Pavement Preservation for Your Property

Pavement preservation is a hot topic around the country. With nearly 4 million paved roads in America, pavement represents a $1.75 trillion investment—an investment which is in a constant state of deterioration from the neverending assault of asphalt enemies, such as rain, debris, sunshine, and plain old wear and tear.

In days of yesteryear, the maintenance of roads across the country was haphazard at best. Delays or total dismissal of routine care, such as filling cracks, sealing, and performing timely overlays caused the condition of roadways to deteriorate at a faster pace, often necessitating major redos when the situation became too far gone.

Between 1995 and 2005 an effort was made towards more fully educating government entities and private stakeholders on the theories of pavement preservation. This general trend could be summed up nicely in the mantra, “Right Road, Right Treatment, Right Time.” This initiative traveled throughout the country, leading to a significantly more mindful approach towards protecting the miles upon miles of asphalt assets. In the years that have followed we continue to see incredible advancements in how roads are maintained. The sophistication of ability to assess and treat road issues as they happen has grown exponentially.

While you might not be concerned with the day-to-day upkeep on the hundreds of miles of asphalt roads ribboning throughout our great state, you can apply the concepts of pavement preservation to your own property’s surfaces. It’s simple to enhance the condition and extend the life of your asphalt by following a few of the main principles:

Map Out a Plan

It’s never too late to plan for the next decade in the life of your asphalt investments. Although certain elements can affect the condition as the months and years wear on, there’s a pretty recognizable cycle to the deterioration and best practices to follow in order to intervene. Are you familiar with the life cycle of your pavement? We have a comprehensive article that will provide you with an easy reference. https://www.blackdiamondpaving.com/resources/the-pavement-life-cycle/

Don’t Delay on Maintenance

Once you have a plan in place, follow it scrupulously and proactively. Putting off till tomorrow what ought to be done today never fails to cost you more in the long run. Attending to sealcoating, crack sealing, and patch repairs are just a few things that will pay big rewards if they are done in a timely manner. You can do things on your own as well, such as keeping the surface free of debris, chemicals, and fluids, which can cause significant damage if left to their own devices.

Find a Good Partner

If taken care of, your pavement will last decades. Pairing up with a professional ensures you get good advice, best practice solutions, high quality materials, and appropriate attention to what needs to be done and when.

Black Diamond happily provides all of the above. We’d love to be your partner in pavement preservation. Our seasoned professionals will aid you in coming up with a plan and implementing it throughout each step of your pavement’s life cycle. We’re Diamond Certified and have received the Highest in Quality rating for 12 consecutive years. And 97% of our customers say they’d work with us again. What more could you ask for in a paving partner? Give us a call today!

Picture Perfect Pool Decks: Maintenance Really is the Key

Ahhhhh…prime pool season has arrived. Hands up if you’re the type of person who spends the majority of your free time by the water during the summer months. We don’t blame you! Few things beat soaking up the California sunshine while friends and youngsters splash not far away.

But as any property manager or owner can attest to, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved in keeping a pool in top shape for your residents. The pool deck surface and pool walls, specifically, need extra attention for the coming season. By keeping those well maintained, you not only increase your property’s beauty and safety, but add years to its longevity, as well.

Keep Your Pool Deck Pristine

No one wants to push a broom around while the rest of the world is lounging, but routinely sweeping your pool area will help eliminate the accumulation of dirt and debris that can lead to disintegration of your deck. If you have a lot of falling vegetation or pollen in the area, you may need to perform this task daily. The bonus to keeping your deck’s surfaces nice and clean is there’s less junk that will inevitably fall into the pool. You’ll be doing your filters a favor with every sweep.

Periodic cleaning with a strong hose or power washer will also keep your pool surface spruced up and serve to clear out pesky bacterias that can grow and make areas slippery. Pay special attention to the cooler, damper areas of your deck, such as behind planters and around decorative rocks and fences.

