When it comes to driveways, many homeowners prefer asphalt paving for its consistent appearance, durability, and affordable cost. Throughout much of the year, asphalt can withstand all weather conditions. However, when winter arrives, a driveway can become unusable due to years of damage caused by freeze-thaw cycles. To understand what this is, how it affects asphalt, and what you can do to protect your driveway, take a look at the useful guide below.

How a Freeze-Thaw Cycle Damages Asphalt

A freeze-thaw cycle occurs when temperatures fluctuate back and forth around the freezing point, or 32 degrees. When the temperature is above freezing, water will seep into tiny cracks and pores in asphalt paving. When the temperature drops back down, this moisture will freeze and expand, forcing cracks to grow and weakening the paved surface.

Once the water thaws again, it can spread deeper within the pavement, and the cycle repeats. If it penetrates far enough, ice and frost can even degrade the foundation beneath a driveway and cause soil to settle, weakening the pavement even further.

Tips for Protecting Your Asphalt Driveway

asphalt paving

The first step to protect asphalt from freeze-thaw cycles is to ensure that it’s properly graded when laid down. Asphalt should have a slope of at least 2% to help it drain off as much water as possible and minimize the risk of saturation.

After installation, the most effective way to protect an asphalt driveway is to have it sealcoated every two to three years. There are many varieties of asphalt sealcoating, the most common of which is coal tar emulsion, a mixture of coal tar, water, emulsifying agents, and additives. When applied to asphalt, sealcoating forms a protective, watertight layer that can substantially reduce or eliminate the risk of cracking and spalling.

Finally, if you find any cracks in your driveway, you can limit the spread of damage by having them repaired and resealed as quickly as possible.


Keep your asphalt driveway in great condition this winter with help from the experts at Guarco Construction in Granby, CT. In business since 1974, this family-owned and -operated company can help with everything from asphalt paving to snow removal. Call these fully licensed and insured contractors at (860) 278-5558, or visit them online for more information on their services.