Asphalt seal coating, The Right Treatment on the Right Road at the Right Time
By Eric M. Reimschiissel
American Pavement Preservation
The asphalt pavements placed in the Southern Nevada area are placed and expected to perform in our difficult climate conditions. The Las Vegas and Southern Nevada area climates are extremely hot in the summer with ambient temperatures at times over 115 degrees on a sunny hot summer day, causing the asphalt pavement surface temperatures to be over 170 degrees or more. Conversely, during the winter months, the ambient temperatures can be less than 30 degrees at night causing the asphalt pavement surface temperatures to be below freezing. In addition to the cold, we have wet conditions at times with water entering the asphalt pavement surfaces increasing the potential for surface degradation. Engineers and chemists try to design the base asphalt products in the asphalt pavements for our climate conditions to be stiff and strong in the hot summer sun so that they are able to support the traffic loads and then to be soft and pliable in the winter months to allow the pavement to flex and move with the expansion and contraction due to the temperature changes in the winter months without cracking. This is a difficult and almost impossible task.
How do we deal with the extreme climate changes and conditions to protect our costly asphalt surfaces and protect our investment? The asphalt surfaces in the Las Vegas and Southern Nevada area require seal coating to protect the asphalt from the weather. Asphalts left open to the elements and sun will start to deteriorate within a few years and after about ten years become extremely brittle, rough and raveled and in poor condition. As the asphalt pavements surface condition deteriorates, the costs to mitigate the lack of attention are increased to the point of needing repairs and or complete replacement. Once the pavement is deteriorated the residents will see and feel the rough surface and failed areas while driving.
An asphalt pavement should be sealed within the first two years of being placed to protect the surface from the elements and the sun. Some wonder why we would spend the money and resources to seal a new pavement that looks perfectly fine. The simple answer is to preserve and keep the pavement in a new condition. The same question could be asked why we place vegetables in a can when the vegetable is fresh. The same answer applies being that we want to preserve the vegetables to keep them fresh and in good condition. The same rational applies to an asphalt surface, we protect and preserve it by placing the seal coat on the surface to preserve the new asphalt in a new condition. The longer a person waits to seal an asphalt pavement surface allows the pavement surface to continue to deteriorate. Sealing a new street surface protects and keeps the pavement surface in a new condition. If we wait and then seal a ten year old neglected asphalt pavement surface, although necessary, we are still protecting the pavement but in a ten year old condition. Keeping pavements sealed will keep the pavements new and serviceable for a long time. I have seen asphalt surfaces in the Las Vegas area that have been taken care of with regular attention and sealed lasting over 30 years.
Stay tuned because in future articles I will talk about the various types of seal coats and what types of pavements the seal coats work well on. There is a lot of responsibility placed on the Homeowners Association Board Members and their management to make the correct decision. Taking the correct action and applying what the asphalt pavement needs is important. Sometimes one application is not as cost effective as another. The Federal Highway Association and the International Slurry Surfacing Association have stated in reference to pavement surface treatments and seal coating the following statement: The Right Treatment to the Right Pavement at the Right time. I believe this statement provides guidance to us. The low cost of one seal coat over another type of seal coat is not always the best application in the long term and promises of longevity into the future are not always correct. I want to provide information to help and enable you to make the correct decisions for your asphalt pavements and to be proactive in taking care of them. I believe that “Asphalt Pavement Preservation” done timely and correctly will save us all money, protect the investments we have made in our asphalt pavement surfaces and allow the pavements to be serviceable and looking good for the long term.
By Eric M. Reimschiissel