A Tale of Two Pavements

It’s a story as old as time. Okay, maybe not quite as old as time, maybe just as old as 1870, which is when modern asphalt came into being. 

Picture this: Two parking lots sit across the street from each other. One is glossy and pristine and boasts a rich, dark, unmarred surface while the other wallows in its cracked, bleached, and faded misery. The plot twist is that these two surfaces are the same age, about a decade into their life cycle. 

How is it possible that these twin lots, existing in such close proximity, weather the fates so very differently? The answer can be found in four parts.

Part 1: Maintenance Matters

You just can’t get around the vital fact that consistent maintenance keeps your surfaces looking better, longer. Sealcoating, crack mitigation, and patching hold environmental elements such as moisture and UV rays at bay—elements which can otherwise wage a steady attack on the asphalt’s aggregate, sand, and bitumen both on and below the surface.

Part 2: Tidy Up

A clean surface not only looks better, it performs better in the long run. Puddles of unsightly vehicle effluvia such as brake fluid, transmission fluid, and oil not only create slip hazards on your property but also contain chemicals which can break down the bitumen and accelerate corrosion. The damage can really add up in situations where designated parking means a leaking vehicle may be dripping onto the surface across days or weeks. Periodic cleaning can help, as can policies about keeping under-maintained vehicles off the property.

Part 3: Heavy Hitters

Depending on where your property is located and how many visitors it welcomes on a daily basis, you may have occasional or regular traffic that’s heavy enough to put a real strain on your asphalt. Big trucks can create rutting and cracking of the surface which allows those aforementioned natural elements to seep in and do even more damage. Being mindful and proactive about delivery vehicles and what areas they are allowed to access can help minimize deterioration. If you have a property you know will be subject to a slew of heavy vehicles daily, making adjustments to the surface in the initial stage of planning your pavement is always helpful. 

Part 4: Old Fashioned Challenges

Nature is a beast and one that routinely tries to take down what man has created. The big war of nature against asphalt generally comes down to water and tree roots. Lack of good drainage often means puddles form and water is allowed to migrate through the surface. Providing a pathway for water to make a speedy exit is imperative. Trees can also wreak havoc as their roots creep under the surface, popping up where you need them least. Keeping on top of these sneaky devils can be challenging, but well worth the effort in the long run.

When you’re writing the story of your pavement, keep the main character looking youthful throughout the ages with proper maintenance and attention to details…and by partnering with the best paving and concrete contractors in the industry, of course. Call Black Diamond today to help rewrite your asphalt’s story!

To Buy or Not to Buy?

Realistic wax figure of Shakespeare holds skull with Black Diamond Paving logo on it

We talk a lot on our Love2Pave blog about the steps you can take to ensure your surfaces stay in tip top shape for all of your existing properties. But our expertise in all things asphalt and concrete can be a real asset when you are considering making an acquisition as well.

The acquisition equation has a lot of parts and pieces, whether the property is large or small. Part of that decision-making is assessing the condition of the property and the intended uses and incorporating that into your bid and future plans. The sheer volume of paved surfaces in any given property means it is a real factor in future maintenance as well as a real contributor in aesthetics and ease of use for owners and tenants alike.

There are several things the experts at Black Diamond Paving & Concrete can do to help you navigate acquisitions from the very beginning, through purchase and implementation of any repairs that need to be addressed.
First, we’ll walk the property with you and do an assessment of where it hits on the Pavement Life Cycle. This will give you great insight into what you’re looking at in terms of future maintenance dollars. Every surface contains markers of where it stands on its overall life span, and breaking this down into accurate and easy language keeps current and future decision-making simple.

Second, we’ll discuss the short term and long term goals of the property. This is important when coming up with the budget going forward. Specifically, we’ll talk about investing in the conditions of your surfaces as they apply to the timeline of owning the property. The timing of future planned maintenance is also a worthy topic to explore. For instance, if the property will not be occupied during the purchase transition it may make sense to be proactive and achieve great strides before tenants are present.

Third, we’ll present our recommendations and plans to you along with a budget estimate. This information is a critical part of the file you build for the property and will act as a blueprint for work going forward for property managers as well as investors.

Once the acquisition is complete, we’ll provide a work scope with any revisions that are necessary along with a formal proposal. Then we’ll get to work doing what we do best, ensuring that your asphalt and concrete surfaces look great and serve you well for years to come.

