Asphalt & Concrete FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions

What is asphalt?

Asphalt, also known as hot mix asphalt (HMA), is made from dried, crushed rock and asphalt cement, which is a mixture of petroleum compounds that include asphalt and crushed stone, gravel or sand. Prior to application, asphalt cement is heated and combined with crushed rock.

What causes asphalt to fail?

Asphalt failure is caused by inadequate thickness of the pavement, lack of maintenance, and weak or unstable sub-grade. Asphalt deteriorates when the cement that bonds the asphalt dissolves from UV rays, harsh chemicals, water and traffic. When the fine aggregates are worn away, there is nothing to bind the larger aggregates together and the surface begins to ravel and crack. If left untreated, cracks and potholes will allow water to penetrate the sub-grade, leading to pavement failure.

How can I protect my asphalt investment?

Cracks in the pavement allows moisture to penetrate the sub-base and contributes to the deterioration of the pavement so in order to keep moisture from entering, it is good to get on a Pavement Maintenance Plan (PMP). Additionally, we recommend applying sealant every two-to-three years, depending on wear and check for cracks and have them filled yearly. This will help prevent deterioration of your pavement due to the sun’s rays, harsh chemicals, traffic, and weather.

How long will my parking lot surface last?

No two parking lots are the same, and the rate at which a parking lot deteriorates depends on many factors, such as original design, construction, traffic loads and geographic location. The life expectancy of a well-designed, well-built and well-maintained asphalt parking lot ranges between 15 to 30 years. However, without proper maintenance, a parking lot will deteriorate significantly in as little as 5 to 7 years.

What is an infrared repair?

Infrared Thermal Bonding is an effective, quick and economical solution for patching, which includes heating up the old asphalt to soften it, then adding new asphalt to be fused together. The patched area is ready for traffic within minutes.

What is the difference between crack sealing and sealcoating?

Crack sealing is a method in which hot sealant is applied to cracks in asphalt to protect from water penetration. Sealcoating is a protective layer over the entire surface area which keeps out damaging UV rays, harsh chemicals and water. Depending on the condition of the asphalt, both methods may be used to protect the asphalt. Consult with a knowledgeable ACI representative to determine what course of action is best for your property.

Is sealing cracks cost-effective?

Yes, proper crack repair procedures can double the lifespan of most asphalt pavements. A surface, which is five to ten years old, will usually need a ton of sealant per lane mile and can last up to ten years, depending on wear. However, we recommend checking your cracks yearly and getting them filled the moment you notice deterioration. Consult with a knowledgeable ACI representative to determine what course of action is best for your property.

When should I get cracks sealed?

It depends on your property, the kind of traffic using the pavement, weather and the size of the cracks. Consult with a knowledgeable ACI representative to determine what course of action is best for your property.

What is the difference between sealcoating and resurfacing?

Sealcoating is a protective coating applied to the entire asphalt surface area which provides protection from harsh elements and water. Resurfacing (or overlay) is the process of installing a new layer of asphalt over the existing pavement. The new layer, or overlay, is approximately 1.5-2 inches thick. Consult with a knowledgeable ACI representative to determine what course of action is best for your property.

When is the soonest you can get me on the schedule?

Once a contract is signed with ACI, we aim to get you on the schedule within 72 hours.

How long will my project take to complete?

It depends on what kind of work needs to be done. For example, an infrared patching repair might only take 20 minutes, whereas a full re-paving job can take days depending on the surface area. A set timeframe will be established so you will know exactly what to expect.

Is my business able to remain open while you are doing repairs?

Yes. Our goal is to allow you to keep your business open and operating as normal while we are making improvements. Depending on the type of job, certain sections may be closed and will reopen once it is safe for traffic use.

How long will it take before vehicles can drive on the new surface?

This is dependent on the job. For asphalt resurfacing, depending upon the temperature of the day, you should allow 24-hours before using the new lot. Sealcoating typically needs a 24-hour drying (curing) time after work is completed. Please do not allow traffic on your lot before the drying period is up as it will cause damage. For all other services, a set timeframe will be suggested to you from your ACI representative.

What is “scope of work” and why is it important?

“Scope of work” is the kind of work that needs to be completed, the timeline and budget. A clear scope of work will be provided to you which greatly lowers the chances for confusion as to what’s included in your project. You will be notified every step of the way once your project is scheduled.

Should I rely on a pavement rating system?

It depends. The thing to remember is that any “system” has a degree of subjectivity and can vary substantially depending on the person doing the evaluation. Simply saying a pavement is rated a “6” does not tell you what should be done and why, nor does it explain what caused the problem. It is important to have a clear recommendation and reason regarding which maintenance procedures should be used along with the rating and ACI will provide that to you.

Why should I choose ACI over another company?

It is important to look at a company’s reputation, prior work history, scheduling process, customer service and price. It is imperative to find a long-standing reputable company rather than going with the lowest price company because typically corners are cut which will be far more costly in the long run.

How has the current economy impacted pavement maintenance?

When facing a challenging economy, most businesses have a tighter budget for property maintenance. Instead of choosing to install a whole new parking lot, they are doing routine maintenance in order to prolong the life of their pavement to avoid costly unbudgeted structural repairs. As long as your pavement isn’t completely deteriorated, maintenance can be done. Talk to your ACI representative about some cost-effective solutions that fit your budget.

What is concrete?

Concrete is a mixture of water, aggregate (rock, sand, or gravel) and Portland cement. Cement is usually in powder form and acts as a binding agent when mixed with water and aggregates. The combination is poured and hardens once dried.

How long will it take for concrete to cure?

Generally speaking, the entire curing period of concrete takes about a month, but your concrete will be ready for use sooner. Each project will vary slightly due to differences in the weather, concrete mix and placement and finishing techniques.

When waiting for concrete to cure, keep these timeframes in mind:
  • 24 to 48 hours – after initial set, forms can be removed and people can walk on the surface
  • 7 days – after partial curing, traffic from vehicles and equipment is okay, as concrete has enough initial strength to support these activities
  • 28 days – at this point, the concrete should be fully cured and will have reached its design strength

Using high early strength mixes can allow quicker strength gain and curing… some mixes can get you completely operational in hours or a day.

Curing serves these main purposes:
  • It retains moisture in the slab so that the concrete continues to gain strength.
  • It delays drying shrinkage until the concrete is strong enough to resist shrinkage cracking.
  • Properly curing concrete improves strength, durability, water tightness, and wear resistance.
Is concrete the same as cement?

Contrary to popular belief, concrete and cement are not the same thing. Cement is a component of concrete.

How can I prevent concrete from cracking?

Cracking is inevitable due to the shrinking and expanding that occurs from the temperature changes and the natural movement of the soil beneath, but the goal is to minimize cracking. Installing control joints or adding a steel reinforcement like rebar will improve the strength and help to reduce cracking.

What is spalling?

Spalling concrete occurs when part of the concrete surface peels, breaks or chips away as a result of a weak surface. It is also known as scaling. Spalled concrete can be caused by freeze-thaw cycles, de-icing salts or improper curing.

How can I prevent concrete spalling?

Applying a penetrating waterproofing sealer on your concrete is the best way to prevent moisture-related spalling.

Is it possible to remove stains from concrete?

It depends. There are professional power washing companies that you can call to see if they can power wash the stains away.

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