What Effect Does Cold Weather Have on Pavement?

If you live in a part of the country that has cold wet winters, you can sympathize with the frustrating appearance of potholes all over the streets and roads every spring. What might be a perfectly pleasant road to drive down one day, can be marred with massive pothole the next. Definitely not the kind of surprise you want to encounter on your morning commute. Why does this happen?

It isn’t just a coincidence that these potholes appear at the end of winter. Asphalt reacts in very predictable ways to wet and cold. These two elements can both cause damage to asphalt over time, and are especially lethal when working together.

Effect of Cold Weather on Pavement

Like many other materials, asphalt contracts when it gets cold. This means that when temperatures drop below freezing (as they do every winter in many parts of the country), the asphalt in roads and sidewalks shrinks into itself. This reaction weakens the integrity of the surface, and makes the pavement more susceptible to cracking and damage. This damage often occurs when car tires pass over the contracted pavement, and is especially bad on busy streets or highways where traffic can do considerable damage in very little time. It can only take a matter of days for a small crack to begin to develop into a larger pothole.

Effect of Wet Weather on Pavement

The heavy precipitation that often comes along with winter months can further contribute to this damage. As water seeps into pavement, it makes the asphalt more susceptible to temperature changes. There are some asphalts now that are created to be porous. This means that water can filter through them more readily, thus causing less damage even during sever rain or freezing temperatures. Not only are these asphalts great for the environment because they help reduce the risk of flooding and allow precipitation to return to water tables, but they also tend to incur less damage during these wet times of year. A pavement specialist will be able to tell you if your driveway is a good candidate for porous asphalt.

How to Help Your Pavement Last

A qualified specialist will know exactly what the best paving decisions are considering your region’s climate. What makes sense in Arizona probably isn’t what you want in Pennsylvania. Hot-mix asphalt pavement is most commonly used in the Midwest and North East where winter temperatures are most frigid, but may not make the most sense in other parts of the country.

Finding a Qualified Paving Specialist

If you’re considering repaving your driveway or taking on another paving job around your property, it is imperative to hire an experienced pavement company. There’s nothing more frustrating than a brand new driveway that is filled with cracks and potholes after just one winter. Look online or ask around with friends and neighbors to find a qualified specialist who has experience laying pavement in your region. With a little research you’ll be better off finding a trustworthy contractor for the job.