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One of the most widely known facts about asphalt is that it has exceptional waterproofing characteristics. Therefore, many people are surprised to learn that rain can have a detrimental effect on asphalt parking lots. Furthermore, the water can inflict damage whether it remains on the surface or penetrates beneath it.

How Does Rain Inflict Damage on the Surface of Asphalt Parking Lots?

Asphalt is a petroleum distillate. In other words, it contains oil, and you have probably heard the saying about how oil and water do not mix. Even minor depressions in the pavement’s surface, which Atlanta asphalt contractors often call birdbaths, can collect and retain water. The water in these puddles can break down the bond between the asphalt binder and the aggregates in the mix. These birdbaths can turn into potholes. In addition, water can break the bond in other areas, resulting in small cracks that can worsen rapidly if not repaired promptly. Breaks in the pavement also allow the water to penetrate beneath the surface and inflict serious damage. Furthermore, if the parking lot has insufficient drainage, the rain can back up around the pavement’s perimeter, leading to edge cracking. Water can also accumulate around drains and catch basins, inflicting damage on the surrounding asphalt.

How Does Rain Inflict Damage Beneath the Surface of Asphalt Parking Lots?

Parking lot paving contractors follow a series of steps when paving in Atlanta. The three steps that are the most critical are the compaction of the subgrade, the construction of an aggregate base, and the placement of multiple courses of asphalt. The steps for installing an asphalt overlay involve milling the pavement, then placing and compacting several asphalt courses. Although asphalt overlays can also suffer water damage, the following information applies to a new or reconstructed pavement installed by a paving company.

1. The subgrade and the base layers form the foundation of the pavement. The foundation is what gives asphalt pavements the ability to support the weight of traffic without damage by flexing and rebounding in response to the load. The foundation must be stable and strong, but water can erode it, making it weaker and unstable.
2. Air pockets will form between the pavement and a weakened, unstable foundation. The pavement will subside over these air pockets, and potholes will form. If not repaired quickly, the potholes can spawn a network of cracks that radiate out in all directions.
3. Another unfortunate consequence of a damaged foundation is alligator cracking. Alligator cracking, sometimes called spiderweb cracking or crocodile cracking, is a unique type of damage that consists of interconnected cracks that form a pattern reminiscent of the scales on a reptile’s back. Normal filling or sealing methods used for surface cracks are ineffective for repairing alligator cracking. Instead, a paving company will need to remove the damaged area, repair the foundation, and then replace the asphalt.
4. As water is drawn down through the structure of the pavement, it can inflict damage to every asphalt course between the surface and the foundation. Water can be trapped between courses for a time, allowing it to destroy the bonds holding the pavement together. Because this damage is not immediately visible, the deterioration can continue for months or even years before it becomes obvious. Furthermore, every time this trapped water freezes and thaws, the damage is exacerbated.

The Surface Masters is an experienced, well-respected commercial paving company serving the Atlanta metropolitan area. Our services include asphalt overlays, asphalt paving, pavement markings, asphalt milling, asphalt reclamation, sealcoating, asphalt repairs, crack sealing, and concrete and curbing work. We have an impeccable reputation for reliability, craftsmanship, integrity, and customer satisfaction. For a free quote, use our online form to submit your request, email Info@TheSurfaceMasters.com, or call 770-250-6392.

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