Do construction crews pave in the rain?

Clients often ask whether asphalt pavement can be applied in the rain. The answer depends on various factors — the first of which is to define “rain.” To some people, light intermittent sprinkles are rain, but others might use the same word to describe a torrential downpour. As a rule, a few sprinkles are seldom cause to stop activities on a job in progress. A heavy rain normally shuts down activities, and even a lighter rain may justify halting work if it is falling steadily.

The amount of rain that can be tolerated also depends on the foundation on which the asphalt is to be applied. If paving a new road, for example, and the base is well-drained, stable and well-compacted, crews have a little more leeway than if they were applying a thin overlay. However, it is imperative that asphalt be applied over a firm, dry foundation, so if there are puddles of standing water, run-off is flowing into the work area or the base is so wet that its stability has been compromised, work should not continue.

Another important factor to consider is how much the rain is lowering the temperature. At 40 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, crews have only 16 minutes to work a 1.5-inch application of asphalt before it hardens. This is often not enough time to ensure that the asphalt can be properly compacted and the critical bond formed.

If work must be suspended on a project because of rain, crews should take certain steps.
• Install a vertically facing construction joint.
• Tarp supplies that are still on the truck and keep them tarped.
• Empty any material remaining in the hopper, but do so properly.
• Protect the project area from dirt, mud or soil-rich run-off.

The best time to install asphalt pavement is when the temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the weather is dry. Depending on the nature of the project, its stage of completion, the condition of the foundation and the amount of precipitation that is falling, it might be possible for asphalt pavement to be installed while it is raining. However, it is also important to remember that asphalt surfaces are designed to have a long life when properly installed and maintained. It is important to make sure that the installation will not reduce the pavement’s life.

The Surface Masters is an expert in laying asphalt pavement. Contact The Surface Masters to schedule an appointment by calling (770) 250-6392. If you’re not ready to commit to a service appointment, you can check out the complete list of services and request a free quote by filling out a quick, easy online form.