In this article, we are going to discuss asphalt and its curing process with you. Generally, asphalt pavements are fit for use soon after installation, but asphalt takes around six to twelve months to cure. Asphalt driveways remain pliable and soft until then because they require a few months to harden and cure. 

Many people tend to confuse drying and curing, although the two processes are vastly different. Asphalt curing means the time the material needs its molecules to fuse and the oxidation to complete. On the other hand, drying means when your asphalt driveway or pavement is ready to endure vehicle and foot traffic without suffering damage. 

What is the Difference between Asphalt drying and Curing

As stated above, people often mistake drying for Curing and vice versa. The concept behind the two is entirely different, and so is the required period for the process to complete. 

Asphalt curing is when the molecules of the material have to fuse, and oxidation happens. The idea is for the residual solvents to begin leaving the film and begin their cross-linking with the environment’s oxygen. 

This cross-linking is an essential step because it helps the material to develop strength, chemical resistance, abrasion resistance, and toughness. For this entire process to happen, asphalt takes approximately six to twelve months to cure.

On the other hand, asphalt drying is when the solvents need to evaporate from the film’s surface and leave your pavement tack-free and un-wet. 

asphalt drying process

How Long Does Asphalt Take to Dry

An asphalt pavement takes approximately forty-eight hours to seventy hours to dry enough for vehicle and foot traffic. But this time frame pertains to new asphalt. If you have resurfaced asphalt, then you can expect that to dry in just a few hours. 

One alternative measure to checking whether your asphalt is cool enough is to compare it with ambient temperature.

How to Care for Your Asphalt Surface during the Curing Process

Asphalt looks stunning and compliments just about any home, but only you exercise the right caution during its curing process. As a homeowner, the sight of freshly laid asphalt may excite you to the point that you forget all about being careful with it, but a few practices are necessary.

These include:

Do Not Always Park in the Same Spot

While the curing process may last all six months, the first fourteen days or few weeks are most vulnerable. Even if you can drive on it after two or three days, do not make the mistake of parking in the same spot on your new asphalt.

The reason is that till it does not cure completely, the asphalt is not hard enough or has not sealed enough. Parking in the same spot, especially during the hotter part of the day, will cause unevenness of the surface and bend the part where your vehicle is lower than the others. 

Hence, to avoid causing permanent dents where the wheels rest on your asphalt, it is best to park in alternate locations till at least a month or more passes.

Avoid Excessive Weight/Traffic on Surface

By putting on too much weight or subjecting your new asphalt to excessive traffic, you can cause it to depress. Hence, till sufficient time has passed, we recommend refraining from exerting too much load onto your new asphalt so that you don’t cause ugly depressions and unevenness on it.

asphalt sealcoating

General Asphalt Maintenance Tips

Regular Sealcoating

You must never underestimate the power of regular seal coating. It helps prolong and protect your driveway’s life expectancy. In seal coating, you fill the surface damage while building a protective layer around the asphalt surface, which keeps it safe from UV damage.

UV rays tend to harm the material, just like water and vehicle fluids do. Sealcoating is essential after every three to five years for adding more protection and a fresher look for the surface. When you fail to do this, you leave your surface vulnerable to external factors and elements. 

When you properly seal and protect your asphalt, you do not allow it to crack and crumble under elemental pressures. This also maximizes your driveway’s lifetime and reduces the repair costs you would have to bear otherwise in the long-term. 

Regular Inspections for Cracking

The freeze and thaw cycle is very prevalent in the asphalt material, and in most geographical locations, you can do nothing about it. The movements in the soil and/or subbase can cause the expansion and contraction of the material.

Water also can seep under your driveway and cause more unfavorable movement. Much of this occurs because of the landscape design, over-water, or just too much rain in your area. Since the weather is beyond everyone’s control, cracking is inevitable too. What you can do is inspect your driveway regularly for cracks. Being vigilant in this regard will help you spot cracks and treat them in time

On the contrary, if you allow any negligence here, the cracks will widen to the point that they pose a danger and certainly deteriorate your driveway’s health. Besides, filling cracks is not a very difficult task. You can do it yourself too with some high-quality products from the market.

Regular Cleaning

A good cleaning is beneficial through and through, in every regard, and asphalt is no different. A good cleaning every month removes all the harmful elements from your asphalt that could shorten its lifespan and functionality. 

Remember, the more active and thorough you are in maintaining your driveway, the more it will last you and save you thousands of dollars in repairs. Part of cleaning is to clear every debris, like garbage and leaves, that could stain the surface and damage it too.

The debris consists of broken stones and rocks, and these could cause cracks, scratches, etc. Apart from this, oil stains from and gas and fuel spills also mar your beautiful asphalt. A thorough cleaning every month would clean those spots too. Besides, it is not only the spots you need to worry about: oil spills can cause a lot more damage.

A degreasing cleaning agent would suffice for the job, and other proactive measures for a monthly cleaning routine would help protect the surface.

Do Not Allow the Growth of Grass & Weeds through Cracks

You may consider these harmless, but weeds and grass can push through asphalt alright. Filling cracks would help you prevent any plant from taking permanent root inside your asphalt. To remedy this problem, you can use spot killers or fill the cracks every year.

Often it happens that specific residences have trees and plants located near the edge of their driveways. With time these can push through, and the tree roots threaten to break out of your asphalt surfaces. As a long-term solution, you must consider removing the plants and tree roots permanently or seal every year. 

cured asphalt driveway

Final Thoughts

Asphalt takes around six to twelve months to cure and can last for at least thirty years with proper maintenance. As for the drying time, new asphalt takes around two days, while resurfaced asphalt is ready for your use in just a couple of hours.

A few acceptable practices, regular maintenance, and carefulness in using the driveway will ensure it serves you in good condition for a long.