That’s a great question and the answer is: it depends.
What is behind this trend? People believe that it is cheaper to resurface the asphalt than it is to replace it. While that may be true, it is not always a possible option.
Resurfacing is the process of overlaying the existing asphalt with another layer (or “lift”) of asphalt. It can be done to residential driveways (driveway resurfacing,) but is more typically used in the commercial setting for parking lots and roadways.
What are the three main things that Alpine Asphalt estimators look for before recommending that we overlay (or resurface) your driveway or parking lot?
- The condition of your existing asphalt — Is it a relatively solid surface with limited cracking, break ups or sunken areas?
- The grade and drainage of your current driveway or parking lot — If it is too flat or already drains improperly, adding another lift of asphalt on top of your current asphalt may only make matters worse.
- The other surfaces that are adjacent to your asphalt — The level and placement of surrounding sidewalks, garage aprons, patios, street curbs or concrete approaches can also dictate whether or not your area is a candidate for overlaying.
If your driveway or parking lot passes this initial inspection, resurfacing may be the right solution for your asphalt area. If not, replacing the asphalt surface, and possibly the rock base beneath, would be recommended.
Here are some other common questions that we hear about resurfacing:
Isn’t resurfacing the technique that will make my driveway look black and new again?
That process is called sealcoating. It’s a protective, liquid coating that is applied to the asphalt to protect it from the elements to prolong its life. Resurfacing is adding another layer of asphalt on top of the existing surface.
Can my driveway be milled and then resurfaced?
Sometimes. But another question that needs to be asked is: how old is your driveway? As little as five years ago, the standard specifications for a driveway was to install a 3” asphalt mat, which when rolled and compacted, resulting in 2 1/2” of asphalt thickness. So even if your existing asphalt is in relatively solid shape, milling 2” off of the surface would leave only 1/2” of asphalt is left. The better solution is to remove the asphalt layer down to the rock base, re-compact and regrade it as needed and install a new 3” compacted mat of asphalt.
Does my entire parking lot need to be milled before it’s resurfaced?
No. Provided your lot drains properly and the existing asphalt is in relatively good shape, it can probably be overlayed. We frequently mill the edges of the existing asphalt to ensure that the new asphalt layer will be flush with surrounding surfaces.
Can my concrete driveway be resurfaced with asphalt?
This is not recommended for concrete driveways. With time, the new asphalt layer will mirror the surface beneath it. The seams (expansion joints) between the concrete slabs will cause the asphalt to crack in many of the same places.
Is there a better time of year to overlay my driveway or parking lot?
Yes, it is better to have your asphalt resurfaced when the temperatures are warmer. Unlike driveway and parking lot replacements or installations, the thickness of the asphalt mat is only 2” or less. This makes the hot mix asphalt more susceptible to cooling below the ideal installation temperature. It also makes proper rolling and compaction more difficult. We don’t recommend resurfacing after mid-September.
A Recap on Resurfacing.
On the surface, resurfacing your driveway or parking lot sounds like it would be an obvious, economical choice. But when you dig a little deeper into driveway resurfacing, you may find that replacing the asphalt may be the better way to go.
At Alpine Asphalt, we’re here to help you find the answer about driveway resurfacing or other services that is right for you.