Be Sure to Seal

The life of your concrete relies heavily on how well you protect it from elements, such as chemicals, water, and debris, that can cause disintegration. Sealing the surface annually creates a barrier that resists all of the above and keeps it looking nice year-round. When sealing, pay attention to any small cracks which have occurred and have those filled in before they cause a tripping hazard. Even the smallest of cracks can attract little toes.

Don’t Forget the Pool Walls

You may not think about it as you stumble around during a fierce game of Marco Polo, but the pool walls represent a serious amount of surface area that needs to be maintained. Careful testing and a well-balanced chemical cocktail keeps your water sparkling and goes a long way toward keeping the entire inner surface clean. But there are a few more steps that should be taken:

  • Brush, brush, brush. Yes, you have the vacuum, and that does a great job in many respects, but you can’t beat a good brushing for getting to the more challenging problem areas. The water line, behind the ladder, and the seams in the lining are all tricky places where algae can begin to grow.
  • Don’t short the run time on your filter. Depending on the size of your pool, you should probably be running the filter 8 or more hours per day. This will accommodate all the water going through the system and keep things clean and fresh. This is especially important when you have a pool that receives high amounts of traffic.

Consider a Replacement

Depending on the age and condition of your pool deck, it may be time to bite the bullet and replace the whole shebang. It sounds like a daunting process, but with the right project management, the whole thing can be just about as easy as a summer breeze. Enter Black Diamond!

When you sign on for a job with us, our experts take care of all aspects of the replacement process. Not only do we have a handle on the concrete work, we manage the entire project, coordinating with other trades from start to finish for a seamless, hassle-free experience for you and your community. Black Diamond’s skilled team, in collaboration with our network of trade professionals, can help you with:

  • Concrete surface replacement
  • Plumbing system repairs and pressure testing
  • Electrical system repairs
  • Handrail and skimmer replacement
  • Coping
  • ADA compliance
  • Landscape repair
  • Fencing
  • Permits

Give us a call to see how we can help your pool deck make a splash this summer!

Innovative Asphalt Technology: A Cure for the Plastics Dilemma?

It’s on the news, it’s in your kitchen bins, and it’s in our landfills and waterways. The prevalence of plastics in our world continues to grow, offering convenience to manufacturers and consumers, yet also bringing its own set of challenges when it comes to disposal and recycling.

The technological forces in the world of asphalt never cease to amaze us in their quest for innovation. They are now making great strides in the utilization of what were once the discards of recycling and turning them into stronger, longer lasting roadways.

Toby McCartney has been a pioneer in this research. He was first inspired to explore the possibilities after a trip to India. Residents there would fill potholes with plastic waste and then light it on fire. The melting plastics would fill in and harden in the hole, creating a makeshift solution. When he returned to his home of Scotland, he began to do extensive research into the possibilities. Formal scientific advances of that basic premise have been occurring in India as well.

How does it work? The refuse from post consumer packaging such as water bottles, plastic bags, and plastic farming waste is shredded or formed into pellets and incorporated into bitumen, the oily black binding agent which holds the gravel, sand, and other organic materials together. The benefits of this process include the fact that the sorting efforts needed are not prohibitively discriminating—much of what is not typically recycled due to complicated separation and cleaning procedures can be used.

The average asphalt mix is comprised of roughly 90% aggregate and 10% bitumen. By replacing the bitumen with 6-20% plastic waste, the roadway can be formulated for specific conditions such as extreme heat or repeated freeze and thaw cycles. For every ton of asphalt generated, a whopping 20,000 plastic bottles and 70,000 plastic bags can be incorporated.

Plasticizing our asphalt has other benefits, as well. Take, for instance, modular plastic road construction in which portions of road are constructed off site and placed as needed. These have an advantage of providing space underneath the roadways for drainage or other components and can be easily placed and replaced.

As with much in our world, when it comes to technology, there are pros and cons. The naysayers of the advances in plastic roadways argue that it merely hides the problem of plastics and still brings with it concerns over leakage of chemicals, fumes emitted during processing, and a false sense of repurpose. It will be interesting to see how things continue to unfold and what balances are achieved between environmental efforts and consumer trends.

