Asphalt Drying Time vs. Curing Time

If you are about to have a new parking lot installed, you may be wondering how long does asphalt take to cure. It is important to understand that there is a difference between asphalt curing time, and asphalt drying time. While asphalt takes approximately one year to fully cure, you can typically walk/drive on your new parking lot within 2-3 days. 

How Long Does Asphalt Take To Cure?

  • how long does asphalt take to cure, asphalt dry timeAs mentioned above, it can take up to a full year for asphalt to cure, but within about 30 days your asphalt is cured to a point where it can be sealed.
  • In very simple terms, cured asphalt means it has fully hardened.
  • As asphalt cures, it slowly changes from black to grayish. This is because the asphalt is slowly losing its oils due to sun (called oxidation).
  • While this process of oxidation may sound like a bad thing, it is actually good. Excess oils in asphalt can lead to a “power steering tear” which is the scraping up of portions of your new asphalt surface due to wheel rotation. 

How Long Does Asphalt Take To Dry?

  • Different from curing time, drying time is typically 48-72 hours after application. 
  • This means after this drying time, it is safe for foot and vehicle traffic without damage. 
  • Since it is not 100 percent cured, however, be extra cautious of hazardous spills and/or extremely heavy traffic load.

Applying Asphalt Sealer To A New Parking Lot –

  • how long does asphalt take to cure, sealing a new parking lotAsphalt sealer cannot be applied to your newly installed asphalt parking lot immediately.
  • If applied too soon after installation, you can halt the oxidation process, leaving too much oil retained in your asphalt. 
  • Typically, for a commercial lot, it is recommended to wait at least 30 days before sealcoating your new parking lot.
  • Waiting too long to seal your lot, or deciding to avoid sealing altogether can lead to the asphalt losing too much of its oil which can cause premature cracking and deterioration. 
  • You can learn more about how long it takes for the sealer to dry from our blog about Asphalt Sealing. 

Weather Impacts On Asphalt Drying Time –

  1. Humidity: Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. Naturally, the more moisture present in the air, the less absorbent the air is, leading to slower drying time for your asphalt. If the humidity is above 90%, sealer or paint should not be applied due to the saturation of the air.
  2. Temperature: Temperature refers to both ambient and surface temperatures. “Ambient” refers to the temperature of the air, while “surface” is the temperature of the application surface itself. The higher the temperature, the faster the evaporation, and thus dry time. However, if the temperature is too high, it can lead to hyper evaporation which can cause application problems.
  3. Sunlight: As you can probably imagine, sunlight plays a big role in the quickness of drying time. Sunlight creates and renews heat. So, a day with less sunlight means less renewal of heat, resulting in slower drying time.
  4. Wind: If there is no airflow, there can be a high percentage of moisture right on the surface. But if there is a breeze —even as slow at 3 to 5 MPH— these water molecules are blown away from the surface. This leads to less saturated air right above the surface, enhancing the evaporation process and reducing dry time. 

The Difference

To properly understand the answer to the question “How long does asphalt take to cure”, you first need to understand the difference between asphalt curing time, and asphalt drying time. Curing time refers to the molecules fusing together and to the oxidation process, whereas, asphalt dry time refers to when your new asphalt can endure foot and vehicle traffic without damage. Ensuring that you take the right steps to protect your new asphalt after the application process is essential in determining its lifespan and speed of wear. 

If your parking lot needs new asphalt or asphalt repairs, contact EastCoat Pavement Services today for your free asphalt consultation! 

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