Not to insult the state of Colorado – but its soil is cruddy. Colorado is home to brutal winds, active geological events, ice, and much more. All those elements take their toll on Colorado’s topsoil which creates unique challenges from installing gardens to laying down new asphalt.
When installing or replacing asphalt you need proper soil and a proper base which usually doesn’t exist on its own in Colorado. For the proper asphalt pour you need a base that’s strong, drains correctly, and has the right consistency. Asphalt and concrete contractors like our crew at Colorado Pavement Solutions (CPS) get the right base through asphalt stabilization.
Let’s learn more about CPS’s asphalt stabilization process including its importance and what types of techniques are used to create the perfect base for asphalt. You already know asphalt is engineered before it’s poured but let’s learn how the base is engineered too.
What is Asphalt Stabilization?
In simple terms, asphalt stabilization is the process of preparing a base for proper asphalt installation. In more complex terms, stabilization is permanently altering the physical or chemical composition of soils to enhance their natural capabilities. Asphalt stabilization involves both physical and chemical means to improve the soil and surface of the area being used for asphalt.
Physical Asphalt Stabilization
Physical stabilization uses good-old fashioned elbow grease (and some pro tools) to prepare the base for asphalt. Asphalt contractors use several types of tools including jackhammers, steamrollers, tampers, pavement shredders, and more to break up soil, compact it, or shake it into settling.
During many replacements, a portion of the previous asphalt is left behind, crushed, then mixed with aggregate and fresh asphalt to create a new stable base that recycles some of your previous pavement.
Chemical Asphalt Stabilization
Chemical stabilization is using additives like lime or cement to further strengthen an area before pouring new asphalt. Additives mix with natural clay and other components in the soil to start a chemical hardening process that will keep your base solids for years. Paving professionals don’t always use chemical stabilization but will if it will helps build a better base.
The CPS Asphalt Stabilization Process
- Testing and Planning – Laying asphalt is a carefully engineered and planned process. That process begins with site soil testing and other methods. Once CPS knows what they’re up against, we can decide on the best next steps.
- Pulverizing – Portions of previous asphalt are normally left behind as substrate for the new base. How much previous asphalt depends on the job, types of soil present, and goal of the finished product.
- Compaction – CPS uses steamrollers, compactors, and other physical methods to move, shake, and smash the new base into place
- More Testing – After the new base is stabilized CPS will perform more tests.
- Ready for New Pavement – Once the base passes all stabilization measures and tests, you’re ready for new asphalt.
What If You Don’t Stabilize Asphalt?
You can’t dump asphalt on a flat surface and hope that everything works out. If you don’t stabilize the base your asphalt will face many issues including:
- Minor and major cracking – A poor base will encourage cracks to form quickly instead of years down the road. With poor stabilization you might see major cracks running the length of your new pavement or dozens of small cracks.
- Sunken asphalt – Portions or whole slabs can sink if not stabilized properly. In some cases, you can push concrete slabs back into place but that’s difficult with asphalt. Sunken asphalt creates hazards for people, vehicles, and will need to be replaced immediately.
- Chipping at edges – Poorly poured asphalt will chip and fall apart at the edges when those edges should remain strong for years. A properly stabilized base provides the support the edges and borders of your asphalt needs.
- Potholes – Potholes are a major pain to deal with and can quickly create angry visitors. If your asphalt professional doesn’t create a good base, you’ll be filing in potholes all year.
If you hire the cheapest bidder to pour your asphalt you’re paying for a cheap stabilization and a poor overall job. Only hire a certified contractor like CPS or you could be re-doing the entire job much sooner than you want to.
Using Local Companies for Stabilization
Hiring an experienced local contractor for asphalt is important for many reasons but one not talked about is local company’s familiarity with local soil. Colorado is home to several types of soils and substrates which takes a local hand with years of experience to judge correctly. It’s easy to hire a large paving conglomerate for the cheap price but without tons of local experience you’re unlikely to get a good, finished job.
If you need help with your asphalt parking lot or know it’s time to replace, give CPS a call today. We’ll put our years of experience together to thoroughly test, stabilize, and give you a perfect finished product.