Asphalt Life Expectancy: Are you Prepared for the Parking lot Tsunami?
The asphalt life expectancy of a parking lot is comparable to a tsunami. A tsunami is a natural disaster that can cause immeasurable damage, but can go virtually unnoticed until it is too late. An asphalt parking lot, more often than not, is ignored until there are significant issues that need to be addressed. This is true especially for the first 15 years of a parking lot. A 40% drop in quality is noticeable after 15 years, while the remaining 60% of asphalt life is lost the following five years (see diagram).
How long is the asphalt life expectancy of a parking lot?
This depends on many items (usage, soil conditions, weather, etc.), but usually is as follows:
- Parking Lot Reconstruction- Completely new base course and asphalt (15-20 years, 20+ years with routine maintenance)
- Asphalt Pulverization (15-20 years)
- Asphalt Overlay (7-12 years)
*Even with a properly constructed asphalt section, maintenance is required. Crack sealing is recommended annually and seal coating bi-annually to protect the sub base from water infiltration and the surface from raveling.
When should a budget for asphalt reconstruction be set aside?
The asphalt life expectancy of a parking lot is a long time, but many forego setting aside a budget to properly manage and/or reconstruct their parking lot. The smartest approach is to start storing funds as soon as possible after a substantial asphalt project is completed.
Asphalt Life Expectancy Summary:
Tsunamis start deep in the middle of the ocean where their waves are long and resemble a rising tide, rather than a large breaking wave. Ships have been known to ride over these waves without noticing their sheer power. The same goes for an asphalt parking lot. While things may look satisfactory on the surface, major construction is imminent. A reputable contractor should always explain the advantages and disadvantages to any option proposed. Likewise, knowing how long you have in your asphalt’s life cycle can be helpful when organizing a budget.