How Changes in Temperature Affect Asphalt in Central Oregon

Asphalt is affected by the weather, which is why different types of asphalt can be installed for different climates. This poses some unique challenges with Central Oregon’s hot summers and cold winters. Here’s what everyone should about how our weather matters, and what that means for important asphalt projects.

Cold Weather in Central Oregon and Asphalt

Central Oregon sees freezing temperatures throughout winter (and usually parts of fall and spring as well). Particularly low-temperature freezing conditions can cause asphalt to contract in on itself, and weak asphalt may pull apart and form cracks as a result.

The other danger of freezing temperatures is any moisture around, beneath, or inside asphalt. This moisture can come from underground or melting snow and ice seeping into asphalt cracks. When this water freezes as night temperatures drop, it expands and “heaves” the asphalt, causing serious ruptures and tears.

So, how does residential and commercial asphalt installation deal with these serious winter challenges? The first step is making sure the substrate beneath the asphalt is properly prepared and that drainage both above and below the asphalt is designed so that moisture does not linger. If asphalt is being installed during cold weather, the paving contractor will also use different mixes and steps to help the asphalt cure properly: Generally, if the temperatures are falling to near freezing, it’s not the right time for an asphalt project.

If asphalt does experience damage from winter conditions, it’s important to find asphalt repair in Central Oregon and patch it quickly! Cracks and deterioration will become much worse over time with freezing weather. Sealcoats and some other approaches can also help asphalt weather cold winters more easily. Proper maintenance, like quickly clearing away snow and keeping asphalt clean, will also have an important impact.

Hot Weather in Central Oregon and Asphalt

Central Oregon sees hot, dry summers with temperatures rising into the 90s by August, very different conditions from the cold, snowy winters. This poses a separate kind of challenge to asphalt.

First, the frequent sunny days of our region expose asphalt to lots of UV radiation. This can encourage a chemical reaction in the asphalt where light and heavy oils combine and the binding components of the asphalt start to fail, making the asphalt brittle and subject to more cracking.

Second, if the asphalt is exposed to very high temperatures over time, especially without a proper top coating, bits of it can start to come apart and adhere to other things, like shoes or tries. This is called tracking – fortunately, the dry heat of Central Oregon isn’t as likely to cause tracking, but it’s still something to be aware of.

Finally, the heat itself can damage asphalt over time, and may cause cracks or cause existing cracks to grow worse.

The solution is finding the right combination of asphalt mix and top coating to help asphalt weather the summers. This often means planning for a high SRI, or solar reflectance index, which allows asphalt to reflect more heat instead of absorbing it. It’s also important to patch any cracks that appear before they can cause problems.

Are you looking for professional driveway paving in Central Oregon, or a project built specifically for local weather conditions? Contact Tri County Paving today to learn more or get a fast quote from our experienced asphalt paving team in Central Oregon!

7 Steps in the Asphalt Paving Process in Central Oregon

What exactly happens during the asphalt installation process? Here’s exactly what to expect with each step from your asphalt paving company in Central Oregon! When planning and scheduling your next asphalt project, these steps may also help you make the best decisions.

1. Preparing the Surface for Asphalt

First, the surface needs to be ready for asphalt. If we are replacing an existing asphalt layer, then it will have to be broken apart and completely hauled away. Even without an existing surface, the ground will still need to be broken apart and leveled: With our rocky Central Oregon earth, this often means removing many rocks and boulders at the same time. It’s is a labor-intensive part of the process that can require heavy machinery, so it’s important to work out the details ahead of time regarding noise and space!

However, leveling the surface is only the first step. Once a stable ground layer has been created, it needs to be carefully sculpted so that it slopes in the right direction for water runoff. Standing water is one of the worst things for asphalt, so it’s important that the surface encourages water to drain away. Powerful motor graders help complete this process.

2. Installing the Sub Base

With the grading complete, it’s time to get the surface ready for the first layers of the asphalt. The starting layer is called the sub base, an aggregate which is carefully applied, compacted, and measured to make sure all the angles are just right. A good sub base isn’t just vital for installation: It can also help protect the asphalt from any ground frost that may creep up during the chilly Central Oregon winters.

3. Completing the Proof Roll

After the sub base is compared and measures, the team will usually do a proof roll to secure the sub base and check for any problems. This simply means rolling over the layer with a very heavy vehicle to check how it responds. If the sub base falls apart, shows depressions, or develops other problems, then it needs to be repaired, compacted, and measure again until all of the flaws are (literally) ironed out.

