An Overview of How Weather Affects Asphalt

March 7, 2020

Weather can affect just about every outdoor surface, and asphalt is no exception. Long-term exposure to the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun can result in deterioration of the material, and exposure to heavy rain, sleet, snow and ice will only hasten that degradation. When moisture gets down into the asphalt, it can wreak havoc in a hurry, especially over the course of the annual freezing and thawing cycles.

Here’s a closer look at some of the ways in which weather will affect your asphalt in Nashville, TN and potentially necessitate some repairs.

Temperature changes

In areas where the temperature rises and falls to extreme cold and hot levels throughout the year, you’re likely to see some resulting damage to your asphalt pavement. The shifts in temperature cause the asphalt to expand and contract. The surface may even begin to curl if the material is especially rigid.

Older forms of asphalt binder grading systems did not make themselves flexible enough to account for these temperature shifts. This meant that the pavement was more likely to expand when the temperature increased, and then contract when the temperature lowered. To a certain degree, contraction and expansion aren’t necessarily something you need to be concerned about, but frequent significant shifts in temperature can result in some failure of the structural integrity of the pavement. This means you’re likely to see some large cracks, uneven surfaces and buckling.

In addition, if there’s a big difference between the temperatures in the lower and upper portions of the surfaces within slabs, the slab itself can curl. Its movement will be kept in check somewhat by the weight of the slab and its support by the sub-base, but that will only create more stresses, particularly when the upper portion of the slab is at an especially high temperature.


If asphalt is to be protected from long-term moisture damage, it must have proper drainage in place. Water can cause some significant damage to just about any material if left to sit for too long, and if asphalt doesn’t drain properly, the moisture will begin to erode the material. This means you must spend some time creating a proper design for your asphalt surface to ensure good drainage and minimize damage caused by heavy rains.

If the asphalt does get damaged by moisture, it will usually result in cracking, stripping, rutting and raveling, among other forms of distress. Water that gets down into the pavement’s structure gets absorbed by the pavement and wears away at the materials from underneath, and that’s when you start to see potholes form. Therefore, always make sure you’ve developed a proper structural design before you start laying down your asphalt.

This is just some of the information you need to take into consideration when planning a new asphalt surface at your home or business. For more information about how weather affects asphalt in Nashville, TN, contact the team at RoadBuilders today. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about our services.

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