Three Ways Weather Can Damage Asphalt Parking Lot Surfaces (Both Directly And Indirectly)

When selecting a surface for your parking lot, your basic options are going to be asphalt paving and simple concrete. Asphalt is a very common choice, and there are a number of advantages to it, but it's not completely invulnerable. Here are three ways that weather and the changing seasons can damage asphalt pavement both directly and indirectly.

1. Sun rays

Sunlight contains UV rays, which as you probably know are great at causing long-term deterioration to basically anything they touch that's not a plant. In this case, the UV rays cause damage by degrading the sticky tar-like binder that holds asphalt together and making the surface more brittle, so that it's more susceptible to crumbling and cracks and other types of damage (such as stress from heavy loads). And after enough deterioration of the sticky binder has occurred, the surface may begin crumbling spontaneously because the binder is all that stands between the surface and spontaneous crumbling (after all, the surface is made of binder plus aggregate, which is a fancy name for tiny chips of gravel and other materials).

2. Freeze-thaw cycle

The freeze-thaw cycle occurs mainly during the winter (in most parts of the country). It's the name for the phenomenon created by the fact that water expands as it freezes. Because it does this, any water that's sitting in tiny cracks or grooves in the pavement can produce a lot of outward force as it freezes, causing the crack to expand. Then when the water becomes liquid again, it can sink further into the crack and repeat the whole thing again the next time it freezes. This type of damage generally occurs slowly over the course of a lot of cold nights.

3. Road salt

Road salt is more a result of weather than an aspect of weather itself. But in cold weather, people tend to put down salt in order to make roads less dangerous for driving. It's great for this purpose, but it does change the whole freeze-thaw dynamic on the road by making the water freeze at a lower temperature. This can mean that in extremely cold places, road salt allows for more freeze-thaw cycles than would otherwise be possible (because the whole road would just be frozen solid the whole time otherwise). So this is more of an indirect type of damage, but it can have very real results in terms of increasing the amount of damage to a road over the entire winter.