Summer is the Best Season to Do Asphalt Paving

Maybe you need a parking lot seal coated, maybe you need repairs done on a drive, maybe you want to expand your business and thus need more sidewalk and parking lot. Whatever the reason for your yearly paving project, there is definitely a best time to get it done. Late spring through summer make for the best times to get asphalt and paving projects done.

Longer Setting Times

The fact that the summer heat keeps the asphalt from hardening might sound like a problem. Asphalt that takes too long to set means you have an unusable area of road or pavement that holds up business. It also means that there is more room for error when the pavement is being laid and shaped in the first place, right?

In fact, it’s the opposite. When asphalt takes longer to set, it gives paving crews a longer time to work with it. Paving crews have a whole host of equipment for flattening asphalt as they lay it. Things like smoothing irons, lutes, and even steamrollers are all used after laying. They help flatten the asphalt, creating a smooth, uniform surface. In colder temperatures, the asphalt takes much less time to set (harden) after it is laid. This means the odds of having bumps and ridges is much higher.

Summer is the best time to lay asphalt, because it gives pavement contractors longer to smooth it and set it properly.

In 40° F weather, a 1.5-inch deep only has 16 minutes available for compaction. The same thickness (1.5 inches) takes 24 minutes in 80° F weather. Similarly, 3-inch thick asphalt has about a 45-minute compaction window in 40° F weather, and over 65-minute window in 80° F weather. On this page there’s a handy chart of when asphalt is workable according to its thickness and temperature.

Greater Stability

The summer’s warmth also helps with a few other parts of the setting process as well. The consistent warm temperatures of summer days usually means that the asphalt is much more uniform when it is laid as well. This means that the likelihood of air bubbles is much less. When the asphalt is throughout its thickness it is not only easier to work with, but also much more resistant to damage. 

One of the main ways in which asphalt incurs damage is through water seeping into small cracks and then air bubbles. When the water expands and contracts with the temperature, those small cracks become bigger ones. Over time, things like ruts and potholes will form as well. 

Regardless of the season, asphalt should be smooth, flat, and uniform. This gives it the longest life and prevents the most damage. It’s easiest to lay asphalt this way during the summer, as the high temperatures allow it to be worked more carefully.

More Time to Work

Often asphalt laying can be done by machine. But just as often, it requires labor-intensive handiwork. The surface asphalt has to be smoothed, and raked by hand. Asphalt placed in a cramped area might not be able to get a steamroller to fit, so it may need to be compressed manually, or with a hand-controlled compactor. 

We already know that summer provides warmer temperatures for working with asphalt. Another summer benefit is longer daylight hours. Longer hours simply means that there is more time to work safely, easily, and cheaply. Many pavement contractors will charge higher costs for working in the dark or at night due to the increased risk. 

Seal Coating Dries Faster in the Summer

After placing any asphalt, especially for parking lots and driveways, a paving crew will apply sealant. This material does exactly what its name implies. It coats the pavement in a breathable, durable, protective shell. This shell enables the asphalt to be used for longer by essentially weatherproofing it. The seal plugs pores and tiny holes in the asphalt that would normally allow water and other solvents in. Just preventing damage from liquids getting in the pavement is far more cost effective, and seriously extends the life of the asphalt. 

Warm asphalt absorbs sealant better than cool asphalt. Sealant normally takes about one to three days to dry — depending on the humidity and temperature. 

Seal Coating is Easier to do in the Summer

Sealant requires a temperature of over 50° F, and a 24-hour period without heavy rain. This is a much easier feat to accomplish in the summer than in most other seasons. Read more about proper seal coating here.

Better Weather

We know that summer can bring out some bad weather. Tornado Alley extends from Northern Texas to South Dakota. Unfortunately, with climate change and more accurate meteorology, we’ve seen that the high-risk tornado zone in the US is much larger, including a greater swathe of the South and Midwest. Tornadoes, hailstorms, heavy winds and rain…these are all parts of summer in much of America.

Summer is still one of the most reliable paving times though. The steady days of no rain, and warm, consistent weather make it great for planning and executing paving and asphalt jobs. The summer heat, combined with humidity, make the night-day temperature differential smaller. Freezes aren’t a concern, and that is definitely another plus. Finally, less inclement weather is good for any construction project. Anything that helps work get done within-budget, and on-time is a huge benefit.

Looking for Help With Your Summer Paving Project?

If you are thinking about getting a project done over the summer, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reliable Paving is a top-notch paving contractor, serving Texas and surrounding states. With over 35 years of experience, 19 crews with over 200 employees, and numerous paving services, we are ready to meet your needs. If you have any questions about your summer project, want a quote, or just need some advice, get in touch with us today.