So, what do you think? Plastic asphalt—good or ill?

Capture This: High-Tech Road Selfies

With over 4 million miles of paved road in the US, the job of creating, assessing, and maintaining roads throughout our country is dynamic and exciting. And every now and then, something comes along that really changes the landscape of our paved thoroughfares.

Enter RoadBotics. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this new company, established in December of 2016, was created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon Robotic Institute. Using the artificial intelligence technology of autonomous vehicles, they developed computer vision software to assess and manage road conditions.

The premise is as simple as the technology is complex. An app and a smartphone are installed into any chosen vehicle to gather data. A municipality might use government vehicles such as a trash trucks, which travel just about every road in the city. Another option is to mount the technology in private vehicles, such as those owned by Uber and Lyft drivers. As the vehicle drives, the camera begins to continuously capture and store images, combining them with the GPS locations of where they were taken. These images are then analyzed frame by frame and pixel by pixel to identify nuances in the roadway such as bumps, dips, or cracks. The data is then fed into an interactive mapping program called Roadway and assigned color values designating the condition of the road. Green means excellent, while red means some serious attention is needed in those parts.

Once the data is on Roadway, users can pull up actual photos of the areas they’re interested in. The entire city or county can be viewed at a glance, or a particular stretch of roadway can be zeroed in on. The mapping can be used to address short term maintenance and long range planning efforts.

The impact of this technology is tremendous. More than 90 cities, towns, and counties across the US and Australia have jumped on board. For instance, the city of Detroit has recently contracted with RoadBotics to analyze their more than 2,600 miles of asphalt. What was once done manually and quite tediously by employees over the course of months or even years, and which was subject to each individual’s opinion, has been focused down to a much quicker and considerably less subjective snapshot of the conditions. This allows cities and governments to more effectively allocate their resources. Also exciting is the ability to translate this technology into identifying other areas in need of attention, such as sidewalks, street signs, and more.

You can be sure Black Diamond Paving and Concrete will continue to keep up to date with our ever growing, evolving industry. We love using the latest and the greatest to ensure that your property is in tip top condition. For now though, that means we will continue to send out a very experienced and extremely nice human to help assess and meet your paving needs.

Rising Costs of Construction Materials: What Do They Mean for You?

You may have seen it on the news, or read it in the financial reports, or even noticed it when you made a trip into the lumber store for that DIY project: The cost of construction materials in America are on the rise.

Unfortunately, this increase in the pricing index does not exclude the asphalt industry, which saw a jump of 9.2% between August of 2017 and August of 2018. The industry continues to acclimate and adapt to these changes by staying on top of technology, making the best use of recycled materials, and monitoring labor costs.

But, what can you, as a property owner, do to mitigate the rising costs on your end? Well, we’ll tell you.

Maintenance. Maintenance. Maintenance.

We know, we know. It’s the nagging mantra of car mechanics, HVAC technicians, and paving professionals everywhere. It’s the song we sing the loudest. The one that bears repeating again and again and again until you’re tired of hearing it and we’re plenty tired of saying it. You just cannot escape the reality that proper maintenance goes the farthest toward keeping your costs down when it comes to your paved surfaces.

Proper maintenance can mean the difference between your parking lot crumbling to pieces after only 10 years or staying beautiful for 25. It doesn’t take a professional mathematician to deduce that periodic maintenance will end up costing you much less than having to replace your asphalt or concrete surfaces twice as often.

If you’d like to know more about the pavement life cycle, we have a great article on our website with all the info, complete with bar charts and even a video. Check it out! https://www.blackdiamondpaving.com/resources/the-pavement-life-cycle/

Lecture over.

Use Your Resources Wisely

And by “resources,” we mean us. We know you’re busy managing all the ins and outs of your own job and may not wish to pick up an extra degree in paving. That’s fine with us. We are paving geeks—the type to eagerly pick up a trade magazine and read about the latest and greatest in our corner of the world. We have insider info that we call on continuously to benefit YOU and your bottom line.

