The Pavement Life Cycle

Asphalt pavements, like everything, have a life cycle.

They start out new, they age, and eventually they decline to the point where they need to be replaced. How long pavement lasts depends on a variety of factors, including how well they are constructed initially, the weather, the amount and weight of traffic, and—most importantly—how well they are maintained.

A well-constructed asphalt pavement that experiences low levels of traffic can last 25 years or more. That life can be substantially extended—and provide a greater return on your pavement investment—if proper maintenance is performed on a regular, timely basis. Maintenance options are outlined in detail, complete with photos, in our Saving the Paving Handbooks, but the most-common maintenance options are sealcoating, crack sealing, patch paving, and asphalt overlay.

While it’s essential to have a contractor evaluate your pavement to determine its specific maintenance needs, a pavement’s life cycle falls into five broad stages. Determining where you fall in the life cycle is a fairly straightforward process, and using these five stages you can get some idea of the types of maintenance you will need.


Stage 1

New Pavement

Little or no maintenance required

Stage 2

Initial Preventive Maintenance Phase 

Typical maintenance procedures include initial sealcoating, crack sealing

Stage 3

Minor Repairs and Continued Preventive Maintenance

Typical maintenance procedures include some patch repairs, crack sealing, second sealcoating

Stage 4

Major Repairs

Typical maintenance procedures include extensive patching repairs, asphalt overlay, third sealcoating

Stage 5

Extensive Repairs or Complete Reconstruction

Typical maintenance procedures include major repairs throughout the community or complete removal and replacement of the asphalt


Watch our “Pavement Life Cycle” video

Want to talk more about the lifecycle of your property’s pavement?