Congratulations! You’ve added a new asphalt parking lot to your commercial property! Nothing beats a freshly paved asphalt parking lot or driveway. It’s not as cute as a puppy, but it is very nice. Asphalt pavements are known for their durability and aesthetics, but they will quickly lose both of these if they’re not cared for properly. If you take good care however, your new paving project can last you as long as 30 years or more. You may think that taking care of new asphalt paving is not a priority until the pavement is older, but the attention you give it while it’s in its infancy can affect its appearance and longevity Here are some essential do’s and don’ts in caring for your freshly paved work of art:

car parking lotsDo Keep your pavement clean.

If any gasoline, oil, brake fluid, or other vehicle fluids leak onto the pavement you have to clean them up as soon as possible. Since asphalt companies don’t recommend sealing your asphalt immediately, automotive fluids will have nothing to slow them down. Even after a seal coating is applied, these types of fluids will eventually eat through the sealant to reach the underlying pavement, so don’t forget about removing them throughout the life of the pavement.

Here’s how to clean up those spills:

  • Absorb as much of the spilled fluid as possible by using sawdust and no clump cat litter. They work very well when left overnight.
  • Remove as much of the oily cat litter or sawdust as possible and dispose of it responsibly
  • Hose any remaining debris off the stain area. Avoid pressure washing as you are just trying to get rid of loose material.
  • Use a commercial degreaser, a tri-sodium phosphate paste, or simple dish soap and water and scrub it into the affected area. Avoid using solvent based chemicals in the cleanup process as they can potentially do more damage to your asphalt than the original spill. Be sure to protect your eyes and skin during this process
  • Rinse off the cleaned area thoroughly and allow to dry.

Give your pavement time to fully dry.

This is usually about 24 hours after pouring, but your pavement won’t reach its maximum strength and resistance to damage until it is fully cured, in about a year. Although most paving contractors recommend that you stay off the pavement for anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, the time can be affected by the weather, the type of asphalt used, and other factors. Your paving contractor will know all the pertinent factors, so follow their directions on how long to let it dry.

For the first year after pouring the asphalt follow these rules:

  • Monitor and restrict the weight of vehicles driving on it
  • Be aware of the time that vehicles are parked in one space
  • Encourage drivers to slow down
  • Enforce weight limits and traffic volume

Paving contractors design each pavement to meet the specifications given for the expected number and weights of the vehicles that will have access to the pavement. Subjecting your pavement to excess load can play havoc with its integrity at any time, but it is especially risky while your new pavement is at its most fragile.

Prevent static loads

Do your best to prevent static loads. Move pallets around every two or three days, refrain from parking in exactly the same spot, and devise a method for keeping the tongues on parked trailers from digging into your pavement.

Encourage drivers to slow down

Speed kills asphalt, especially fresh laid asphalt. Take your time entering you newly paved areas to avoid scuffing or scarring the asphalt. If you move at a slower pace, you’ll prevent any damage from occurring. Encourage other drivers using your lot to keep it slow and sensible. Post and enforce speed limits. If necessary, install speed bumps for passive encouragement and enforcement.

Remove any snow or ice

Asphalt doesn’t do well with water during its curing phase due to its porous surface.  If water enters the pores in your asphalt and freezes, you will have a problem on your hands. Water expands as it freezes, which means pressure will build up below the surface of your asphalt paving. Over time, this can cause potholes and cracks. It’s important that you help prevent water from freezing in your asphalt by using some form of ice melting product on your pavement.

Seal the surface regularly Once your asphalt is fully cured (but not before!), apply a good quality sealcoat to the surface. Sealcoating stops moisture from getting into the asphalt, prevents fading and extends its functional life. After the initial sealcoating you should have an asphalt professional reapply every 2-5 years. Those are the do’s. Now let’s talk about what NOT to do….

Don’t seal it too soon

Don’t seal it too quickly. Asphalt needs a few months of aging to cure prior to sealcoating. The curing process varies and could range anywhere from three months to a year or longer.  Again, your contractor can best advise you as to the optimum time to sealcoat your pavement. Typically, you don’t have to wait to have your parking lot striping or road markings completed, but it’s best again, to check with your contractor for specific instructions for your particular pavement.

Don’t let weeds and plants creep up

Keep an eye along the edges of your asphalt paving to make sure that no weeds are growing. The roots of weeds can create bumps and cracks in your pavement that will eventually form into larger cracks and holes. Pull up existing weed by the root and apply weed killer along the edges during the growing season to avoid issues in the future.

Don’t Ignore small cracks

You shouldn’t ignore small cracks in the asphalt. Keep an eye on your asphalt for new cracks or small holes. Cracks should be sealed with an asphalt crack sealant and holes should be patched as soon a s possible to prevent them from growing. Flaws in your asphalt will not go away if you decide to simply ignore them. If left unaddressed, they will continue to grow beyond the point where you can fix them yourself, so spot check your parking lot at least once a month to make sure your asphalt is in good condition.

Don’t Drive on the surface for the first 24 hours

Don’t drive on your fresh asphalt for a least 24 hours. If you want to keep your asphalt looking good and staying stable, avoid driving on it for at least the first twenty four hours after it is laid. If you drive on freshly laid asphalt too soon you could cause ruts and dips to appear. Ruts and dips will hold water and debris which will cause additional damage to your asphalt.

Your asphalt is still quite soft during the first 24 hours of it being laid, so it’s susceptible to the impact of vehicles such as cars, trucks, or motorcycles. It’s usually safe to drive on asphalt after the first 24 hours have passed, but if you want to be extra careful, it is suggested that you wait for an additional 24 hours, or even 72 hours if possible. This is true especially during the warm months of summer when it’ll take longer for your asphalt to dry.

Your new surface will undoubtedly provide unmatched functionality for your visitors, while simultaneously imparting a clean and crisp appearance to your surroundings. By following these guidelines, you can preserve your new asphalt and prevent any undue damage. If you don’t take the proper steps to protect your new asphalt lot, you may find yourself having to pay expensive repair and maintenance costs down the road. Keeping all of this in mind, the team at Cactus Asphalt is always standing by to provide helpful tips and tricks. Performing these tasks will help you to keep your asphalt surface in excellent condition for many years to come.

Cactus Asphalt is a Phoenix, AZ-based asphalt paving company well-known for its ability to quickly and efficiently perform both residential and commercial services. For over 39 years, we have provided paving for new construction, seal coating, crack sealing, and more, making us Arizona’s number one name in asphalt paving. We have the experience and resources to ensure that you will make an impression on all who visit your property. We promise to keep our customers happy, which is one reason they keep coming back for additional services. For additional information about our company or the services we offer, visit our website, or contact us at 923-207-8391.