Autumn is winding down, and it’s no secret that the impending winter weather adds an extra layer of difficulty for contractors to address. As temperatures drop, keeping cold-weather pavement maintenance practices top-of-mind can help ensure optimal care for asphalt properties and a safe and successful application process.

Evaluate the Risk
Low temperatures often cause the particles in pavement coating emulsions to stiffen, preventing the particles from flowing together as necessary for proper adhesion when applied to the asphalt surface. As a rule, temperatures must remain at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher throughout the application and entire drying process. Professionals who do not follow weather guidelines risk project failure. Knowing this in advance, pavement maintenance professionals can appropriately watch the weather forecast before finalizing the schedule of any sealcoating job.

Optimize Exposure to Sunlight
Temperatures often fluctuate during the autumn months and finding a time period that’s warm enough to execute the entire sealcoating process may be challenging. Luckily, exposure to direct sunlight can speed up the drying and curing process, allowing professionals to apply treatment before the outside air becomes too chilly. On the flip side, shorter fall days provide fewer opportunities for light exposure, so it is especially important to maximize what sunlight is available. In addition, the angle of the sun often creates shade on the northern sides of buildings during the autumn, increasing the drying time needed in these particular areas. It’s important to consider how sun patterns may shift across the pavement property throughout the day when planning the best course of action.

Expedite Drying Time
When clouds, buildings and other obstacles limit direct sunlight on a job site, contractors can rely on other methods for facilitating faster drying times. Lowering the dilution rate of mix design can expedite the process. Drying agents can also be added. This is especially beneficial for sealcoating jobs on properties that must be reopened to traffic quickly. For larger projects, it’s best to complete work in sections to allow each area an ample amount of time to dry and cure prior to reopening the lot.

Keeping the above risk factors and application tips in mind can help pavement maintenance professionals make informed decisions regarding late-season sealcoating. When evaluating the situation, remaining transparent with customers every step along the way will build trust and avoid potential frustrations if there is no choice but to delay a project. Through transparency, property owners will also quickly come to trust and respect the contractor’s final decision on sealcoating timing, as these recommendations often lead to a better final result.

Pavement Coatings Technology Council