The sum total of this knowledge means you will be well prepared to approach the purchase confidently and minimize budget surprises. As with all things surface-wise, a penny of prevention will lead to a pound of cure.

Octopuses and Concrete:
Not So Different, After All

Curly octopus legs lay on concrete background with Black Diamond Paving logo in foreground

The world of concrete innovations often seems to take on a surreal ingenuity. Take for example, the glowing concrete we wrote about a few months ago which played on what could best be described as lighting bug technology. Now, to add to the list, we introduce the concept of Bio-Concrete with self healing capabilities.

Concrete has long been lauded as a popular material due to its density and strength, as well as its unique abilities to be formed and reinforced. The biggest downfall of concrete has always been degradation due to its number one enemy, water. Enter: a way to keep the water out.

The original inspiration for self-healing concrete came to Dutch researcher and microbiologist, Hendrik Jonkers through his early career work in marine biology, specifically, the ability for octopuses and other marine life to self-heal and regenerate.

The expansion of that theme included him identifying a unique bacteria that withstands dry and alkaline environments and can remain happily dormant. This bacteria is encapsulated within 2-4mm wide clay pellets and is integrated into the concrete mix.

Additionally, a nourishing combination of nitrogen and phosphates is similarly encapsulated and incorporated in the mix. Then, their high-tech, encapsulated tiny selves just hang out and wait for things to start to crack. Because, no matter how perfect the mix, concrete eventually begins to open up with little cracks. And all those little cracks allow moisture to seep in.

When the moisture begins to permeate the structure, the capsules degrade, allowing the bacteria and the nourishing cocktail to mix. Upon mixing, it begins to transform into a limestone type material as it forms, takes in the moisture, and fills in the crack.

This magical little process takes about three weeks and can be identified across the surface as a small line or puddle-shaped color variation. As cracks form across the surface the process is repeated, sealing out the moisture and providing an impervious surface once again.

The impact of this technology, at once so complex and yet so simple, is one that will continue to transform the way the world builds and maintains infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, roadways, and dams. Also in development by Jonkers are repair mortars and liquid repair applications for this technology.

As always, we love to see how our world continues to evolve and change. In the meantime we will pair the new and exciting with our tried and true best practices when it comes to process and customer service. You can’t go wrong with that combo!

Every Crack Tells a Story

We talk a lot about the importance of regular maintenance when it comes to your paved surfaces. After all, catching problems early on is one of the best ways to get maximum life out of your asphalt, saving you money and headaches in the long run. That’s why doing a yearly visual assessment of your property can pay great dividends. But before you head out the door and start wandering across the parking lot, let’s talk about a few things to keep in mind.

There are some common signs of distress that point to underlying issues with your asphalt, and nearly all manifest themselves in an easily identifiable disruption of the surface, whether it be cracking, dipping, or holes. The following are some of the most common culprits to keep an eye out for:

Generalized Cracking

As common as dandelions, and just as pesky, these may seem random, popping up here and there across the pavement surface. They can be caused by a variety of things, including the most common of stressors: sun and moisture.

Fatigue Cracking

Characterized by an alligator skin appearance (but not suitable for making purses), these cracks tend to indicate weight overload or a poor substrate.

Block Cracking

When asphalt is unable to adequately expand and contract due to temperature variations, interconnected cracks in a rectangular shape can occur over large areas of your pavement. Like Legos, but way less fun.

Edge Cracking

Texture along the edge of an afghan is stylish and pretty. Texture along the edge of your pavement is a sign of something gone horribly wrong. Typically occurring a foot or two from the lip of your asphalt surface, edge cracks generally point to poor drainage and a lack of underlying structure along the perimeter.

Depression

A condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal, typically caused by the notable dips in one’s paved surface area. Overloading and settling of the substrate can also be key factors.

Raveling

Just as a raveling sweater leaves behind loose threads, a raveling pavement is characterized by loose debris. In the simplest of terms, this happens when the bonding agent in asphalt isn’t adequately holding the aggregate (different sized rocks) together. The result is a pavement that’s as crumbly as Grandma’s blueberry cobbler.

Potholes

Water seepage and temperature changes are the #1 and #2 enemies of asphalt (are you starting to notice that pattern?). Add the two together and throw in a healthy dose of heavy traffic, and you end up with literal holes all over your paved surfaces. If you’ve ever driven a car, we’re 97% sure you’ve hit a pothole at least once. The bane of motorists everywhere.