Not only can we help you assess the needs of your property and the best options within your budget, we even help communicate the particulars of the job to your residents. We manage things seamlessly so you can spend your valuable time in all the other ways important to your business. Time is money, after all.

Consider Concrete

Asphalt is considerably cheaper than concrete when it comes to project install prices. However, there is a myriad of additional facets to consider, such as length of life, aesthetics, ability to resurface, and maintenance needs. Given that the price of concrete has not seen as steep of a rise in raw material costs, it may be worth considering.

Interested in the great asphalt vs. concrete debate? Well, wouldn’t you know…we’ve got an article on that, too. [Or we might, if it’s approved yet, Jeff…?]

Don’t Put Off the Inevitable

When you’re facing a big project or re-do of your surfaces it may be tempting to wait it out and put it off for another day, month, or year. Sadly, that’s akin to seeing that your kitchen sink is overflowing, turning around and walking out of the room, hoping it will fix itself. A deteriorating surface only gets worse as time goes on. The rising costs of asphalt materials gives you another checkmark in the DO IT NOW column. Experts predict, due to market trends and various tariffs, the costs are likely to continue to rise. Now may not only be the best time, it may also be the cheapest time to tackle those big projects.

At Black Diamond Paving & Concrete you can be sure we’ll keep an eye on the rising costs and continue to do what we do best. We take great pride in giving our customers the straight story about their options without ever overselling projects. That adds up to the best cost savings around, an honest assessment of your needs, and solutions that keep your budget in mind.

Leave Your Mark with Stamped Concrete

Think concrete is blah and boring? Think again! Stamped concrete can transform the everyday same-old-same-old into a vision of beauty, as unique as you are. Take a standard pool deck and turn it into a masterpiece with a stamped natural stone look and contrasting edging. Or add elegance to your community center with a faux cobblestone drive. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!

Sound intriguing? Here are a few pro tips to get you going:

Pick Your Texture

If you’re longing for a natural stone look but don’t quite have a natural stone budget, stamped concrete could be the answer. The appearance of cobblestones, slate, pebbles, etc. can easily be mimicked, creating a nicely textured surface without the labor of setting individual stones. And if stone isn’t your thing, opt for a faux wood or brick effect.

Oh, the Colors

The sky’s the limit when choosing colors for your stamped concrete. The ability to combine shades and hues and choose from a selection of sealers means you can create a look that is custom to your desires. As an added benefit, the sealers incorporate UV protection to keep fading minimal, even in the sunniest of spots.

The Nitty Gritty

If your surface is going to see lots of wet feet (a pool deck, for instance), a non-skid grit can make the surface both safe and easy on the toes. No more rough edges to snag a swimsuit upon while hanging out poolside. You can keep the color light and bright as well to keep the temperature down in sunny spaces.

Mix It Up

For added interest, consider doing accent areas that merge with traditional concrete. A stamped stone border around the perimeter of a parking lot keeps things looking clean and professional, for instance, and a patterned entryway lends an air of sophistication to an otherwise humdrum pool area.

Easy Upkeep

It may be beautiful, but stamped concrete is far from high maintenance. Once you have it in place, all that’s needed is an occasional hosing down to remove grime and a reapplication of sealer every 2-3 years. Whether used in a pool setting, a driveway, or patio, the sealer provides the extra bonus of barrier protection to water, chemicals, spills, and more.

Is your interest piqued? If you’d like to explore how stamped concrete can add ambiance and durability to your outdoor spaces, give us a call!

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! No…It’s a Drone!

Drone Technology and the Paving Industry

Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (if you want to get fancy with it) are hovering high these days. They can be found zooming around parks, crop dusting over farm fields, and swooping in to capture wedding parties as they stand smiling blindly into the sun. They are even becoming big players (or flyers) in the world of paving and concrete.

So Many Pretty Pictures!

