When is Asphalt Season?
Is Asphalt Season really a time of year? Or is it more of a feeling? Is the real Asphalt Season the friends we made along the way? Or is it something more?
Let’s clear up the confusion that we’ve created: Asphalt Season is the time of year when it’s feasible to pave asphalt in parking lots, roads and other projects. There are some areas of the country where Asphalt Season is year round because it just doesn’t get that cold.
Can You Do Asphalt in Winter?
Sorry to say, but if you’re reading this, you probably don’t live in a place where they can do asphalt year round.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re living in a place that gets cold. Real cold. Minnesota cold. And that means there is a definite Asphalt Season.
No, you can’t do asphalt in winter in Minnesota.
Why Can’t You Do Asphalt When it’s Cold?
To answer that question, we need to answer a few more questions.
What Is Asphalt Made Of?
Asphalt is a hot mix of crude oil and crushed rock. The sticky pitch creates a binding agent for the stones and when it cures it hardens to a firm surface which can be smoothed. You know that weird smell asphalt has? That’s the first clue as to what it’s made of: that’s the smell of burning pitch.
Since it’s a hot mix, asphalt can’t cure properly if it’s cooled too quickly. You’ll end up with cracked, damaged, and structurally unsound asphalt if it does not cure correctly and at that point it’s a waste of your time and money.
The point of all of this is to have a functional parking lot for your customers to get to your business. Or for your workers to park their cars so that they can get to work. If your parking lot is in poor condition, then you won’t get that benefit. That’s why we don’t do asphalt in winter.
How Far Down Do you Need to Excavate for an Asphalt Parking Lot?
Typically you have to excavate up to 6 inches down for an asphalt parking lot. But that’s an average. Only an engineer would know for sure, and that engineer’s plan is required for your permit approval. For some projects, like heavy industrial or road construction, you can be excavating down to 18 inches.
Some people assume that you excavate the same amount of material for an asphalt parking lot as a concrete parking lot. Oh no. In some cases you end up taking way more out for asphalt than for concrete. That has to do with the force distribution of the materials.
We go over that in another blog, but briefly: Concrete spreads weight better over its surface than asphalt does. Asphalt transfers the weight of an object directly down into the ground below.
Which is why you need a thick base of gravel. And in order to excavate that far down in winter, you need to keep the frost out of the ground. And with the amount we’d have to excavate? It costs more.
But sometimes you just need to get it done.
To offer a compromise: we could do the excavation for the parking lot and the earth work over the winter and just do the asphalt first thing in the spring.
What Kind of Asphalt Work am I Going to Need?
There are three kinds of asphalt work we are going to go through here: Asphalt Patching (or pothole filling), Mill and Overlay (or asphalt replacement or repair) and a New Parking Lot.
How to patch asphalt? This is also known as pothole filling and it’s fairly easy if you have the right tools. That’s a big “if” though. Not everyone is going to have the equipment necessary to safely transport hot asphalt so it’s best to give a contractor a call.
But it’s not a hard concept. You take the hot asphalt and you shovel it directly into a pothole. Or if it’s a really bad area you excavate around and take out some of the old asphalt and put fresh asphalt on top. Then you tamp it down.
As far as commercial asphalt projects go, this one is easy and will cost you the least amount of money. Unfortunately, that’s not all that always needs to be done.
This is where you have a larger section of the parking lot surface which is cracked. You may also have the underlying layers failing as well, or you may never have put in the proper base to begin with. Now we’re looking at some more serious asphalt repair.
We can excavate the whole surface (or “mill” it and recycle it), pour down hot asphalt and then pave over it with a roller (“overlay”). This is a bit more involved because you’re talking about a whole section rather than a single patch.
How much does Mill and Overlay cost? Mill and Overlay Cost depends on how big of an area you need. We usually do asphalt recycling to save on materials, where we just mill up the old asphalt and use it for the parking lot paving.
How Does That Compare to a New Parking Lot Cost?
Mill and Overlay is done to an existing parking lot, but when asphalt season strikes you could have a hankering to build a brand new parking lot for your customers or employees. You could have just built a new retail park, or you bought some land by the US Bank stadium and you want to turn that into a parking lot for Vikings gameday.
Mill and Overlay is going to be close to a new parking lot cost but not quite because of the excavation involved. With Mill and Overlay, the cost can be minimal depending on how good the original parking lot was underneath. If you’ve got a good underlying base, then you ought to save money on excavation (since we don’t have to do much in terms of removing existing material).
But with a brand new parking lot, there’s just no way to avoid excavation if you want to do it right. While Mill and Overlay costs might be most heavily weighted towards the asphalt paving cost, a new parking lot is going to lean more heavily towards excavation cost being the bulk of the cost.
Goodmanson Construction has Estimators Ready to Get your Asphalt Project Started
Whether it’s patching, repairing or building something brand new: Goodmanson Construction has the technology, the training and the resources to get the job done right.
When you make an investment in something like a parking lot or a service road, you want to know it’s something that’s going to last and bring you value for years to come. You want to know you’re working with the best in Minnesota.
Give our estimators a call or fill out an online estimate request to get your project started.