Some of these signs of distress can be fixed with a simple sealcoat. Others may require a more involved approach, possibly even a full replacement. At Black Diamond, we are always happy to expertly assess your surface and come up with a plan that meets your budget and needs.

Every crack tells a story. What is your pavement telling you?

Pool Projects that Go Swimmingly

You may associate Thomas Edison most closely with the harnessing of electricity and the invention of the lightbulb, but did you know that he also attempted some wild innovations in concrete? He even went so far as to patent and implement concrete homes. These structures were entirely constructed with a single pour mold that encompassed all parts of the house. The exterior and interior walls, floors, and even bath tubs were all glorious concrete.

Unfortunately, the concept didn’t go far, as the 2,300 piece mold was a bit…ahem…unwieldy for the average builder to handle. On top of that, the public wasn’t exactly clamoring to live in the houses. Perhaps it was the questionable luxury of soaking in a concrete tub? Still, think of it…an entire house built in one pour. It’s pretty incredible.

We’ve never tried our hands at concrete houses here at Black Diamond, but we do regularly undertake some pretty note-worthy concrete projects. Top amongst them is our work on pool decks (an essential feature for any California living community). Like Edison, we have a comprehensive and innovative approach to getting your pool into tip-top, splash-worthy condition…even if it might take more than one pour.

The to-do list for a pool project can seem daunting to property owners. After all it goes far beyond just the surface replacement…but that’s okay, because so do we. Not only will we do the concrete work, but we’ll coordinate with other industry professionals to ensure the entire project is done and done well, with as little hassle for you as possible. Here are just a few of the aspects we can help manage:

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

As the warmer weather approaches, a poolside lifestyle means a lot to residents, and beautiful, safe, accessible surrounds do so much to enhance the general atmosphere of your space. Think back to your last barefoot trip around the pool. Are the surface areas smooth and free of cracks and slippery areas? Do you feel comfortable that your property is up to date on ADA regulations? Is the layout conducive to people having a safe and relaxing time in a fresh, welcoming atmosphere?

If not, give us a call, and let us take on the project. You’ll be happy you did as it may even free up a little time to do some lounging on your own.

Hey Asphalt, Hold My Water

In a world that increasingly demands our natural resources be protected, there’s a lot to be said for asphalt’s nearly 100% recyclability. The life cycle of pavement creates a neat circle, beginning with crushed stone mixed with liquid asphalt and then spread along our roadways, driveways, paths and other surfaces throughout the country. When its usefulness in those places is complete, it is simply gathered and crushed, and the cycle begins again.

However, asphalt also plays a big, but lesser known, role in the conservation and treatment of water. It may seem counterintuitive that an essentially stone and petroleum-based product would be so instrumental in preserving and protecting our greatest resource, but the impervious properties are exactly right for many applications.

When you order fish for dinner you may not immediately think of asphalt. Who would? But fish hatcheries have used asphalt to their advantage for several decades. As it turns out, those little fish babies are quite susceptible to chemicals and contamination. When their water-filled playpen is lined with asphalt, those toxins can’t seep through, and the fish grow and thrive in their fresh, clean environment.

On the other side of the spectrum, industrial plants use asphalt-lined retention ponds to keep pollutants and hazardous waste IN until it can be mitigated. The strong, watertight surface of the asphalt effectively keeps contaminates out of the soil and groundwater and can also be used to cap hazardous waste.

These days, plastic and soil liners—once standard in landfills—are increasingly replaced with asphalt liners. The benefits of this switch are quite impactful. For starters, when asphalt is applied and layered with a geosynthetic fabric, it can reduce the amount of liquid making its way through the plastic and soil barrier. Former liners allowed around 140 gallons of toxic gunk per acre per day to escape. Asphalt has brought that leakage to a nearly immeasurable amount. Additionally, the longevity of asphalt liners is over 300 years longer (asphalt liners last more than 1,000 years whereas plastic/soil liners only last around 700 years).

Drinking water also benefits from the applications of asphalt. The Metropolitan District of Southern California has been using asphalt lined reservoirs for over 40 years. Asphalt makes reservoirs and dams cost effective, practical, and long lasting.

The world of asphalt is constantly evolving and changing to meet the needs of society and do it in a responsible manner. We are happy to be a part of this bigger whole and look forward to new advances in our industry that we can continue to bring to you, our customers!

Supervillains of the Asphalt Universe

Here at Black Diamond, we don’t make our employees wear capes with their uniforms, but maybe we should. They wage war every day against villains threatening the longevity of your asphalt surfaces. But who are these culprits looking to wreak havoc on your smooth and perfect pavement? Allow us to introduce the greatest offenders of all things asphalt.