The earliest and most basic use of drones in the asphalt and concrete arena was for marketing and documenting purposes. The ease of sending a drone up to take recorded images of the before, during, and after transitions of a project has served the industry well in regards to identifying needs and giving a nice visual of the completed work. But they have quickly evolved into so much more.

Exactly How Big is that Pile of Rocks?

Perhaps the biggest impact of drone technology as it applies to asphalt and concrete is at the aggregate plants. Estimating materials needed used to be a labor intensive and dangerous proposition and was never entirely accurate. It was a little more sophisticated than a guy measuring it out by the bucketful, but it still involved a fair amount of manual labor, math, and good old fashioned hill climbing. Drones have transformed this process by monitoring volume and contours of stockpiles from the air using sophisticated software. They are also increasingly used in conjunction with daily walkthroughs, identifying heat changes, gas leaks, broken equipment, and more from their bird’s eye vantage point.

No More Guy with a Shovel.

We’re lucky to not have to deal with too many potholes in the Bay Area, but in other parts of the country the constant freeze and thaw can wreak havoc on the roadways. Researchers in England have come up with drones which not only take images of the roadways to identify problem areas, they are also equipped with 3D printers and an extruder to land and fill the cracks and crevices on the spot. This means the stretch of road can be assessed and repaired in a matter of hours rather than days. The timely repairs ease traffic hassles and also increase the lifespan of the road.

But What About Pizza?

It’s all fascinating stuff, and we are anxious to see how drone technology and other advances in the industry will enhance what we do day to day. To be honest, we are mostly just waiting for drones that will show up on the porch with a piping hot pizza…. In the meantime, you can rest assured Black Diamond Paving & Concrete will continue to shine in the basics, providing expertise, attention to detail, and superb customer service with every project we undertake.

Nanotechnology and Asphalt

The Teeny Tiny Bits of Stuff that Make Pavement Better

nan·o·tech·nol·o·gy
ˌnanōˌtekˈnäləjē/
noun
1. the branch of technology that deals with dimensions and tolerances of less than 100 nanometers, especially the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.

What does the egg that slides from your frying pan, the tennis ball you bounce to your pup, the sunscreen you slather on at the beach all have in common with the roads you drive on? You’ve guessed it—nanotechnology.

Put simply, nanotechnology is a process in which individual atoms and molecules are manipulated. To give you an idea of scale, there are approximately 25 million nanoparticles per inch. We’re talking TINY. How can something so small make such a big difference? Let’s take a look at the roles nanoparticles play in the world of asphalt:

Nanoclays

Asphalt is made up of finely ground materials, mixed with a binder which is heated and then applied over a compacted base. The use of nanoclays—super teeny tiny bits of layered mineral silicates—added to the binder mix can increase the viscosity of the material, making it easier to pour and spread. Once cooled, it has the effect of enhancing the compression and resilience qualities of the asphalt by making it less brittle, which means less cracking and crushing.

Nanoirons

The addition of nanoparticles into asphalt can also positively impact pavement maintenance. For instance, research is underway into self-healing roads using iron nanoparticles. In this application, iron nanoparticles are infused into the binder, and when the sun, ice, rain, and general wear and tear creates micro cracks, a specially designed machine emitting a magnetic field can be moved over the surface, heating the binder and healing the cracks. This technology could double the life span of roads and turn repairs into an hours long scenario, rather than weeks long.

Nanosilicas

The use of nanomaterials stretches far beyond just making paved surfaces more durable. They can be used to increase safety features, as well. Skid resistance is the highest factor in evaluating surface safety. The use of nanosilica (silicon dioxide nanoparticles) in a top coating can reduce skid factor and serve to cut down glare and road noise.

Nanophosphorous

Do you ever have trouble seeing the pavement markings on a dark and rainy night? By augmenting the line markings with phosphorus materials, visibility factors are increased and improved.

There’s a lot on the horizon with asphalt technology. At Black Diamond, you can be assured we are keeping up with the latest research and trends in our ongoing effort to giving you the best customer experience and longevity of surfaces possible.

Interested in Interlayers?

