicals on your property.

 

When is a Good Time to Sealcoat your Asphalt?

It’s smart to sealcoat your asphalt as soon as you see signs that it’s showing damage. It can also be done as a preventative measure before damage takes hold so that the life of the asphalt is prolonged. 

Here’s how you know when to sealcoat:

  1. If your pavement is showing early signs of damage.
  2. If your asphalt is installed in a place with strong weather that will invariably damage it.
  3. If you wish to extend your asphalt’s life.
  4. If you want the asphalt to look new while also preventing signs of decay.
  5. Your asphalt is six months to one-year-old.

 

How Does Asphalt get Damaged?

Asphalt gets damaged in all kinds of different ways, mostly by extreme weather. Asphalt is also damaged by the heavy vehicles that drive over it, making weather damage worse.

Sun Damage

UV (ultraviolet) light from the sun destroys all things over time. People and animals get this damage in the form of sunburn and skin cancer. Plants are damaged by overexposure to the sun and become dried-up and withered. Objects and inorganic things also get sun damage; bleaching and general decomposition happen over time. Asphalt is no exception.

Water Damage

Water damage is one of the main ways that small problems in asphalt become big problems. Little cracks frequently open up over time due to UV and automobile traffic. These small cracks let water in, and as water expands and contracts with temperature changes, the cracks become bigger. Water that seeps into cracks and freezes is one of the main ways that erosion happens. The water in tiny cracks in rock expands when it freezes, and that can even break boulders off of mountains with time. Asphalt receives the same kind of damage from water.

Another type of water damage is oxidation. This is more commonly called rust. When water interacts with iron over a long period, the iron starts to break down and cause rust. This can even happen with the small rocks and pebbles in asphalt, which contain trace amounts of iron. 

Chemical Damage

It may sound unlikely, but most asphalt will get some chemical damage over time. Driveways and parking lots will get especially damaged because parked cars will sometimes leak diesel, gasoline, and oil. These compounds are even more solvent than water and can cause more damage in shorter time. Sealcoating guards against these spills, preventing staining and damage to the top pavement layer.

Read more about how sealcoating works and what it protects against here.

 

What Other Reasons Are There to Sealcoat?

It Saves Money

A well-maintained asphalt road, driveway, or parking lot costs less over time. This is because extensive repair isn’t required. Filling small cracks with a sealer prevents things from getting in them and making those cracks worse. Weatherproofing pavement makes it last longer and take less damage over time. 

Simply put, if you sealcoat, you will have fewer big problems down the road.

 

It Prevents Plant Growth

As pavement cracks apart, weeds like dandelions and grass can start to grow through it. This might not do too much harm to the asphalt, but it is an eyesore, especially for asphalt paving in commercial spaces. Sealcoating doesn’t just make the driveway look shiny and new, it also stops sure signs of decay in their tracks.

 

It is Easier to Clean

The protective layer of a sealcoating makes the surface of asphalt less craggy and porous. This means it’s easier to clean because material doesn’t get into the little holes and cracks that develop on asphalt’s surface. The coating’s surface protection also means that, if you need to do a vigorous clean of the pavement with pressurized water or a cleaning solution, you don’t have to worry about damaging the pavement, as the sealcoat will be the first line of defense.

 

Should You Sealcoat Your Pavement?

If you answered yes to any of the questions posed before, then the answer is that you probably should get your asphalt sealcoated. To prevent damage, extend the life of your asphalt, and save costs down the line, then sealcoating your asphalt is the right choice. 

If you don’t know where to start, or if you don’t have the time to sealcoat your pavement yourself, contact Reliable Paving today. Our team is composed of experienced, professional paving contractors that can help you chose the right sealcoating job for your needs. Reliable Paving’s asphalt paving knowledge is second-to-none, and our services run the spectrum from sealcoating to repair to installation. Start the conversation today.

detour sign due to pothole

The Right and Wrong Way to Repair Potholes

Just about every road gets potholes at some point. Whether it’s from age, bad weather, or the road was paved poorly to begin with, potholes show up. But, how are they repaired? As with most things in life, they can be fixed the right way (and become lasting improvements on the road) or the wrong way, meaning they quickly open up again. Repairing potholes quickly and correctly is important because it prevents further degradation of the road.

How exactly do potholes form?

Potholes are caused by water. Water seeps into the areas underneath the road, and then it expands and contracts with changing temperatures, even in places with stable weather. In places with extreme weather, this problem is exacerbated.

