The simple answer to “can I have my asphalt paving done in winter” is no. But the exact “cutoff date” for asphalt paving is really dependent on the ground. Simply put, if the ground is frozen, asphalt paving should not occur. If the temperature outside is below freezing, but the ground is not yet frozen, you can likely still get away with asphalt paving.
Here is why you cannot lay pavement when the ground is frozen:
- Asphalt that is used for paving arrives on the job site extremely hot.
- If this hot asphalt is then poured on a frozen surface, the asphalt will immediately begin to stiffen/freeze up.
- This means that the asphalt cannot be rolled and compacted properly.
- If for some reason the asphalt is able to be rolled to the appropriate grade while the ground is frozen, this will likely result in a finished product of poor quality leading to very early deterioration.
- The aggregate material within the asphalt will not be firmly packed due to the stiffening caused by application to a frozen ground, which will result in stones loosening quite quickly.
If just the temperature is very cold and/or below freezing but the ground has not yet frozen, asphalt will not have the same hardening effect it does when touching a frozen surface. Since the air does not largely impact asphalt as the ground temperature does, asphalt paving can likely be achieved to the proper grade and level of compaction through to the first week or so of December. This is why most asphalt paving contractors (depending on the season & location) close up shop at the end of November or very early December.
If your paving project can wait until spring, this is likely the wiser (safer) option, even if the ground is not yet frozen to avoid unnecessary premature deterioration.
The most important thing to be doing to your asphalt now (late November) is preparing it for winter by:
- Crack Filling – Cracks are the leading cause of base deterioration. Filling them before winter (when the presence of snow and water will be abundant) is key in preserving your asphalt.
- Pothole repair – Potholes often show after winter due to its harshness and the freeze-thaw cycle. But, going into winter with an existing pothole will lead to larger damages come spring. Once the ground is frozen, cold patches are one of the very few options and they are a very temporary fix.
- Repainting your parking lot stripes – This helps to ensure extra safety in winter allowing important traffic guidelines to stand out better in snowfalls.
- Inspection & Cleanup – Before heading into winter, it is key to inspect your parking lot and assess any imperfections or damages, making note of which issues need attention now, and what can wait until spring. Cleaning your pavement prior to winter is necessary to avoid adding any additional obstacles to the already challenging snow season. Broken pieces of asphalt and curbing should be removed, as well as any other unnecessary items that are currently on your pavement that can be an obstruction for plowing.