Why Are Winters Bad For Asphalt Surfaces?

Why Are Winters Bad For Asphalt Surfaces?

Picketts Paving LLC
December 19, 2022 at 3:42 PM

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Winters can be tough on asphalt surfaces.
  2. The cold weather can cause cracks on the surface, leading to further damage if left untreated.
  3. Snow and ice can also wreak havoc on asphalt surfaces, so protecting them during the winter is essential.
  4. You can help protect your asphalt surface by regularly cleaning it and removing any snow or ice accumulating on it.
  5. Having your asphalt surface inspected and maintained regularly by a professional is also a good idea.

Asphalt is a popular surface for driveways, roads, and parking lots because it is durable and relatively inexpensive. 94% of roads are asphalt paved in the US. Although asphalt is durable, winters can take a toll on it.

Colder weather can cause several problems that can lead to costly repairs. Do you own a driveway or parking lot and want the asphalt in a tiptop shape? Then understand the pitfalls of winter weather and how to prevent them.

Pickett’s Paving LLC outlines the most common issues caused by winter weather and explains how you can protect your asphalt from damage. Read on to learn more about asphalt pavements.

Why Winter and Asphalt Don’t Mix?

Asphalt is a petroleum-based substance. It comprises about 95% stone, sand, gravel, and 5% asphalt cement. This black or dark brown cement is a semi-solid form of petroleum that acts as a binding agent.

When the temperature drops in winter, the asphalt begins to harden. This process is called stiffening. As the asphalt stiffens, it becomes more brittle, and cracks start to form on the surface.

With frequent snowfall during winter, melted water can seep into the cracks and reach the subgrade. The subgrade is the foundation of your pavement and consists of compacted soil. When water saturates the subgrade, it starts to expand and push against the asphalt pavement from below. It results in the formation of potholes.

These potholes become a safety hazard for pedestrians and drivers, causing them to trip and fall. Annually, US drivers suffer from $3 billion in damage due to potholes alone.

Common Asphalt Pavement Issues Caused by Winter

Winters can cause several issues for asphalt pavements. Here are some of the problems you should worry about:

1. Potholes

As mentioned earlier, potholes directly result from water seeping into the cracks on the surface and reaching the subgrade. The subgrade then expands, causing the surface to crack and form potholes.

2. Cracks

Cracks are among the most common problems asphalt pavements face during winter. Cracks can be caused due to a variety of reasons, including freezing and thawing cycles, heavy traffic, and poor drainage. If not repaired, they can lead to further damage, such as potholes and raveling.

3. Raveling

Raveling is when the aggregate starts to come off the asphalt surface. It usually happens when cracks on the surface and water seep in, causing the aggregate to loosen. Raveling can also be caused by heavy traffic and poor drainage.

4 .Fatigue

Fatigue is another common problem faced by asphalt pavements during winter. It occurs when the pavement is subjected to repeated loading, such as from traffic, and results in cracks forming on the surface. These cracks can widen due to the changing temperature resulting in further issues in your asphalt driveway or parking lot.

If not repaired in time, it can lead to further damage, such as potholes and raveling.

5. Rutting

Rutting is a type of deformation when tire tracks start to sink into the pavement. A few different things cause it, but the most common is when the pavement is too soft. It can happen when there’s too much traffic or vehicles overload.

Rutting can also be caused by improper drainage, which allows water to pool on the surface and soften the asphalt. It is essential to ensure your driveway or parking lot has proper drainage.

6. Slippery Surface

Have you ever heard the term “black ice”? It’s a type of ice that forms when there’s water on the pavement and the temperature drops below freezing. The water freezes and creates a thin layer of ice that can be very difficult to see.

This ice can make the surface of your asphalt driveway extremely slippery and dangerous. Slippery surfaces can cause vehicles to lose their traction and could lead to accidents.

How to Keep Your Asphalt Driveway or Parking Lot Protected during Winter?

1. Inspect Your Asphalt Surface

First, look at your asphalt surface and ensure there are no cracks or holes. If there are, then you’ll want to get them repaired.

2. Clear Debris from Your Asphalt Surface

It’s also essential to clear any debris, such as leaves or sticks, from your asphalt surface. Debris can clog up drains and cause water to pool on the surface, leading to ice formation.

3. Apply a Seal Coat

If your asphalt surface is in good condition, you may consider applying a seal coat. A seal coat will protect against the elements and help keep your asphalt surface looking new.

4. Use De-Icing Products Sparingly

If you need to use de-icing products on your asphalt surface, use them sparingly. Overuse of de-icing products can damage the asphalt and lead to a host of problems, including potholes.

5. Clear Snow and Ice Immediately

Whenever possible, it’s best to clear snow and ice from your asphalt surface as soon as possible. It will help to minimize the damage that can be caused by the elements and will also help to keep your surface looking its best.

6. Get Cracks Sealed

Another best way to protect your asphalt surface during winter is to get any cracks sealed. Cracks in the surface can let water seep in & cause damage, so getting them sealed as soon as possible is essential.

7. Have Your Asphalt Maintained By a Professional

Finally, having your asphalt surface inspected and maintained regularly by a professional is always a good idea. It will help to identify any potential issues before they become widespread. It will allow you to take proactive steps to prevent damage formation.

Also Read: 5 Causes Of Asphalt Parking Lot Breakdowns


Winter can be hard on your asphalt surface, but by taking some simple precautions, you can help to keep it in good condition. Consult with a professional if you have any concerns about your asphalt surface.

Keep Your Asphalt Protected During Winter in Sarasota, FL

Now that winter is upon us; it’s essential to take some time to think about how the season will affect your asphalt surface. The best way is to contact Pickett’s Paving LLC, serving Sarasota, FL. We can help you identify potential problems related to asphalt in your driveway or parking lot and fix them before they become major.

Our experts are trained in offering paving solutions, including asphalt paving, seal coating, and crack filling. Contact us today to get a free quote.