If your property needs new pavement, you might be wondering, is it possible to lay asphalt in the rain? This is a vital consideration, as weather conditions and especially standing water can affect asphalt’s overall quality. As you want that new pavement to last as long as possible, it’s vital that you consider how weather impacts asphalt construction and other such factors during repairs or new asphalt installation!
Never schedule asphalt installation while it’s raining, as rainwater dilutes binders in asphalt and leads to premature breakdown. It’s also necessary to delay asphalt repairs and installation if the ground is still wet from a recent rainfall.
If your asphalt contractor needs to delay paving due to rainy weather, don’t assume they’re being unprofessional; most asphalt installation companies would like to work in any weather, as the more jobs they complete, the more they’re paid! To better understand how rain impacts asphalt, keep in mind that asphalt mixtures are petroleum-based, and petroleum or oil doesn’t mix well with water. Installing asphalt during rainy conditions leads to premature breakdown, potholes, spalling, and other such damage.
While your paving contractor is the best source of information on proper asphalt installation or repairs, you might note some added information on why you should avoid laying asphalt in the rain. It’s also helpful to consider some important tips for proper asphalt installation and upkeep, as well as repairing your new asphalt and keeping it in good condition over the years.
Does Rain Ruin Asphalt?
Since asphalt is oil-based and oil and water don’t mix, you should avoid installing new asphalt or repairing current asphalt on rainy days, as said, and ensure the ground is dry after it rains as well. Once rain gets into a new asphalt mixture, the oil in that mixture repels the water.
This might sound like a good thing but note that water is typically heavier than the oil used in asphalt, so that it rises to the surface of the water as the two substances separate. When water gets mixed in with asphalt and its oil binders rise to the surface of the mixture, this breaks down asphalt binders. As those binders rise and break down, the materials that makeup asphalt separate so that cracks, potholes, and spalling soon appear.
A sealant is also typically applied over fresh asphalt, to protect it from weather and harsh sunlight as it sets and cures. Rainwater, especially heavy rains, wash off that sealant so that new asphalt isn’t as protected from damage, also increasing the risk of premature breakdown.
Water from the wet ground has the same effect; as that water comes into contact with fresh asphalt or patching materials, the oils in that material repel or push away from the water. As with rainwater, that groundwater causes the oil to rise to the surface of asphalt, breaking it down and leading to premature damage.
While a very light sprinkle or morning dew might not harm new asphalt or interfere with needed repairs, it’s best to wait until outside weather and ground conditions are dry before scheduling this work. The drier the weather and soil, the less risk of damage to your new asphalt and those much-needed repairs!
How Long Will Asphalt Take to Dry in the Rain?
Asphalt doesn’t cure and set completely for a good six months to a full year after installation, but does cure enough within a few days to become somewhat watertight. During that time, it should be protected from water as much as possible! The longer asphalt remains dry and untouched, the less likely it is that it will suffer premature damage.
Most asphalt installation contractors schedule their work so that the asphalt will remain dry for at least 24 hours, if not 3 to 4 days after installation. If rain is on the horizon, your contractor might mix certain additives into the asphalt materials, to speed up the curing process.
If the asphalt is already installed and the weather takes a turn for the worse, consider setting protective tarps or coverings over the fresh pavement. Your asphalt installation contractor might also suggest other ways of keeping that new asphalt dry, such as the use of commercial dryers or other equipment.
Can Asphalt Be Laid in Cold Weather?
Asphalt can be laid in cold weather as long as the ground isn’t frozen, it’s not snowing, and the temperatures remain somewhat moderate! To better understand how cold weather affects asphalt, consider:
- Asphalt is poured while still warm, to keep it pliable for rolling and pressing into place. Frozen ground might freeze and stiffen asphalt during the installation process, so that it cannot be rolled or compacted as needed and won’t set properly once installed.
- Once ice particles in frozen ground melt, asphalt absorbs that water just as it does rain! As with ground wet from rain, it’s better to wait until the soil has thawed and dried before installing fresh asphalt.
