The Asphalt Life Cycle

Why The Asphalt Life Cycle Matters

You know what they say: All good things must come to an end. Well, the same is true for your asphalt. Whether you’re maintaining an asphalt parking lot, driveway, or road, you’ll definitely see some natural degradation over time. But before we get into specifics of how your asphalt evolves, let’s explain why you should care.


Knowing the asphalt life cycle helps you do a bit of financial planning. Let’s say you manage an HOA, own a retail location, or just purchased a commercial property. Replacing the asphalt is a significant expense. And if you’re completely blindsided by that expense, you can find yourself in a pretty tricky spot. But if you know what’s on the horizon, you can always set aside the money little by little.


You can extend the life of your asphalt significantly by doing all of the recommended maintenance. The nature of that maintenance, of course, is informed by the asphalt life cycle. So, understanding the evolution of your pavement can help you give it the right kind of attention. Performing the regular maintenance is the best way to make your asphalt last as it was designed to do.

Deciding Between Asphalt and Concrete

Let’s say you need to replace your parking lot. You’re torn between asphalt and concrete, so you go out and get quotes for each one. Well, those two numbers don’t really mean anything until you’ve put them both into context. Knowing the life cycles of each option helps you estimate how long the surface will last and, further, how much it will cost per year. This is a huge part of making an apples-to-apples comparison.

Buying and Selling Real Estate

Here’s another hypothetical situation: You’re about to buy a property, and you really love two locations. But there’s one glaring difference. The first location has a brand-new parking lot, while the second location needs their’s replaced next year. That variable represents a huge financial swing. And the asphalt life cycle helped you spot it.

Bracing Yourself Emotionally

Your parking lot has served you well but eventually, it’s time to say goodbye. You don’t want that to be a sudden realization. Knowing the asphalt life cycle helps you predict the future and it allows you to anticipate and plan for it.

The Phases of the Asphalt Life Cycle

Bar chart showing the pavement life cycle; excellent at 0-5 years, Very Good at 5-7 years, Good at 7-15 years, Poor at 15-25 years, and Failed at 25-35 years

The nice thing about the evolution of your asphalt is that it breaks out cleanly into a few distinct phases. And each of those phases comes with its own needs. Below is a summary of the stages of the asphalt life cycle, as well as what you can expect during each.

Stage 1 – New Pavement (0 – 5 years)

If you’ve invested in a great paving job, the first five years should be pretty smooth sailing. You can expect little to no issues and little to no maintenance. You might want to start setting aside a little bit of money for maintenance, but otherwise there’s very little action required.

Stage 2 – Preventive Maintenance (5 – 7 years)

After your asphalt celebrates its fifth birthday, you’ll want to start performing routine maintenance. That maintenance includes sealcoating, which protects your surface from water, oils, and sun damage. It also includes some minor crack sealing, if necessary.

Stage 3 – Minor Repairs (7 – 15 years)

About seven years in, you’ll start to notice a little bit of wear and tear. This is perfectly normal and comes from exposure to the elements. You might need to do some patching. You’ll also have to revisit some of the sealcoating and crack sealing from the prior stage.

Stage 4 – Major Repairs (15 – 25 years)

After two decades, your asphalt will show signs of wear. That’s pretty impressive staying power, but by this point, it’s getting a little bit “long in the tooth.” That means you’re in for some major repairs, more extensive patching, and an asphalt overlay. Towards the beginning of this phase, you’ll want to start setting aside some money for its eventual replacement.

Stage 5 – Extensive Repairs or Complete Reconstruction (25 – 35 years)

You’ve had a great run, but your asphalt is finally headed into its twilight years. You can expect extensive maintenance, so now is when you’ll need to get strategic. Ask yourself when it’s time to stop repairing and start replacing. A professional can help you make that determination.

Your asphalt is an investment. And you obviously want to be a great steward of that investment. The best way to do that is by understanding the asphalt life cycle. It helps you budget, provide the required maintenance, and prolong the life of your pavement. Black Diamond is always happy to assess your situation. So, if you run an HOA, an apartment community, a nonprofit, or a retail or commercial property, reach out today for more info.

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