Mr. Sunshine

He seems like a nice enough guy, showing up every morning like clockwork. The truth is, sunshine is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to breaking down the binder that holds together all the rocks that make up your asphalt surface. This process is chemical in nature, combining UV rays and oxygen, which work together to break the chemical ties that bind them.

To stop this villain in his tracks, look no further than a regularly scheduled sealcoat application. Sealcoat will help fill in the micro cracks and crevices, keeping your surfaces nice and shiny and offering your best defense against Mr. Sunshine’s death rays.

Ms. H2O

She saunters in at the most unexpected places, settling into dips and grooves, and she’s often a slippery one to catch. While she puddles into the corner of the parking lot you rarely visit or that little crease where the asphalt meets the sidewalk, she seeps downward into the carefully laid layers, using her erosive powers to undermine the integrity of your pavement.

Hold Ms. H2O and her evil ways at bay by performing crack sealing and sealcoating and by keeping the asphalt draining to our friendly storm system.

Mr. Heavy and the Boys

This gang rolls in acting like they own the place. Although we wouldn’t necessarily call it “dainty,” asphalt is only made to support a certain amount of weight. If overloading occurs—whether that be day-to-day heavy traffic or even just an occasional super heavyweight—the additional stress can push the upper layers past their flex point and create ruts or cracking.

You are the biggest enforcer against the incidents of heavy loads. Patrol your property carefully, post signs where necessary to limit the loads, and plan on having extra heavy vehicles park off-site when possible. If you’re planning to install new asphalt in a heavy traffic area, let us know so we can accommodate your specific needs.

We don’t like to toot our own horn too much, but we would consider ourselves asphalt superheroes. Let us help you combat these dastardly villains and allow your pavement to emerge victorious. For Black Diamond, it’s all in a day’s work!

The Future (of Roadway Lighting) is Bright

Wouldn’t things be easy if all the answers on life’s path were right there, glowing gloriously ahead of us? While life’s biggest question—“what’s for dinner?”—continues to cause daily conflict and strife, we can report exciting advances on lighting the roadways, bike paths, and sidewalks that lead to your favorite pizza place, pub, or steakhouse. 

Keeping our transportation routes illuminated is an important field of study. Nearly 20% of electricity used nationwide for commercial purposes goes towards lighting public spaces for safety. Think highway lighting, street lighting, parking lot lighting…you get the idea. 

What would happen if the materials used for such areas could emit light in a renewable fashion? 

Enter Jose Carlos Rubio, a researcher at Michoacan University of San Nicolas Hidalgo in Mexico. Rubio has found a way to alter the opaque nature of cement and turn it phosphorescent. This new cement has the ability to absorb solar energy during the day, releasing it at night for roughly 12 hours of glowing illumination. The patent for this technology was granted in 2016, and the product is in the commercialization stages now. Challenges include achieving durability, accommodating repairs, and determining whether the substance will be used as an overlay or as the entirety of the surface.

If a softly glowing road doesn’t add enough light or ambiance to your midnight road trip, maybe you’d enjoy driving by the light of trees? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working in nanotechnology applications of an enzyme called Luciferace and a molecule called Lucferin which, when combined with plant matter, makes it glow. It all sounds rather science fiction and futuristic, but it’s based on properties of something we all know and love—the good ole fashioned firefly. 

A little less fancy, but still quite practical, are advances in luminescent powders that can be used for striping and other road markings and that will glow throughout the nighttime hours. Included in those are dynamic paints which are activated under certain temperatures. For instance, snowflakes could be painted on the highway that will appear when the temperature drops below a certain point, altering drivers to the possibilities of snow or ice.

In each of these cases, the potential for vastly improving the environmental and economic challenges of lighting the outdoors is significant. Poorer countries who struggle to maintain reliable electricity options would benefit greatly. Light pollution would be mitigated and the draw on resources such as electricity would be lessened as well.

Unfortunately, none of these options are quite ready for commercial use, but you can be sure we keep up-to-date with the latest and greatest in concrete and paving technology! Give us a call—we have a glowing reputation!

Finding a Contractor is Easy as 1-2-3-4-5

When considering a major asphalt upgrade or maintenance project for your residential or retail property, it may seem daunting to find a contractor who is right for the job. Although there are many contractors who are willing to give quotes, how do you pick the one that is right for your property and budget?

