What Factors Play a Role in Pavement Compaction in the Winter

November, 24, 2020 By CASSIDY PAVING 3 min read
Although the best time to pave in Massachusetts is during the warmer months of the year, Cassidy Paving understands that sometimes paving must be done in colder temperatures. Work cannot stop when it is cold, but we do recommend holding off until spring on most projects because of the increased challenge. There are many things that make successful asphalt paving harder to achieve in the winter. Here are the reasons why compaction becomes more complicated in the winter.

How Winter Weather Compacts Pavement

Environmental Components

According to Asphalt Magazine, there are five environmental factors that make paving in the winter more difficult: air temperature, surface temperature, wind conditions, solar radiation, and layer thickness. When laying asphalt, the colder the ground the more quickly the hot mix will cool. When the ground is below freezing, asphalt has a harder time being placed. The cold ground causes the asphalt to lose heat rapidly, which makes it almost impossible to be sufficiently compacted. Of all of the factors that complicate asphalt paving in the winter, the ground temperature is the biggest issue. Asphalt Magazine explains this in technical terms: “the laydown temperature of an asphalt mixture has a major role in calculating the time available for compaction. However, most specifications will have an upper-temperature limit”. As the contractor, we have to be acutely aware of the temperature of our mixture and the temperature of the ground. Comparing these two will give us the calculated time of how long we have to work with the mixture before it’s too cooled to function properly.

Aggregate, Binder, and Mixture Properties

Not all mixtures of asphalt pavement will work the same for compaction in the winter. The binder’s viscosity and modifications to that will be different according to the ground temperature. As Dave Johnson from the Asphalt Institute explains, “it is important to recognize that for any given asphalt grade, its viscosity will change as the mixture cools. It will become more viscous and stiffer. As such, a mix will become increasingly less compatible as it cools”. There will be slight variations in how/when the aggregate, binder, and mixture is applied depending on the exact ground temperature.

Best Practices for Compaction

If holding out for spring is just not feasible due to massive deterioration in your asphalt paving, you shouldn’t worry. At Cassidy Paving, we follow strict best practices for fixing whatever needs to be fixed during the wintertime. The best practices that we follow include: delivering the mixture at the highest allowable temperature, consistent paver speed, increased mat thickness, quicker and consistently moving application processes, and warm mix additives.

Winter Asphalt Repairs

At Cassidy Paving, we understand that during the winter months you don’t want to have the stress of asphalt failure. Just know that if you find yourself in need of expert help, our team is always just a call away. Give Cassidy Paving a call today at 866-978-9788 to get help with your parking lot, driveway, or commercial needs. The sooner you call, the better, especially when we are so dependent on ground temperatures for success.
Filed Under: Asphalt

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Based in Haverhill, MA, Cassidy Paving is a commercial paving company serving southern NH and Massachusetts.

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Mission Statement: Delivering commercial and industrial paving services with courteous service, clear communication, and consistent results.

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