Asphalt Resurfacing vs. Replacement

When you begin noticing structural damage in your driveway or parking lot, it is up to you to determine the time and way you are to go about addressing the issue. Damaged pavement will look unattractive, decrease your home’s value, and be expensive to repair. 

Pavement damage can begin with a little hole, which can eventually transform into a pothole under varying temperatures and pressures. It is necessary to consider replacing or resurfacing your driveway or parking lot to get the problem fixed. 

So, what are asphalt resurfacing and replacement?

Resurfacing means substituting the asphalt’s top layer with a new layer. Resurfacing can extend the lifespan of your driveway for a further eight to fifteen years. 

While replacement means the full overhaul of the old asphalt pavement and substituting it with a fresh one, this takes place when the current asphalt pavement is in severe conditions.

Asphalt resurfacing vs. replacement, which is better for you?

Resurfacing is a good practice for addressing your pavement issue, as it is easier, faster, and, in some ways, just as efficient as a replacement. Nevertheless, there are several instances where driveway or parking lot replacement is not only better, it’s vital. Your driveway would inevitably lose its structural quality after around 15 years. Hence, It would be much more effective to replace it completely if it is too old or has too much damage.

It is necessary to know that not all damage to your driveway or parking lot would need a complete replacement. You can save money and time by fixing or resurfacing it.

But should you replace the whole surface?

You have to find out if your pavement’s foundation is faulty to give a clear answer to this question. How old is the parking lot or driveway? If your pavement is 20 to 30 years old, then it is time for a complete replacement. Because very old driveway or parking lots almost certainly have deteriorated foundations that require being replaced entirely.

The newly installed asphalt overt the gravel

What is asphalt resurfacing?

Resurfacing is one method that will help improve the look of your asphalt driveway or parking lot without requiring much spending out of your budget. If you are contemplating resurfacing or replacing your asphalt surface, note that resurfacing is also great for your pavement and can save you some money ( if the base of your asphalt driveway or parking lot is structurally sound).

This process is an urgent money-saving approach to use when the asphalt shows signs of deterioration. However, there are other things to do, including removing or patching a section and filling holes before you proceed to resurface the entire patch.

Before adding the overlay, you need to do some necessary preparation work; there is a need to fill any crack and hole, level any low or high points, and address any drainage feature that needs adjustment. After carrying out all these repairs, it is now time to lay your new asphalt layer, and your pavement will become as new. Resurfacing can offer your old pavement a new look, without the cost of replacing it altogether.

When should you resurface your asphalt?

Ensuring that your pavement is well-maintained can help guarantee its quality and longevity. Some signs will help you determine between asphalt resurfacing and replacement when your driveway or parking lot calls for repairs. If a basic fix doesn’t do the trick, it might be appropriate to resurface your driveway. 

Resurfacing your pavement depends on the method of repair, and if there are holes and cracks in your driveway, they will surface upon resurfacing if not fixed properly. Signs to say whether you need resurfacing are below:

  • If your paved surface requiring repair is not up to 25-30% 
  • Your pavement is below 20 years of age
  • The base of the pavement is sound structural
  • If your paved surface does not have cracks that are above a quarter-inch wide.
  • If your paved surface does not have cracks that are a few inches deep.
Asphalt resurfacing process over the concrete

Asphalt resurfacing process

When your asphalt surface damage has gone beyond the repair method or becomes too old, it is not the time to contemplate asphalt resurfacing vs. replacement; it is time for a resurface. Resurfacing your asphalt pavement involves four processes:

  • Step 1: Preparation: The pavement to be resurfaced needs to be prepared; you have to clear the area of debris, grass, loosed asphalt, etc. 
  • Step 2: Remove the top layer of the existing asphalt pavement (termed asphalt milling)
  • Step 3: Pavement repair:  There may be damage to the pavement underneath the asphalt layer. If this is the situation, the contractor will add more asphalt to the section that requires heavy repairs after they fix them to level the surface level with the surrounding paved section.
  • Step 4: Asphalt Resurfacing: Once you make ready the surface, apply the asphalt using paving and rolling machines. 

Cost of resurfacing asphalt

The cost of resurfacing an asphalt driveway is cheaper than the price it requires to install a fresh driveway. Asphalt resurfacing cost about $3-$7 per square foot. 

Resurfacing is more cost-effective than rubber or pavers but costlier than gravel or tar-and-chip. However, if you want to overlay one with the other, the overall cost can differ.

The process of asphalt seal coating

Alternatives to resurfacing

Asphalt resurfacing and replacement are not the only available options for you. When you talk of resurfacing, there are other alternatives that can help keep your deteriorating asphalt in good shape, including seal coating and patching. These two options are excellent alternatives to resurfacing.


Sealcoating means applying a protective coating (liquid mixture) to the asphalt surface to protect the asphalt from damage and weather.

Once the thin coating solidifies over the asphalt, it provides a deep dark finish, making it looks excellent and offering a durable protective layer to the pavement. Sealcoating protects the asphalt against corrosive chemicals, UV light, oil leaks, and moisture. 


Patching is the covering of potholes or unearthed areas in the asphalt pavement. This process also works well, especially if there is no much damage on your pavement and it is inexpensive to carry out. If you repair potholes or other damage in your pavement early, it prevents further degradation resulting in costly pavement repair.

The most cost-effective way to protect your asphalt pavement surface and the base is asphalt patching. You get an immediate boost in appearance and protection by filling potholes while shielding your pavement from more degradation and erosion.

What is asphalt replacement?

Replacement is the complete breakdown and hauling away of the old asphalt pavement before laying down fresh asphalt. This method involves leveling and compacting the asphalt subgrade, ensuring it is still solid, preventing any sinking or settling. After that, a new layer of asphalt would be paved down, making for a new brand pavement. The new asphalt pavement would last for many years if it is given proper care and maintenance.

