Caring for Paved Surfaces It's a Pave New World

How solid is the ground on which you walk and drive upon in your community? The answer might surprise you, as could the amount of money that might be seeping from your community’s reserve fund from unnecessary repairs to driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks.

Whether taking the form of sidewalks, parking lots and slabs, driveways, balconies, or outdoor design elements, paved surfaces are everywhere in New York’s co-op, condo and HOA communities. Caring for and repairing these acres of asphalt (as well as the community’s concrete sidewalks, decks and pavers, etc.), is a tedious task. The management has the responsibility of keeping the pavement outside the front doors in good shape; but it’s in the interest of everyone in a community to keep an eye on these parts of the infrastructure, as well.

Understanding the various materials, methods, and technologies involved in the paving located in a multifamily co-op, condo or HOA might seem purely the bailiwick of property management and not as much a concern of residents or board members. Still, it makes sense to save dollars. Having a clue on whether the asphalt parking lot needs a patching or a major renovation could save everyone in the building community or HOA time and money.

Firm Foundations

Knowing about paving means understanding the materials used for such projects. Just as some contractors are better at doing certain projects and not as great at working on other types of jobs, however, the correct material for the project may not be the one that seems best at the outset. Sometimes, when everyone is yelling for new asphalt, actually concrete is needed (or vice versa).

Generally speaking in New York residential communities, parking lots are asphalt, and sidewalks are concrete. The differences are distinct: asphalt is made of big and small rocks, sand, and petroleum; it’s flexible, and cures over six to 12 months. But strictly speaking, asphalt never really “sets up”—it stays flexible, unlike typical concrete, which becomes a solid, rigid surface after it cures.


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  • I really liked your post. I had no idea that there were so many things that you can do to take care of asphalt! In your post you mention the importance of having a seal coat installed when you first put down the asphalt, as well as applying a new coat every year. I have an asphalt driveway that I installed recently, so I'm going to take your advice and have it seal coated yearly to prolong its life. Do you have any tips to help me find a good seal coating contractor?
  • Thanks for sharing! It is interesting to me that the asphalt never really "sets up", and is flexible for a very long time. Since it is more flexible, you would think that asphalt would have a longer lifespan than concrete. However, it makes sense, especially if the pavement is used all the time. Like you said, the soft asphalt can eventually get misshapen to the point where it needs to be replaced.