4. Adding the Binder

The binding agent is the layer that the asphalt clings to. It provides a very important base and must be extremely durable with just the right mixture. Most binder layers are created from a mix of oil and aggregate that’s carefully compacted to be as sturdy as possible.

5. Adding the Top Asphalt Layer

Finally, the heated mixture of asphalt is applied across the binder as the top layer. This is where paving machines and rollers play a key role in flattening and compacting the asphalt before it has time to cure. The asphalt will spend some time drying, during in which it cannot be used. If you are doing asphalt repair in Central Oregon, where the new asphalt layer is installed against an older asphalt section, this is also the period where the seams are carefully bonded together with asphalt patches to prevent any cracks in the future.

In some cases when asphalt may need special protection, a top sealcoat is also added to the finished installation so that the surface is ready for tough conditions.

If you need any advice or want to schedule a project, we’re happy to help. Contact Tri County Paving for driveway paving in Central Oregon and many other asphalt installation projects!

What’s the Right Type of Asphalt Mix for Central Oregon?

While different types of asphalt may have similar appearances, there are actually several different “mixes” or combinations of materials and processes that asphalt can be made of. These mixes vary so that can professionals can match the mix to local conditions like weather, temperatures, and how much stress the asphalt will be under.
In Central Oregon, asphalt needs to withstand both hot summers and freezing winters, which is why high-quality asphalt mixes and installation are so important in the area. Let’s do a quick rundown of different mixes, how they’re made, and what works best for conditions around Bend Oregon.

Hot Mix Asphalt

Hot mix asphalt is created and heated up to 300 to 500 degrees during preparation. This mix can be more demanding to create and transport – asphalt needs to be kept hot until it is applied – but it also has many advantages. The high heat allows the aggregates (like sand or gravel) to bond very firmly, and the overall mixture is highly durable. Hot mix asphalt also cools down very quickly, so it’s a good idea for fast installations.

The durability of hot mix asphalt makes it a particularly good choice for climates with a lot of temperature changes – it’s a good match for Central Oregon’s summers and winters. The extra durability helps withstand damage from studded tires, and the hot mix is particularly good at allowing contractions and expansions without
Because of these qualities, hot mix asphalt is a good fit for commercial paving in Central Oregon, and is a common recommendation for parking lots and roads. Residential asphalt paving contractors in Central Oregon may also recommend it for driveways and other private projects that need to stand the test of time.

Performance Grade

Asphalt can also be identified by performance grade or “PG.” This is a number that specifically refers to the binding chemicals used in the asphalt mix. Different binder combinations can make asphalt more resistant to cold weather, or more durable over time so it doesn’t need to be replaced as often.
PG ratings are especially useful for large commercial projects, because they indicate what precise type of mix is appropriate for specific regions. For example, in Central and Eastern Oregon above 2,500 feet elevation, PG 64-28 is recommended for rural highways, and PG 76-28 is recommended for critical urban highways. These official recommendations are very useful as starting points for what precise asphalt PG level to use in Central Oregon.

Other Mixes

The two other common asphalt mixes are warm mix and cold mix. Warm mix asphalt is made at far lower temperatures, which saves lots of energy and expense during production, and it can be placed in a wider range of temperatures. Warm mix asphalt isn’t as durable as hot mix and must be placed carefully to avoid problems, but it’s better for the environment and generally easier to work with. Asphalt services may recommend it for private projects, especially when backed up with a driveway sealcoating to help prevent damage over time. Cold mix asphalt, on the other hand, is typically used only for patching and temporary repairs, and is not designed for long-lasting projects.

damaged asphalt in Oregon on a rainy day

8 Types of Asphalt Damage in Central Oregon

Asphalt is a popular choice in Central Oregon because of how durable the surface can be – when mixed and installed correctly. However, poor asphalt installation and other issues with our seasonal weather changes can cause problems. Here are some of the most common repair issues we’ve seen with asphalt paving in Central Oregon, and why they cause trouble.

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How Long Does an Asphalt Driveway Last in Oregon?

Asphalt driveways are an alternative for many areas of Central Oregon that have some built-in advantages for the weather here. Let’s go over what you should know!

Living in the high desert means enjoying big seasonal changes: Hot summers and snowy winters are both expected. Residential and commercial driveways, however, don’t appreciate these changes as much as the people do. The cycles of freezing and thawing in winter cause water to seep into cracks in the pavement and then expand when it freezes, forcing those cracks apart and shortening the lifespan of many driveways.

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