As the water expands and contracts, vehicles continue to drive over the road. This eventually wears down the weak piece of road, causing it to open. Thus, a pothole is formed.

When can potholes not be repaired?

Small hairline cracks that are one-eighth an inch or less can’t be filled with asphalt, and they are usually safely ignored. However, if an area is covered in a large network of these cracks, then a surface seal can be used over the area. The surface seal must be fluid enough to seep into the cracks and securely bind them.

How can potholes be repaired?

The wrong way

It seems easy enough just fill in the open hole in the road or parking lot with new asphalt, right? This actually is just a temporary stopgap. The pothole will almost certainly reappear, and the area between the old asphalt and new asphalt will become the weakest part of the road.

The fast and easy way to fill in a pothole with asphalt is commonly used by less-experienced and less-professional workers. It’s common to see these types of repairs in developing areas or poverty-stricken regions that can’t afford proper workers, equipment, or training.

The right way

To properly repair a pothole, there are several steps that must be followed. And different procedures are followed depending on the size of the crack or pothole.

Clean The pothole

The pothole can easily be cleaned by hand with simple tools like shovels and rakes. First, small pieces of stone, asphalt, and other debris must be removed. Afterwards, high pressure water, high pressure air, sandblasting, or a wire cleaner can be used to clean out fine materials. The cleaning process ensures that the adhesive used will bind the filler to the road properly, and that the filler won’t simply break apart or come in the near future.

Measure the pothole

After cleaning, the crack or pothole must be measured for depth and length. This gives a good idea of how much material will be needed for the repair, and if other equipment besides asphalt can be used in the pothole.

Repairing cracks

In order to conserve sealant, a backer rod is often places in the cracks. The rod simply reinforces the structure and enables repairers to use less asphalt for filling in the crack. The backer rod should be non-compressible, non-shrinking, and non-absorbent, and have a higher melting temperature than the asphalt used to fill in the crack.

Filling in the crack

After the crack is cleaned and prepared, it’s sealed with liquid asphalt. Various types of equipment can be used for pouring the asphalt (depending on the size of the crack). The filler should fill the crack from the top to the bottom, but should be about one quarter to one eighth of an inch lower than the surface of the crack. Completely filling in the crack prevents air bubbles from forming and weakening the newly-filled crack.

Patching a large pothole

Quick repair

A quick repair is a surface-level patch that is often temporary. Asphalt is poured on the pothole and the surface is leveled. This prevents further destruction of the road, but will not last long.

Full repair

The full repair of a pothole is a much more intensive process. The entire surface area of the pavement must be removed before the patching process begins. Deep patching removes the top four inches or more of asphalt so the hole can be repaired, while full-depth patching removes the entire area of pavement to start from the ground up. Full depth patching can be used for concrete and pavement, while deep patching is used only on asphalt.

Full-depth patching may even require removal of the surface below the pavement (the sub-grade), and may require drainage. Full-depth patching requires not only repair equipment but also excavation tools, as the pavement is removed (about one foot deep or more) and is cut out in square shapes. So, if you have seen square or rectangular holes in the road, the pavement was probably undergoing a full-depth patch.

The full-depth patch should be filled with a dense, hot-mix asphalt. A well-filled full-depth patch will be slightly overfilled as there will be some compaction thanks to traffic.

For more in-depth information on pothole repair, check here.

If you are interested in U.S. government procedures and policies regarding repair of potholes in asphalt paved surfaces, look here.

Is it urgent?

When it comes to sealing cracks and patching potholes, it’s important to nip the problems in the bud. Once the paved area gets to a significantly poor condition, it’s no longer viable to repair, and it’s better to remove it and replace everything.

Getting potholes filled

If you have potholes on your property that you need filled, you probably want it done properly. This ensures one-time fixes that won’t require additional visits from contractors. Be sure to hire a professional paving contractor with a proven record. If you happen to be looking for one, look no further than Reliable Paving. Our high-quality asphalt paving work will ensure that you get the best service for your job.

How to Hire the Best Paving Contractor

Businesses face plenty of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is always deciding on who to use as a contractor when paving work has to be done. There are plenty of ways to pick out a good choice, from seeking a colleague’s recommendation to jumping on Google for a quick search.

The question will often boil down to this: do you want the cheapest serviceable work, or do you want to pay for quality? Is there a better way to ensure getting the best bang for your buck?

