5 Must Know Strategies for Effective Pavement Preservation

Pavement is one of your most expensive assets. Becoming educated in pavement preservation will help you choose the treatment for your roadways that will achieve the maximum extension of pavement life for each dollar invested.

Effectively mitigating costs by extending the life of your pavement assets requires planning. Whatever the use of the asphalt pavement you own or manage, remember one thing… You can manage your asphalt assets or they will manage you. If you manage them, that means a lot less out of your pocket.

Evaluating what’s proven to work in your area will help spend the least amount of money over time. The more you get educated you become on pavement, you will benefit from…

  • The lowest possible expenditures
  • Higher aesthetics & property values
  • Fewer premature failures
  • More predictable costs
  • Reduced need for costly rehabilitation or reconstruction

Focus on the Best Pavements First

Depending on your budget and the spectrum of pavement assets you ownership of, your approach will change.

The most common mistake is we see people naturally focus on the worst roads first: “We’re getting a lot of complaints”…or… “Residents expect the crumbling roads to be fixed yesterday.” They look at the money they spend “keeping good roads good” as a luxury.

And that’s a mistake because when you ignore the long term lifecycle of pavement… you risk leaving millions on the table. (Quite literally, if you have enough asphalt to maintain.)

This may sound like a subtle distinction but it can make or break your pavement management strategy. Whenever possible, focus on the long term consequences of ignoring your good roads.

Preserve the Pavement, Don’t Just Turn it Black

Turning roads black does not mean you are extending the life of your pavement. Agencies install a treatment to the surface that turns the roadways black, but does not affect the texture of the road surface. Result: Little or no extension is actually done to the life of the pavement. A great side benefit is that the pavement retains a deep black color that contributes to higher property values and overall aesthetic appeal.

Black pavement is not a reflection of effective preservation.

Highest ROI is Achieved Early in a Pavement’s Life

Some make the mistake to assume that it is best to wait several years before applying preservation treatments to new asphalt. Here is a little secret the industry has stumbled upon only relatively recently: the highest period of oxidative aging occurs early in the pavement lifecycle.

If you wait until you have complaints from residents, then you have waited too long. Being proactive and using the latest engineering advancements in preservation such as High Density Mineral Bond (HA5) can be especially advantageous for lowering the costs of pavement ownership. If you look at a traditional curve over time showing deterioration of pavement condition, it is a smooth slope over time.

However, we now know that isn’t telling the full story.


A dollar spent now on effective pavement treatment can easily save you $6 or more later (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials). Once you allow your pavement to manifest distresses, those are now permanent problems that you will need to continually address.

Now for an example: an award-winning HOA in Las Vegas, NV found itself with a large amount of money allocated in its reserve study for road maintenance. For many years, it had been the number one largest expense item.

However, after incorporating a new strategy that included High Density Mineral Bond (HA5) applications, road maintenance fell from the first to the fourth largest! By applying the right treatment at the right time, overall costs can be significantly decreased. And for this particular HOA’s situation, choosing HA5 over slurries and seal coats was the secret.

The HOA president, Robert Rothwell, PhD, stated in an interview that, “[HA5] is much more resilient. It has a durability that slurry and sealants do not have. It keeps its look so that your road is looking good over a long period of time. Because it is so good, it doesn’t have to be done as often. It doesn’t chip, it doesn’t crack. It stays the way it is when it is put down for a long time. I would recommend HA5 over any product at this point, because of the results that I see.”

Being proactive and using the latest engineering advancements in preservation such as High Density Mineral Bond (HA5) can be especially advantageous for lowering the costs of pavement ownership.

It all comes down to applying the right treatment at the right time. Once you allow your pavement to manifest distresses, those are now permanent problems that you will need to continually address – eventually resulting in costly rehabilitation.

Choose the Right Treatment

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for preserving asphalt pavements. When your community calls for street maintenance bids, what are you asking for? If you are focused on the cheapest priced project, you will likely miss out on what really will be the least expensive cost of ownership strategy.

In other words, you should be focused on maximizing the extension of pavement life at the lowest possible cost over time.  There are many treatment types such as seal coats, fog seals, slurry seals, chip seals, High Density Mineral Bond installations, etc., that are all able to turn your pavement black. They are not all equal, however, in terms of extending pavement life.

Fog Seals: A fog seal is an asphalt emulsion spray applied that is most appropriate as a short-term assistance to pavement maintenance or as a temporary binder on top of a chip seal treatment.

Seal Coats (also Mineral Sealers, Mastic sealers, Polymer Modified Sealers, and others): A seal coat is a thin liquid application which consists of a slow setting asphalt chemical emulsion mixed with fillers, water, and various additives. The drawbacks include a lack of durability and effective industry standards promotes unreliable quality.

Slurry (Types I, II, and III): Slurry is effective on moderately distressed roadways requiring minor rehabilitation. Good skid resistance. Type III can be used on heavy load, high volume, high speed roadways.

Micro-surface: Micro-surface is effective on moderately distressed roadways with requiring minor rehabilitation. Capable of rut filling and can be applied at varying thicknesses. Good durability and life extension. Good skid resistance.

High Density Mineral Bond (HA5): Specifically for local roads, HA5 is comprised of a mixture of a dense mixture of fine aggregates and polymers suspended in an asphalt emulsion. Reduces cracking and raveling by effectively preserving the existing asphalt binder. Effectively deflects UV rays.  Depending on pavement condition, installations guaranteed for 5-years. Aesthetically pleasing “surface friendly” finish.

Depending upon the condition of your pavement, one treatment will be better than another. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for preserving asphalt pavements.

Protect the “Glue”

Oxidation is the primary force that breaks the glue holding the aggregate together. When the glue comes apart, it leads to raveling and cracking. Eventually, the pavement crumbles.

Oxidation is primarily caused by two environmental elements:
1) UV Rays
2) Moisture

Therefore, to keep the glue in a supple condition (and holding those rocks together), we must shield it from sun and water. The purpose of pavement preservation treatments is to provide protection from both of those elements.