Asphalt resurfacing is often a viable option for your pavement, but replacement is required mostly in serious situations. Although it is more costly, it is also twice the life of your driveway or parking lot. It allows you to “start fresh” with a surface free of any surface-level faults or fundamental deficiencies.

A damage asphalt with rocks and sand on the top.

When should you replace your asphalt?

There are indications to tell if your parking lots or asphalt driveway need replacement. Replacing your pavement may be the better alternative if you observe the below symptoms on it:

  • The paved surface needing repairs is above 25 to 30% 
  • Your pavement surface is above 20 years old.
  • Your pavement developed cracks that are a few inches deep
  • Unstable foundation.
  • Your pavement developed cracks that are more than a quarter-inch wide

Asphalt replacement process

Do you have an asphalt parking lot or driveway that requires replacement? It is recommended that you get in a professional paving contractor to guarantee a perfect result. The following steps are the way to get the job done:

  • Step 1. Demolition and removal: The first step here is to completely demolish and remove the old asphalt layer using heavy equipment. After that, the contractor will haul away the debris, leaving a new paving area to work with.
  • Step 2. Excavation: The contractor will excavate the area, ensuring the top of the driveway is relatively higher than the lower part. This will lead to correct water drainage, decreasing any early degradation of the driveway, and preventing the property from flooding with water.
  • Step 3. Apply Sub-Grade: The contractor will uniformly spread the material sub-grade using rakes and shovels across the pavement area. Then it is wet down and compacted to form a healthy support system for the forthcoming driveway. It is then moistened and compressed to form a solid support structure for the impending pavement. This process applies to both asphalt resurfacing and replacement.
  • Step 4.  Binder and Surface Course: Once the sub-grade is laid, any soft areas will be detected and fixed. After that, the binder will be applied (a large aggregate mixed with oil), rendering it very solid and long-lasting.
  • Step 5. Install new asphalt surface: The contractor will install the top layer of new asphalt to offer a safe, clean, smooth ride after installing the new asphalt surface’s supporting structures.
  • Step 6. Final roll: The contractor will smooth and compact the entire surface using a roller truck after laying the asphalt butt joints.
A big house with smooth and new asphalt driveway.

Asphalt replacement cost

The cost to have your asphalt pavement surface replaced will rely on the type of asphalt you select and the thickness of the new driveway or parking lot you’re opting for. However, you will be spending $8 to $15 per square foot on average to have your asphalt pavement replaced.

Pros and Cons of Asphalt Resurfacing vs. Replacement

If you are contemplating between replacing and resurfacing your asphalt pavement, it is good that you know what is in both methods. By determining the pros and cons of asphalt resurfacing vs. replacement, you will be able to make an informed decision for your next project.


  1. Resurfacing your asphalt pavement would save you some dollars as it requires a few materials and less time to complete compared to replacement.
  2. Resurfacing can be a DIY method as it is simple to perform, unlike replacement which involves rigorous processes
  3. Resurfacing takes less time to get done, unlike replacement which involves lots of processes, and consumes much time to complete.


  1. Resurfacing is not effective when the pavement damage is severe, while replacement works well for little or extreme degradation of the pavement.
  2. A resurfaced pavement does not last as much as a replaced one.
  3. Resurfacing does not address pavement with structural problems, while a replacement is perfect for pavement with an unstable base.
  4. Resurfacing may conceal hidden serious problems in the pavement foundation. Simultaneously, a replacement can uncover any hidden issue with the base pavement as it involves total demolition and excavation of the pavement.
Two workers are busy resurfacing a driveway.

Tips for asphalt maintenance to increase the longevity of the surface

Well constructed and installed asphalt pavements can help maximize their useful service life if maintained properly. An effective asphalt care plan can significantly increase the useful life of your asphalt parking lot or driveway. In the long run, an effective preventive maintenance schedule would help save money, thus offering a surface that is appealing, flexible, and safe for years to come. Below are few tips for maintaining asphalt to increase the longevity of the surface. These tips are valid for both asphalt resurfacing and replacement;

  • Control load: Try to limit the presence of heavy vehicles on your driveway or parking lot as they usually carry heavy loads that can destroy your pavement in no time.
  • Regularly sweep and wash your pavement with a stiff brush to prevent debris from triggering damage to it. A clean pavement can also help you detect cracks and drainage problems easily to be fixed before they get severe.
  • Ensure that you immediately fill any crack that may develop on your pavement to prevent a destructive element from penetrating the pavement base.
  • Ensure no drainage issues are causing standing water on your pavement. This will prevent cracks and potholes from forming.
  • Apply a fresh seal coat to your asphalt pavement to help prevent it from chemical spills, moisture, air, and UV rays.
  • Call in a professional asphalt contractor to immediately fix any damage in your pavement that is big enough to be addressed by seal coating and filling.
A beautiful asphalt parking lot with green trees at the side.

How to save some dollars on asphalt resurfacing and replacement project

While asphalt is usually cheaper than concrete, you might be curious about how to save money on its construction, especially if you need to tear out your old driveway before installing a new one. 

Asphalt is completely recyclable, and it is typically possible to extract and mix older pieces or portions of this material with new batches. So ask your contractor about using recycled material for your paving project. This not only prevents existing asphalt out of landfills but also can be less expensive than getting fresh asphalt. 


It is vital to recognize all the warning signs in your pavement to make the right choice between asphalt resurfacing and replacement. If you perform replacement when you should have resurfaced, it’s going to cost you. If you resurface when you need to replace it, it’s still going to cost you. Understanding the required thing to be done isn’t trial and error. So, get in a professional opinion to examine your pavement and tell whether resurfacing or replacement is best for you.