Choosing the right asphalt paving company for your business

Paving is a pretty specific, specialized industry. You should look for the right traits in a company to make your choice of paving contractor.

There are a few special things to look at when you make your decision, including:

  • Reviews
  • Licenses
  • Equipment
  • Workers
  • And previous work and company history

Reviews

Thanks to the internet, reviews are one of the easiest things to find. Yelp, Google, Yellow Pages, Amazon, the Better Business Bureau…the list goes on. A search on your choice of directory or search engine should get you what you want.

What to look for in reviews?

Remember, look for the average review, not the outliers. There will always be someone out there with an ax to grind. Maybe some client had a bad day and decided to take it out on the company they hired. Maybe the customer is always difficult, and uses online reviews as an outlet. Don’t get too bothered by the worst reviews.

Look at the vast majority of reviews, and look at the best reviews, too. What did the people who got the best service have to say? If an overwhelming majority of the reviews are positive (for example, 80%, a 4-star average or higher), then the company probably has good customer service and does good work.

Also, be aware that some companies will fill a site with fake reviews to look better online. This is an instant red flag, and without a doubt, you should avoid companies that fake their feedback.

Finally, be sure to check the dates of the reviews. Companies change over the years; they can go from bad to quite good…or vice versa.

Licenses

Insurance

Paving companies—and construction companies at large—often save a few dollars by skimping on the required (or prudent) insurance. The low price may look great to the end consumer, but your risk is greater. If any accidents happen, then your business’s insurance will be what covers damages. This could lead to a vast increase in premiums down the road. There could also be legal fallout.

You should look for a paving company that has general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. That way, any accident should be covered, whether it results in material or personal damage. They should also have insurance on all commercial vehicles for paving equipment, and an insurance umbrella policy.

How do you find out if the company has insurance? Ask them.

Professional licenses

Professional licenses are a strong guarantee of professionalism. A proper paving company should have business and contractor licenses. This helps you ensure that the workers are trained professionals, and it shows that the business is legitimate.

When vetting a company, be sure to ask what licenses they have.

Equipment

Obviously, you want to hire a company with good equipment. If you can, visit the company headquarters. What does the equipment look like? Is it old or in bad condition? You can ask about the makes and models of their vehicles as well, including what year they were built.

Do a little research and check out the average lifespan of their paving equipment. Find out when the paving vehicles become unreliable. Check out the online reviews again too, look for a lot of complaints from customers about old or damaged equipment.

Workers

You would prefer to hire a company that uses reliable workers. There are a few ways to check out how good the workers at a company are:

  1. Check online reviews again. See what other customers had to say about the employees. Were the workers helpful? Did they do a good job? Did they go above and beyond?
  2. Look at websites for rating employers, too. Glassdoor and Indeed are two of the biggest, but there are many. Use your favorite search engine to find worker reviews. What have current and former employers said? Did they like the managers? Did they think they were fair and were dedicated to good work? How did they feel about their coworkers? What was the climate at work like? If you see huge number of complaints from employees about it being a bad work place, then you can guess that the workers there don’t have high morale.
  3. Finally, ask about the longevity of employees when you are vetting companies. If many workers have been at the company for a long time, it’s a good sign. It means the company invests in its workers to improve them. It also means that workers like the company, so they stay. A company that treats its workers well and has high retention rate is usually more professional and has good employee morale.

Previous work and company history

Commercial paving companies often take big jobs, like airports, stadiums, and large entertainment venues. If the company did work on things like airports or other government property, then their work is public record. You can even go to these public places and see their work for yourself.

Looking back at a company’s history, you can see how long they’ve been in business. Usually, the longer a company has been in business, the higher the standards, and the better work you can expect.

How is Asphalt Made

Even though you see it just about everywhere, most people don’t think a whole lot about asphalt. Everyone knows that roads, parking lots, and sidewalks are made from asphalt, but what else is? Airport runways, tennis courts, bike paths, coating for pipes, roof coating, and even the undercarriages of vehicles use asphalt. Some lesser-known uses for asphalt include capsules for radioactive waste, sealant on batteries, and waterproof covering for fabrics. Its most-common use, however, is for road surfaces, as about 85% of asphalt is used in road building.

The word itself comes from the Greek ásphaltos, which roughly means to stop something from falling down. The oldest known use of asphalt is in the 5th century BC, lining a basket for holding crops. It has been used to line baths and even to caulk ships, and ancient North Americans used it to attach heads to arrows and spears.