There are 5 questions to keep in mind while seeking that perfect contractor. Having them at the ready as you acquire quotes will streamline the decision making process and ensure that you find the right match.

1. Will they meet you to do a site visit?

When contemplating a big project, be sure to request that the contractor meet you at the property to make an on-site assessment. You can learn a lot about the company’s professionalism, knowledgeability, and general ability through an in-person meeting. A site visit also allows for an accurate assessment of any special needs your property may have—the fewer surprises once your project is under way, the better.

2. Will they provide a detailed description of the work scope?

In order to know exactly what you’re paying for, you will need to know specifics such as: square footage, number of repair locations, thickness of asphalt, seal coat layers, whether striping is included or not, number of days the project is scheduled for, days of the week they’ll be working, among other details. Also, make sure to request a site map for pavement locations and dimensions of each repair.

The proposal should reflect the discussions you had during and after your on-site meeting. If something isn’t clear, do not be bashful about getting clarity. This will help you and the contractor make sure your expectations are met completely.

3. Do they offer a maintenance plan?

A good asphalt contractor will be there for you, not just during the initial installation, but for years to come. Routine maintenance is essential to ensuring your surface has a long life and keeps its beautiful appearance. Discussing future maintenance needs now will allow you to keep things budget-friendly going forward and eliminate surprises.

4. Do they have good referrals and lots of experience?

A reputable contractor will be able to give you examples of their previous work. Drive by properties in the area that the company has done, or pick up the phone and make a few calls. Check to be sure the company’s insurance, bonding, and licensing is up to date as well. A word about experience: the relationship with your asphalt and concrete contractor will be measured in decades, so pay attention to how established they are in the community. You want them to be around for the long haul.

5. What’s in the contract?

A written contract is vital to finalizing the right choice for your needs. It should include the general terms, materials, and any warranty. Be sure to read it carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Now that you have the 5 big questions ready to go, begin by making a call to Black Diamond Paving! With experienced, relationship-driven employees, decades of experience, and a 97% satisfaction rating from Diamond Certified, we check off all the boxes.

Sealcoating: It’s All in a Day’s Work

If you’re like many property managers, you spend most days walking and driving across your property’s surfaces with little regard to the surface itself. That is, until you notice a few cracks next to your favorite parking spot or that bit of sidewalk which has started to crumble.

At this point, a little Asphalt Denial may slip in. We know you have a full to-do list, and pavement maintenance can seem daunting, making it easier to procrastinate. But before you begin to dread the hassle, remember that providing regular maintenance is even easier than stepping over those cracks in a pair of heels.

One of the most important steps in keeping your parking lot in top condition is sealcoating. During a sealcoating application an asphalt emulsion (liquid asphalt emulsified in water) is applied in thin coats, which protect the surface from a variety of outside forces such as water, gasoline, oils, and damage from the sun. Our careful attention to detail in preparation of the sealcoat extends the life of the asphalt and helps eliminate costly measures down the road.

Check out this video to see how the sealcoat is applied.

Before we apply a sealcoat, we will carefully clean, sweep, and inspect the entire area. Next we fill and repair cracks with crack sealer. Crack sealing, a process all its own, involves cleaning the cracks with hot pressurized air and then filling them in with a hot rubberized filler.

To see crack sealing in action, watch this video.

Once the surface preparation and sealcoat layers are applied, the materials must cure before traffic can be allowed on the surface. If your property has people coming and going on a regular basis, this may seem difficult to manage. Never fear—we take all of your property’s needs into consideration while planning out the project.

And we even manage the hassle of communicating details of the project with your residents and tenants! My Paving Project, accessed under the Project Gallery tab on our website, offers updates and color-coded mapping specific to your property. We also make sure our project consultants are readily available—both to you and your tenants—to help with any questions or issues that arise during the course of the project.

The shiny dark surface you’ll have after sealcoating is more than just a pretty facade. The black surface absorbs heat, making the surface more pliable and better able to withstand vehicular traffic. The waterproofing aspects mean that moisture will not easily find its way underneath the surface, and by evening out surface voids, it will also be beautifully smooth and easy to clean. Sealcoating also makes for easy navigation, as any lines and markings will contrast nicely against the black.

Now that you’ve read through the steps and watched a few videos, are you ready to pick up the phone and give us a call? Our friendly paving experts can help determine the proper plan of action for your needs and budget, making doing the right thing for your property easy as can be.