Paving Options


Imagine walking into a neighbor's home to see the new ceramic tile he has installed. So far, so good. However, in this case, the neighbor has put the new ceramic tile directly on top of existing deep pile carpet. Such a horrid scene of uneven and wobbly substrate is easy to visualize.

In an effort to assist property managers and board members, I offer the following terminology in order to familiarize them with asphalt maintenance:

Getting up to speed demands nothing more than a willingness to learn. When 11 of the 17 communities at Riverbridge in West Palm Beach, joined forces last year to contract for road paving, education came first. Three different contractors came in to present processes, says Joan Bramm, president of the board of Hammocks Trail at Riverbridge.

An important consideration for Joan and her colleagues was to not limit options in the future. Whichever sort of road improvement was done, they wanted it to be long lasting and provide flexibility for subsequent repairs and maintenance. Assured that it retained the option of putting down a sealer later, the community ultimately decided to apply PDC - Pavement Dressing Conditioner Asphalt Rejuvenator to its 13-15 year old asphalt.

Next to roofs, roads are generally the most expensive capitol expenditure for communities. Of course, the paving requirements extend well beyond roads to patios, decks and pool areas.

Once a paving choice is made, an experienced contractor ensures the job is done correctly. Otherwise, mistakes can be costly in multiple ways. Uneven pavement anywhere in the community becomes a liability issue. On masonry around pools, coping is essential to reduce slippery areas and prevent seepage that can degrade structures. 

Pavement and Prudence

A covering applied over the surface of a road or outdoor area constitutes a pavement. It can be concrete, brick, asphalt, macadam or any other sort of adhering application. Although roads and footpaths are sometimes covered with wood, natural fiber is usually not labeled a pavement.

Most communities make choices from an array that excludes concrete (too expensive) and wood (too expensive, too weak for heavy road traffic). Still, they have to consider much more than whether they are using brick or asphalt, such as what lies under the pavement and whether to add sealers like acrylics.

"There isn't a one-size-fits-all option",  says Asphalt Restoration Technology. "The real issue in paving is preparation, getting ready for the overlay. We would also recommend good, quality repairs to be made before the overlay."

"Patches often look like short-term cost-savers for aging pavement, but they are anything but. Putting on a patch of asphalt that is one-to-one and one-half inches thick allows milling and leads to toe-catching bumps. If someone trips and falls, or the patch pops out on a super-hot day, it immediately becomes a less-than-good economic decision."

An association needs to be able to think of the project 15-20 years out, the bigger picture. Most are only thinking five or ten years out."

The prudent course Joans community followed is just what Asphalt Restoration Technology hopes to observe.  We always appreciate it when an association takes time. It is important for each community to realize they are unique in their requirements.

Preparation and Planning

One of the most important things a community association should consider when formulating its pavement needs is the development of a pavement maintenance plan over the expected targeted life of the pavement

Managers and board members should work with a maintenance specialist to establish a 20 year plan to protect the investment in pavement. Issues such as base setting/failure, surface cracks and potholes may require immediate attention to prevent unnecessary costly expenses in the future. The goal for any community that wishes to get the most from its dollars should be an overall strategy that contributes to extending the life of the pavement.

There are many special considerations when working on docks and especially suspended decks. If the deck is free floating, it moves more, which puts additional stress on the covering. Pavers need to be sealed to lock in sand, lock in joints and protect from ultraviolet light. A two-coat acrylic sealer is essential to accomplish those things. Any deck being paved around a pool must have coping to allow for proper water run-off and cold joints need to be waterproofed. In short, never install pavers without waterproofing. Absence of waterproofing might not be noticed in the early years of pavement life, but as water builds around metal supports, oxidation will slowly begin, leading to rust.


Project scope, approach of contractor, value predicted, and expectations are the parts of the evaluation equation a community should use before it contracts for paving.

"Project scope is something to be determined by the association. It should be quite firmly defined before contractors begin to make presentations to board members. Communities need to set up a scope of work and then pass it on to contractors", says Connie Lorenz, supervisor of operations at Asphalt Restoration Technology.

Connie says it is imperative when advice and bids are solicited from paving professionals for every contractor to be comparing the same variables. The community should be handing out specifications to contractors, not the other way around.

Approach of contractors varies within certain norms. When weighing advice and bids from contractors, a community should be sure it has good, professional advice. On the road side of paving, the contractor should be including in the estimate the cost of repairs for cracks, fixes to defective asphalt and leveling of low spots. Only by taking care of that preliminary work will a covering achieve its maximum longevity.

If paving is being done on a new road, the fill is just as important as the covering. It requires a specific match for the composition and natural drainage of the substrate. In some cases a granular mix of something like recycled concrete and asphalt is used. In other instance, fine asphalt is applied over coarse asphalt. The choices are staggering and a reputable contractor can explain which is best for your community.

Value predicted is important. Get a guarantee from the contractor, in writing. A contractor that stands behind their work will do the job correctly. To realize full value, a community ultimately needs to uphold its responsibilities regarding maintenance. Once a maintenance plan is in place, it should establish all the necessary criteria on how to proceed, whether it is protection or corrective measures that are required."

Expectations should be in keeping with the 21st century. Technology keeps changing and improving. Connie says, It is the new millennium, and there are better options now than there were just a decade or two ago. A leap to sealcoat on virgin untreated asphalt may be a leap too soon when rejuvenation is a possibility.

Whichever option a community chooses, confidence in the selection comes from knowing more.

So be sure to P-A-V-E before you pave.