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.



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 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 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.