December 09, 2019
Is it possible to use asphalt in the winter? The short answer is yes, but there’s a catch. Cold patch asphalt is usable in the winter to fill some pot holes in an emergency. If paving with hot asphalt is the goal, however, it’s better to wait for the spring and summer months. For it to perform at its best, asphalt needs to remain at a consistently high temperature. That’s increasingly more difficult to do on frozen ground with below freezing temperatures.
Many recommend to pave with asphalt in the spring during the thaw, as the weather during that time is better suited for paving. You’ll have a bigger window to schedule the paving, you won’t have to worry as much about the cold or snow, and conditions will be somewhat dry. The ideal time, however, is mid-summer when the temperature is always warm and there isn’t as much rain. The air and ground temperature are the two biggest factors to consider when paving with asphalt, so warmer is better.
You should never lay hot asphalt on frozen ground. In that instance, the asphalt will transform into a poor-quality mix and will break down almost immediately. Even though the asphalt is transported and laid at a high temperature, it freezes and stiffens when applied to frozen ground. This will result in pot holes and massive cracks when the ground thaws.
When paving asphalt, dry weather is important. It can’t rain or snow when the asphalt get laid down. The ground must also be completely dry; there can’t be any water or snow on it during paving. Just like when it’s applied to frozen ground, the quality of the asphalt becomes compromised when applied to wet ground. Temperature of the hot asphalt dictates how well it will compact once on the ground. If it cools too fast, the asphalt won’t compact and compress together to form a strong bond. Loose asphalt leads to premature cracks and potholes.
While you technically can pave with asphalt in the winter, it’s a horrible idea. The combination of frozen ground, excessive snow, and moisture will mean a poor-quality paving job. There will be large cracks that the best sealcoating tank and repair kits in the world won’t save. You will have to do it again in a few short years. It’s better to wait for ideal conditions to do the job right the first time.
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