We love winters; it is the season when we get to sing Christmas songs and play with ice. But when it comes to pavements and driveways, this is a whole new story. Ice or frozen water can expand cracks and crumbling, leading a compromised surface to break apart and cause potholes to form.
Many homeowners struggle with the question ‘paving or no paving’ in winter. Actually, you can get your pavements done in any season; you just need the right weather conditions to work. The challenge in cold weather is to get proper compaction to achieve a smooth mat because cold weather cools down the mat before the contractor can complete compaction.
So, what is the best cold weather paving, and how can you achieve successful compaction? Let’s find out:
Best Cold Weather Pavements
Asphalt and concrete are the two most widely used and preferred materials for pavement. From driveways to sidewalks, people usually choose one of these two depending on different factors such as their budget and unique project needs. However, one other factor can significantly influence the decision, especially in the colder areas, and it is cold weather because cold affects both materials differently.
So, which is the best cold weather pavement? Let’s start our concrete vs asphalt guide:
Its winter or summer, asphalt is the most preferred by contractors and homeowners, and you will see it installed in areas with cold climates more than concrete, making it a more suitable choice in cold weather.
Asphalt expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, but it is highly unlikely to break. Its ability to handle extreme temperatures without breaking makes it a fantastic choice to use in cold weather and areas with cold climates. Also, it melts snow faster than concrete, thanks to its dark colour. Another significant reason to use asphalt for paving is that it is easier to fix its cracks and pockmarks.
Finally, asphalt is an affordable choice. It is usually half the price of concrete. Now, it may not be as long-lasting as concrete, but a 15 to 30-year lifespan coupled with highly affordable repairs and replacement costs make asphalt paving popular in all seasons.
Now, if we talk about the cons of cold weather asphalt paving, asphalt paving requires a fresh annual seal coat due to the severe wind and winter ice. Also, you can only fix small asphalt issues with the cold mix as asphalt paving needs warm temperatures for major repairs and proper patching or installation.
Concrete is, without a doubt, one of the strongest building materials in the world. Let’s see how it performs in cold weather.
One of the biggest advantages of concrete pavement is the little maintenance it requires, irrespective of the climate. Though cold weather elements like ice affect concrete, it does not generate any maintenance needs like the seal coating that asphalt needs. Also, concrete is preferred for its longevity and strength. Compared to the 15-30 years of asphalt lifespan, properly formulated, poured and installed concrete pavements can last about 50 years easily.
Coming to its cons, ice and water can cause your pavement to heave upward by penetrating penetrate pockets underneath the concrete and fixing heaving is a costly affair. Not to forget, the material is more easily prone to damage, cracking and getting stained by usual winter elements like salt. Snow-melt salt can weaken concrete by eating into it, reducing its durability and life. Also, it is expensive to install and repair, unlike asphalt.
Cold Weather Paving Basics to Follow
As you can guess, summer pavement techniques will not work because mat compaction happens from the bottom up and not the top-down, as many think.
Usually, thinner lifts like 1.5 are preferred by contractors as compaction may be better accomplished with thinner lifts. However, placing a thin lift of asphalt on cold or cool surfaces will not work as the temperature will be drawn out pretty quickly during the placement. But raising the lift thickness from 1.5” to 3” will allow the mat to cool slower because it will not draw out as much heat into the subsurface area. This will allow the asphalt invective action to hold heat longer, allowing the contractor to attain the required compaction.
Also, you need sufficient time to complete compacting the Hot Mix Asphalt while it’s still in the compaction temperature range, which is 275 to 175 degrees F.