An overlay, as its name implies, is simply a new pavement section (generally 1.5″ – 2″ thick) placed over the top of an existing pavement surface. Kind of like a nice tablecloth placed on the dining room table to hide all those dings and divots from rogue utensils and hot serving dish mishaps. In fact, oftentimes overlays incorporate fabric interlayers to help act as a moisture barrier and reduce reflective cracking from the original surface into the new overlay.
Typically, overlays are done in Stage 4 or 5 of the pavement’s life cycle—they should be seen as more of a face-lift than a rebirth. With the proper application, an overlay can build on what you’ve already invested in your road or parking lot and can extend the functional life of the pavement surface by 15 years or more.