Like any other season, winter is technically three months long. In regions like New England, however, winter weather tends to extend far beyond these parameters. While winter’s most extreme conditions take place between December and February, snow can begin to fall as early as October, and low temperatures can linger throughout April (that’s about a half-year of frigid conditions). These prolonged cold conditions don’t just have a negative impact on your physical and mental well-being, either -- they can also take a toll on your property. As we’ve gone over in previous articles, asphalt and winter don’t exactly get along. The question remains, then: if you regularly endure long, harsh winters, is asphalt even worth the hassle of installing, repairing, and maintaining it? Let’s discuss.
What to Know About Asphalt in Long Winters
Balancing Your Budget
When determining whether asphalt is a worthy investment, you must keep short- and long-term costs in mind. One of the key advantages of asphalt is that it’s relatively cheap to install. The downside, however, is that asphalt does require regular maintenance to remain durable and beautiful. Over time, this asphalt maintenance can add up, even though this cost is distributed over an extended period. Of course, things become even more expensive if you neglect regular maintenance and allow small concerns to explode into major issues. Getting stuck in a cycle of crack and pothole repair projects can cost you significantly, so staying on top of maintenance is crucial year-round.
Paving on Time
If you take proper care of your asphalt, you shouldn’t need to have it repaved for quite some time. That said, harsh winters can increase the frequency in which you must invest in driveway repaving. Unfortunately, hot-mix paving projects can only take place when ground temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which means such projects are off-limits during the winter. And since New England winters are so lengthy, you often have to wait until April or May to get this done -- by October, time is already running out. So, if you don’t get the timing right, you may be left with numerous asphalt issues throughout half the year without a lasting remedy. Cold patching helps, but this only offers a temporary solution.
Snow and Ice Considerations
As if the freezing temperatures weren’t hard enough on your asphalt surfaces, snow and ice don’t do them any favors, either. These winter features pose a threat to other outdoor surfaces as well, such as wood, concrete, and metal. The good news is that asphalt’s dark color inherently melts snow and ice at a faster rate than most other materials. Unfortunately, the moisture from snow and ice can seep into pores, cracks, and other openings before re-freezing and expanding within the material. Before long, this cyclical process can wreck your driveway or parking lot from the inside out. Therefore, property owners must make a concerted effort to keep snow and ice off their asphalt surfaces all season long. Hiring snow clearing services is another expense, but the cost of keeping snow at bay is far less than the cost of allowing snow and ice to take their toll on your asphalt.
Asphalt Alternatives Have Their Setbacks, Too
Before you decide whether or not asphalt is worth the effort in your environment, you have to weigh it against its alternatives, namely concrete. Generally speaking, concrete lasts longer than asphalt and requires less maintenance overall. However, concrete is also more costly to install and repair. Plus, concrete is also prone to cracking and heaving thanks to winter conditions. If you’d rather not worry about dishing out for concrete pavement repair in the future, then asphalt might be the better option.
So, is asphalt worth it if you regularly deal with long winters? The answer will vary from person to person depending on budgets, time constraints, and more. If you’re not sure where you land on this issue, it’s worth consulting asphalt paving contractors to not only receive quotes but also get a better understanding of what you’ll need to worry about during winter. At Cassidy Paving, our contractors are well-versed in New England winters, and we know how to prepare asphalt surfaces for all environmental hazards.
Call us today at 866-978-9788 for a free estimate on your next asphalt project.