Although an asphalt parking lot has a long life expectancy, it will eventually need extensive work. In many cases, you can simply apply a new asphalt layer over the surface, a process called resurfacing, and it's like having a new parking lot. In other cases, though, damages to the old lot will require a full replacement of both the base and asphalt surface. The following can help you decide between resurfacing and full replacement.
The main deciding factor on how to proceed is the base of your parking lot. If the base is damaged, then replacement is the only way to proceed. Attempts to resurface over a lot with a damaged base are an exercise in futility. The new surface will develop the same structural problems as the old surface within a few weeks or months if the base has been compromised. A paving company can assess your base for issues before you make a decision.
Potholes and Causes
Most potholes are the result of incomplete maintenance. A small crack on the asphalt surface isn't repaired before winter arrives, so moisture in the crack freezes and expands until the asphalt crumbles into a pothole. In this case, resurfacing fills the pothole as well as any remaining surface cracks so further damage doesn't occur. On the other hand, in some cases, potholes develop because of sinkholes beneath the base. The asphalt settles into the sinkhole, forming a divot where water collects and weakens the asphalt until a hole forms. Resurfacing won't provide a permanent fix because the base needs to be reconstructed, so replacement is a better option.
Cracks and Pitting
Much like potholes, most cracks and pits are only on the surface. If the damage isn't very extensive, then simply resurfacing the lot is sufficient. Extensive alligator cracks and upheaval, though, can't be fixed with a new surface so replacement is needed. When the damage is extensive, moisture has likely made its way into the parking lot base. Further, the unevenness of the asphalt surface can be extreme and it will transfer through the new surface in short order.
Budget will, of course, play a part in any decision to resurface or replace. Resurfacing is much less expensive and takes a lot less time than fully replacing the lot. In the event that your current budget doesn't allow for a full replacement, you can opt to resurface in the short term while you make up the budgetary shortfall for a future replacement project.
Contact a commercial paving service like J R Paving Co. for more guidance on the best way to proceed with your parking lot project.