Pavement Preservation – Don’t be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

We’ve all seen paving crews out working at some time or another. But what are they doing – especially when the road seemed to be in fine shape? Hopefully, the city, county, or state is being proactive about preventive maintenance. The buzzword on this right now is called Pavement Preservation. It is more cost-effective to do preventive maintenance rather than let an asset deteriorate where it needs total replacement. If you had a leak in your roof, would you ignore it and wait until it was time to replace the entire roof? No, because the leak would cause other damage, and by fixing the issue, you can add years of life to the rest of the roof. The same principle applies to pavement, and it is usually a water leak that causes the damage. Sealing a road to prevent water intrusion helps preserve the life of a pavement.

Hot Mix Overlaying

The old-school way of pavement maintenance was to repave it. However, repaving is one of the more expensive options at around $17 per square yard. Hot mix overlay will reseal the road and add some structural strength to the roadway. Overlay is best for a road with significant and widespread cracking and perhaps some minor rutting problems from overloading.


If a road has moderate cracking and low rutting, microsurfacing is a good option at around $4 per square yard. This method places a slurry of asphalt with a small portion of sand and fine gravel to add about ¼” of thickness to the pavement. The thin layer does not add significant strength to the pavement but fully seals the road and can correct minimal rutting issues.

Sealing Applications

If cracking is the only problem and cracks are across the entire roadway width, there are several types of sealing applications that spray liquid asphalt across the full road. The asphalt works its way down into existing cracks, preventing further water intrusion. Chip seals, scrub seals, cape seals, and fog seals typically cost around $2-$4 per square yard.

Lastly, manual crack sealing is a good approach if there are primarily linear cracks. In this method, a laborer manually works sealant into a crack, usually via a wand and hose attached to a trailer. Crack sealing is very inexpensive at around $0.30 per square yard.

Like home maintenance, Pavement Preservation encourages proactive preventive maintenance to avoid further, more costly repairs down the road.