The Difference Between Summer Asphalt and Winter Asphalt

There are certain summer rules: don’t wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, poolside margaritas are always a good idea and do your best to pave with asphalt before the cold weather sets in. To most people, asphalt is asphalt—as long as it’s a smooth surface that you can walk, play or drive upon, what does it matter what the season is? However, paving in the summer can make a big difference, whether you’re creating a parking lot, driveway or road in Prince William County, VA.

Paving in the summertime

Summer is ideal for paving large areas, like roads, parking lots, driveways and sport courts. “Summer asphalt” is made differently than “winter asphalt,” and is generally available from April through December. It’s mixed at high temperatures—generally around 275 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit—and needs to be applied fast, before it cools down.

This type of asphalt can only be applied to warm, dry surfaces, like you’d expect to enjoy in the hotter months. If the asphalt cools too quickly, you may be able to reheat it and reapply. Generally, you want to pave with hot asphalt when the ambient temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter.

Another important consideration is whether it’s windy or raining. High winds will cool the asphalt too quickly, which impedes the setting and curing process. Precipitation also prevents hot asphalt from setting properly, so pick a hot, dry stretch of weather before you start paving large areas.

Of course, it’s also possible for the weather to be too hot for paving. Asphalt tends to retain heat and can be 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature. That makes it more difficult to dry and cure.

Paving in the winter

Generally, you should avoid doing major paving projects in the winter—the cold temperatures and wet weather make it harder for the asphalt to cure properly. However, asphalt pavers often recommend patching your pavement in the winter, especially if it has cracks and potholes developing. Winter asphalt is mixed in smaller batches and takes much longer to dry and cure.

Winter asphalt paving is typically available from January through March. Since the asphalt is heated in smaller batches, it doesn’t need to maintain that same high, consistent temperature needed in the summer. It can also be mixed and stored, then reheated later.

If you have smaller projects on your hands or need to patch your pavement, winter is a good time to get the job done. Of course, you can also patch your asphalt in the summer. If you’re not sure whether your project is too big for the wintertime, talk to your favorite asphalt service provider. They can tell you whether you should wait until the spring and summer for driveway or parking lot paving, or go ahead and complete your project now.

When you need asphalt services in Prince William County, VA, call Paveco Inc. Our family-owned and operated business can help you get the flawless pavement you need.