But what is asphalt and how exactly is this surprisingly present substance made?

What is asphalt?

Asphalt, known also as bitumen, is a sticky, black, semi-solid form of petroleum (oil). It can be found naturally in oil deposits. Places like the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, the Dead Sea in Israel, and other large pits can contain natural asphalt.

Most asphalt today, though, is refined from crude oil.

Asphalt is used as the glue to bind together small, rocky pieces of what is usually gravel or small stones. This is usually known as pavement.

Asphalt is commonly used in roads, but it is also a waterproofing and sealing agent.

Manufactured Asphalt

Most asphalt is made according to what it’s required to do—that is, the process is different whether the final product is road pavement, airport tarmac, or pipe coating. There are some similarities in how all asphalt is made, though.

Distillation

Step one of making asphalt is distilling crude oil. This means that the crude oil is separated into different parts, usually with chemicals or heat. The separated parts become various things; gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and other oil products. The heavy compounds left over from the distilling process make “topped” (distilled) crude oil for heating gas and other products like asphalt.

Cutting Back

Asphalt may be blended with other agents to create asphalt for different uses. The blending process, called “cutting,” varies according to the cutting agent. Whatever cutting agent determines how light the asphalt is, how easy it is to change its form it is, it’s melting temperature, and how quickly it sets (hardens).

Emulsifying

Asphalt can also be emulsified, which means that small droplets of one liquid become dispersed throughout another liquid (that’s a very simple definition, mind you—if you are curious about emulsifying in depth, look here). Asphalt may be emulsified by water, clay, soap, vegetable oils, and more. Some common emulsions are vinaigrette and homogenized milk. The emulsifying process lets asphalt be sent through tubes, or sprayed.

Crushing and Filtering

Hardened asphalt is sometimes pulverized and then filtered until the tiny granules are the same size. When mixed with oil and aggregate (the small pieces of rock and gravel), asphalt can be used for pavement construction.

Air Injection

If the asphalt will be used as a coating, it is often treated with air. Heated asphalt is pumped with air until air bubbles form in it. This process makes asphalt that can stay in a liquid state even at low temperatures.

Paving Asphalt

In the United States, asphalt and pavement are often used interchangeably. However, asphalt actually only makes up about 4-5% of pavement weight, and is by-far, it is the highest-cost part of road paving materials. Asphalt has more than tripled in price since 2002, now costing more than 610 dollars per ton. For more information on asphalt’s usage in highways and costs, check here.

There are a few main types of asphalt used in paving, and they go by the simple names: hot mix, warm mix, and cold mix.

Hot Mix Asphalt

Hot mix asphalt is most likely what you see all around you. Odds are high that this is the asphalt used in paving projects on the streets and highways.

Hot mix asphalt is made by heating asphalt to between 300 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It is then poured at that temperature. Hot mix asphalt repels water and is strongly weather resistant, hence its popularity. Finally, it also sets quickly, so it can only be poured on days that are over 40 degrees.

Warm Mix Asphalt

Using fewer fossil fuels and a lower temperature (200-250 degrees) than hot mix, warm mix is used in less construction, but is can be used in more situations as well. It cools more slowly, so can be poured in colder climates, and it is also easier to ship. Warm mix asphalt is generally cheaper than hot mix asphalt.

Cold Mix Asphalt

Cold mix asphalt is the cheapest of the three, but has a much narrower range of use. It is usually used for repairing the other two types of mixes. It fills cracks and potholes, and is more of a stopgap measure than a permanent solution. Cold mix does not last as long as the other two mixes.

Aggregates

Pavement is actually made up of about 95% aggregates. So one of the final steps in making asphalt is to mix in sand, gravel, and stone. For detailed information on how asphalt is used, what it’s future could be, and how it’s made, check out this article, too.

Getting the Highest Quality Asphalt Services

The educated buyer will want a paving contractor that not only provides a range of paving services, but also ensures quality and legal compliance. Seal coating, asphalt paving, asphalt repairs, crack sealing, and more are all some of the top-quality services offered by Reliable Paving, based out of Arlington, Texas.

Our high-quality equipment and well-trained staff can guarantee you the best asphalt and paving-related services for your dollar. To get the best paving you can, contact us at Reliable Paving today and we will get right in touch.