The Magic Mesh Material that Helps Curb Cracks

Crocodile skin may be hot, hot, hot when it comes to fashion, but it’s significantly less desirable when it’s your pavement that begins to look reptilian.

Even with routine maintenance, cracks can appear and begin to take over in an invasive spread. Since asphalt is brittle by nature, temperature fluctuations, soil shifts, and traffic can wreak havoc both on top of and under the surface, creating what are called reflective cracks. You can do a simple overlay of asphalt to provide some temporary measures, but for a more thorough (and less costly in the long run) fix, consider application of an interlayer.

Made of a mesh type fabric, interlayers are known by a few brand names such as Petromat, GlasPave, and TruePave, but they all essentially work the same. They add a slightly more flexible, stress-absorbing and moisture-resisting barrier between your old and new surfaces.

The process is relatively simple:

  • A light coat of asphalt is applied on top of the old asphalt to fill in cracks and make the surface smooth again.
  • The fabric is then laid on the new asphalt coat. Full saturation with asphalt oil is critical for lasting strength and support.
  • Finally, a new layer of asphalt is applied to top things off. The saturated fabric is strong enough to keep the cracks underneath from permeating the new upper layers of asphalt.

If you’re experiencing just a few problem areas of asphalt, rather than across the full surface, this fabric can be applied in those areas as needed. Be aware, however, that any existing cracks from the non-interlay surface can eventually migrate their way over to new surfaces.

Whether you’re interested in fixing problem areas or your desire is to limit the number of cracks and severity of cracking in the future, interlayers can provide a great solution.

Call Black Diamond Paving today to find out if an interlayer is the right solution for your property!

Concrete: The Modest Material With a Rock-Solid Reputation

What Can Concrete Do for You?

From roadways, sidewalks, and curbs to fancy pool decks and retaining walls, concrete can be found in nearly every urban and rural setting across the country. And with good reason! It’s versatile, it’s durable, it’s economical…it really has a rock solid reputation, and we thought it was about time you got to know it a little better.

First, a Bit of History

  • January 11, 1900: Thomas Edison applied for his first patent concerning concrete. Over the next 17 years, he would apply and receive 49 concrete patents—for crushing and screening, conveyors, sealing, and more.
  • 1909: In Detroit, the Wayne County Road Commission (of which a guy pretty invested in roads—Henry Ford—was a member) completed the first concrete road, which was a whole mile long!
  • 1922: The Edison Portland Cement Company poured the concrete for Yankee Stadium. When the stadium was renovated in 1973, the concrete walls were left untouched. They’d held up beautifully for more than 50 years!

But, How (You Might Ask) is it Made?

You’d be hard pressed to find a more humble material. Composite materials such as sand and gravel are mixed with a fluid paste (cement) and water. Rather than simply drying to its rock-like final form, the mix goes through a series of chemical reactions due to the lime content in the cement portion of the mix. This curing process, which takes place over a series of hours, or even days, allows the concrete mix to be transported, poured, smoothed, and perfected.

Why Concrete? (We Know You’re Dying to Find Out)

The benefits of using concrete are numerous and varied. For a start, it’s highly water and fire resistant. Unlike wood or metal, concrete does not rust or decompose. Whether the desired project is strictly utilitarian or decorative, concrete can be molded and poured into any shape imaginable, and reinforcing materials, such as rebar, can be added. In addition to its tough-guy qualities, concrete holds the top prize for aesthetic options, as it readily accepts tints, sealers, texture stamping, and more for an aesthetically appealing finish. Concrete holds its own in terms of durability and longevity and, although the initial costs may be higher than other materials, it’s often more economical over the course of its life span.

Here at Black Diamond, we spend nearly as much time as Edison thinking about concrete. (It is half our name, after all.) Whether you need a pool deck that’s smooth and easy on the feet, shiny new sidewalks and curbs, or repairs to existing concrete surfaces, we are ready to get started. Give us a call! (We’d love to cement our—and our concrete’s—reputation with you!)