- During wintertime, temperatures can fluctuate quickly. In turn, asphalt installation contractors might try to work just as quickly, to install and press asphalt before it can harden. However, working too quickly can mean a poor-quality job! Contractors should take the time needed to ensure asphalt is installed evenly and pressed into place properly.
As with rain, falling snow also interferes with asphalt’s raw materials, allowing them to separate. To reduce this risk, put off asphalt installation during wintertime as much as possible and wait until the weather is more favorable for your needed paving or repairs.
What is the Lowest Temperature to Lay Asphalt? What Is the Hottest?
Asphalt itself should stay between 275 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit when mixed, and between 220 and 290 degrees when installed. If asphalt mixtures fall below 185 degrees during installation, the material will stiffen up and set prematurely so that it cannot be pressed into place.
Ambient temperatures, or the air around you, and ground temperatures should stay between 50 and 90 degrees for asphalt to remain at a desired temperature. However, keep in mind that the ground gets very cold overnight and needs time to warm up again; in late fall or early spring, the ground might still be frozen even if ambient temperatures are hovering around or above the 50-degree mark!
If you must schedule fresh asphalt installation in colder weather, use an instant-read meat thermometer, available in the kitchen section of just about any retail store, to check ground temperatures. Insert the thermometer into the ground and ensure it is above your desired 50-degree mark before installing asphalt.
What Is the Best Time of Year to Lay Asphalt?
While asphalt can cure during the colder weather of late fall and early spring, it’s best to schedule asphalt installation for late spring or summer. Scheduling asphalt installation when there is still plenty of warm weather ahead ensures the material doesn’t dry and harden too quickly, or suffer water damage from a premature frost or early snow!
Springtime asphalt installation also gives a property owner time to monitor asphalt’s condition over the next few weeks and months. If you notice a pothole or other premature damage, or if the asphalt begins to sink or crack anywhere, you can contact your asphalt contractor and schedule repairs or fixes, before the pavement is covered in a layer of snow!
How Long Does It Take for Asphalt Sealer to Dry?
Outside weather conditions affect sealant, so that it might dry within 24 hours on a sunny, warm day. On cloudy or cooler days, sealant typically takes some 48 to 72 hours to dry completely.
An asphalt contractor might note if the sealant type used for your asphalt installation dries faster, so that you can drive on your new pavement as soon as possible. He or she might also recommend you cover asphalt if it starts to rain or even get overly humid, to protect both the paving material and its sealant and allow them both time to dry properly.
How Does Hot Weather Affect Asphalt?
Overly cold asphalt is difficult to press into place, but extreme heat can affect new asphalt as well! When temperatures reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, asphalt might not set and cure as it should. In turn, asphalt might crack or sink.
Those new cracks allow water to seep into asphalt’s lower layers, breaking down its binders. Cracks also weaken asphalt so that spalling, chips, and potholes might form sooner than expected. To ensure asphalt sets and cures quickly, avoid overly hot and humid days for installation just as you would rainy or snowy days!
How to Protect Asphalt From Weather Damage
Now that you know how weather affects asphalt installation and repairs, it’s vital that you keep asphalt protected from weather right after installation and throughout the years! Regular sealing provides a barrier between asphalt and harsh sunlight, rain, snow, snow salt, and other damaging elements, preventing premature cracking, spalling, and similar damage.
Professional power washing also removes damaging oil and other fluids, as well as snow salt and lawn care chemicals. A chip sealant, adding a layer of liquid asphalt and new aggregate, fills in minor cracks while restoring asphalt’s appearance. Your asphalt installation contractor can also note added ways to ensure your property’s asphalt is in good condition and looking its best.
A Word From the Asphalt Experts at Midland Asphalt Paving
This information is proudly provided by Midland Asphalt Paving, the area’s leading provider of asphalt installation and repairs. If you’re still wondering, is it possible to lay asphalt in the rain, or if you’re in the market for the highest-quality asphalt paving and repair work in Midland and surrounding cities, give us a call!