Understanding the Lifecycle of Asphalt Pavement

Asphalt is a durable and reliable pavement material that can last over time. With proper care, it can stay reliable for several decades. But proper care is the key: without reliable maintenance, asphalt pavement can fail relatively quickly, particularly in cold climate regions.

Below are some details to know about the life cycle of asphalt, as well as a guide to proper maintenance. While some asphalt work can be practiced by non-professionals, for major jobs, it is ideal to call an experienced contractor.

How Long Does Asphalt Last?

It is hard to provide a round number to this question, because many factors go into determining the longevity of asphalt. The quality of its construction, the variability of traffic, the weather, the surrounding vegetation, and other factors all intersect to determine the versatility of asphalt pavement.

This said, asphalt that is well-constructed can frequently last two decades or more. With reliable maintenance and a little luck, it can often last even longer.

What Problems Can Arise With Asphalt Construction?

While a highly durable material, asphalt is not impermeable to wear and tear. Problems asphalt pavings may face include the following:

  • Freezing and thawing can crack asphalt or create significant potholes, particularly if water pools on the asphalt
  • Progressive raveling can lead to disintegration of asphalt, which can be compounded by inclement weather
  • Alligator cracking can occur and often be compounded by repeated, heavy weight on the asphalt
  • Edge cracking is a frequent problem with asphalt, often due to run-off, poor construction, plant or tree roots, or other factors


While not a comprehensive list of problems that may develop, this helps to shed some light on the hazards that may be faced by asphalt pavement.

What Constitutes Responsible Asphalt Maintenance?

Regular maintenance can go a long way towards mitigating the problems above, and others. It goes without saying that the first step is quality construction. An experienced asphalt paver can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth finish, and that your asphalt pavement will last.

Subsequent maintenance may include the following:

  • Sealcoating — sealcoating involves applying a thin layer over the surface of asphalt to protect it against the elements. It also helps ice and snow melt faster in colder weather. Sealcoating can be periodically done to extend asphalt’s lifespan.
  • Crack and pothole repair — cracks and potholes in asphalt should be fixed as soon as they appear, to prevent worsening. For minor jobs, this can often be done by individual homeowners with asphalt cement. (For serious jobs, it is best to call a professional).
  • Debris removal — asphalt should be periodically swept, to remove leaves and other debris, and sprayed down up to twice a year to clear the pavement of dirt and other debris.

Connect With Other Paving Specialists

The Pavement Network is a group of paving and asphalt contractors across the country. The Pavement Network seeks to connect contractors in different regions to collaboratively boost each other’s profiles, build purchasing power, and broadly work together within the industry. Contact The Pavement Network today for more information or to join the network.