If you want to spruce up your exterior presence, a new parking lot can transform your business and make a great first impression. There’s something inviting about a new blacktop with fresh paint. If you’re considering a new asphalt parking lot, here’s what to know about using it and how long it will take to dry and to cure.
How Long Will Asphalt Take to Dry?
Asphalt is a popular material for parking lots because of its durability and affordability. It’s made up of bitumen, aggregate, and sand.
When you install an asphalt parking lot, it needs time to dry before it can be used. In general, it can take about 48 to 72 hours for the asphalt to dry to be safe for foot or vehicle traffic. There are many factors that can impact the drying time. At McConnell & Associates we work with you to plan your installation and avoid disrupting your business any more than we have to.
How Does Weather Impact Drying Time?
Asphalt can take longer to dry under certain weather conditions. You may want to allow up to a week before letting customers park or walk in the parking lot.
Humidity – higher moisture levels in the air makes the air less absorbent, in turn making the asphalt take longer to dry. If the days are humid, you can plan for more drying time.
Temperature – warmer temperatures reduce drying time, while cooler temperatures extend drying time. Extremely high temperatures can be problematic because the evaporation process occurs too quickly.
Sunlight – sunlight increases evaporation, which increases the drying time. If the days are gray with limited sunlight, the drying time will be slower.
Wind – a small breeze is ideal to help speed up the drying time. When the air is still, the moisture remains on the surface of the asphalt, so it can’t evaporate.
How Long Does Asphalt Need to Cure?
Cured asphalt is different from dry asphalt. Dried asphalt means the asphalt is hard enough to use. Cured asphalt means that it has completely hardened. It refers to the chemical process that takes place as the molecules fuse together to create the final product. It can take up to 12 months for the asphalt to cure.
When asphalt is laid, it has an excess of oil. Over time, the oils oxidize, which makes the asphalt turn gray. Cured asphalt will last a long time when it’s taken care of.
Maintaining Your Parking Lot as It Cures
Even though the asphalt is dry and can be used, you still need to be cautious as it cures. Hazardous spills can damage the asphalt, as will an extremely heavy traffic load or very heavy trucks. You should avoid placing sharp or heavy objects on the asphalt until it’s completely cured. Don’t let customers or employees drive too close to the edge of the asphalt, where it can break down quicker.
Asphalt is naturally porous, but standing water can be damaging to it. Make sure your parking lot drains well to avoid problems while the asphalt is curing.
How Does Sealing the Asphalt Keep It Protected?
A sealcoat for asphalt is a protective layer applied to the surface to protect against UV rays, snow, fluids from vehicles, and rain. A sealcoat can also help prevent cracks from forming by reducing the amount of oil that evaporates. As asphalt ages, it gets more brittle, making it more susceptible to damage. Sealcoating improves the surface to protect it longer. It can also make the snow and ice melt faster on the surface to protect against winter damage.
When Should You Seal Your New Asphalt Parking Lot?
An asphalt sealer extends the life of your parking lot. Fresh asphalt needs time to cure before a sealer can be applied. You may be able to apply a sealer as early as 30 days after laying the asphalt, but it could take longer, depending on the condition of the asphalt. The asphalt needs to have oxidized some before the sealcoat can be applied.
On the other hand, waiting too long to apply the sealcoat can cause premature cracking of the asphalt. Our expert installers can help you determine when the asphalt is ready for a sealant. After you seal your new parking lot, it should be done again every three to five years, depending on the condition of your asphalt. Repairs should be made before the sealcoat is added.
When Is the Best Time to Install Asphalt Pavement?
Most parking lots in the Midwest are installed in late spring through early fall when the temperatures are most pleasant. We have to plan for rain in the forecast, as well as nice weather, so it can be tricky to schedule too far out without adding in some flexibility. There are new technologies in asphalt every year, which give us more options.
How Do You Know When You Need a New Parking Lot Instead of Repaving the Current One?
A new parking lot is an investment, but all businesses have to watch their operating costs. Deciding whether to make repairs or start over can be difficult, but there are some indications that can help you decide.
If you’ve already made patches and touch-ups to keep your parking lot looking good, it might be a good idea to look at the long-term costs of repairs over replacement. If your lot is getting more traffic, you may be better off installing a new lot that can handle heavier trucks and more vehicles. Think about the curb appeal as well. Your parking lot makes a first impression. If it’s run-down and worn, it’s not only unsafe, but it may also turn your customers away.
McConnell & Associates is one of the most experienced asphalt contractors in the Midwest. We understand the climate, soil, and community to help you get the best parking lot for your business. Contact us to get more information about our asphalt services.