Asphalt Paving FAQ & Answers From The Experts

Asphalt Paving Basics

Q: What exactly is asphalt?

To most people, “asphalt” refers to the finished product on a roadway or parking lot. But technically speaking, asphalt is the heaviest part of petroleum (oil). After asphalt is separated at a refinery, we can modify it in a variety of ways, including “cutting back” (adding a cutting agent) to make it malleable enough for use. Or emulsifying or pulverizing to gain the right consistency. 

Asphalt for paving goes through a mixing process to become either hot-mix asphalt, the most common type for flexibility and weather resistance; warm-mix asphalt, which is increasingly popular because it uses less fossil fuel; or cold-mix asphalt, which is ideal for winter pothole repair. Learn more about the asphalt manufacturing process.

Q: How thick does my asphalt need to be?

Surface thickness is largely dependent on the types of vehicles and stresses on your parking lot. Share as many details as possible with paving experts, so that we can make the best recommendation on asphalt thickness.

Q: When and why should I sealcoat my driveway?

We often recommend that driveways, parking lots and roadways have a sealcoat application every 3-5 years. Sealcoating is a thin liquid layer added over a paved surface to protect it from damage caused by UV rays, rain and snow, and fluids from vehicles. Learn more about the 7 key benefits of sealcoating to save you money.

Q: How long does an asphalt parking lot or driveway last?

Asphalt that is properly installed with quality materials by an experienced asphalt contractor should last 30 years or more years. The key to extending the lifespan and durability of your asphalt surface is to perform regular preventative maintenance to keep your surface looking great. Regular maintenance can extend the life of your lot to 40 to 50 years. Take a look at 3 asphalt parking lot preventative maintenance tips.

Q: Why should I choose asphalt pavement for my paving needs?

The condition of your parking lot or driveway sends a message to customers. A well-paved, crack- and pothole-free driving surface says you’re concerned about appearances. It also says you’re thinking about customer safety, and that you want to protect their vehicle from damage when they visit your business. Compare asphalt pavement vs. concrete.

Historically, asphalt has proven to be an excellent paving material. Cost wise, asphalt provides excellent performance equal to other more expensive options.

Q: What is an overlay, and is it appropriate for my needs?

On some occasions, it is possible to apply a new layer of asphalt over an old layer. A qualified asphalt paving professional will need to inspect the site to make that determination. 

Unfortunately, overlays are often done on pavement surfaces that should be repaired or replaced entirely. Consider these 5 asphalt overlay factors. At Wolf Paving, we will only overlay when we are sure that option is the best choice for the integrity and durability of the surface.

Q: Can you perform asphalt repairs in the winter?

Some asphalt repair work can be completed in the winter months. Usually a temporary repair is done with cold-mix asphalt, with a proper repair done in prime weather conditions. It’s always better to repair or replace your blacktop before winter comes.

Q: When and where should cold-mix or hot-mix asphalt be used?

Cold mix is used mostly in off-season situations, or where a quick fix is needed. Hot mix is used during prime season. There’s also a newer type called warm-mix asphalt, which can be shipped farther due to its lower temperature requirements.

Q: How do you decide what type of asphalt should be used in my project?

Our asphalt paving professionals determine product type for each unique paving project. Inspection of the site will indicate the best match for the anticipated usage. On most Municipal and new Commercial sites, the specification for the product is provided by the architect or engineering firm. We then formulate the product to match the noted specifications. Learn more about which type of asphalt mix is right for your project

Q: What’s the difference between permeable and porous asphalt?

Porous asphalt allows water to pass-through the asphalt to a specially prepared gravel base. Permeable pavement provides a method to reduce runoff over impervious surfaces that allows for the management and treatment of stormwater on-site while creating a usable area. Learn more about these sustainable asphalt paving options.

Q: What will the asphalt look like when finished?

When your asphalt pavement is brand new, the surface is very black. Sometimes, you may be able to notice roller marks and some areas where hand work was done may be more visible. After a short time of use, however, the surface will blend together and have a very smooth appearance. 

Q: How do I maintain my asphalt to keep it looking good for years to come?

There are many things you can do to keep your asphalt paving looking great. Killing weeds along the edges, treating any oil or gas spills, filling any open cracks, and keeping the pavement sealed will greatly extend the life of any asphalt surface. Look out for these key blacktop maintenance issues.

Many do-it-yourself products are available, but keep in mind that many are not up to the standards used by asphalt paving professionals. There is also a skill level required to apply certain products. Applied incorrectly, any repair solution or sealing “cure” can actually cause damage. For these reasons, we recommend getting your asphalt maintenance done by pros. 

Project Budgeting & Management

Q: How much does repaving cost?

There are a number of factors that go into the cost of replacing an asphalt surface. Location (distance from the plant), size of the area to be paved, sub-base condition, and traffic load requirements are all important factors to consider in the overall cost of the project. Always keep in mind that a properly installed and maintained asphalt solution will last 15 to 20 years or more, so it’s an investment that lasts.  

Q: What are the steps to a repaving project?

You can break the process down into seven basic steps:

  1. Demolition and removal of the existing surface – We recycle nearly 100% of the materials we remove from a job site.
  2. Grading and sloping – Preparing the surface for appropriate water drainage (Does your project involve a large or complex site excavation? That’s a specialty of our sister company, Rock RoadTM.)
  3. Preparing the sub base – Grading and compacting to ensure a stable surface
  4. Proof roll and any necessary sub base repairs – Reinforcing the sub base and fixing soft spots through undercutting, plowing or geogrid
  5. Adding binder – Large aggregate mixed with oil, improving surface durability
  6. Installing new asphalt surface – Top layer of small aggregate, sand, and oil for a clean, smooth ride and shiny finish
  7. Adding butt joints and transitions – Smooth connections requiring special attention to grading and seams 

After that, all that’s left is a final roll to make sure the surface is fully compact and smooth.

Q: How long does it take to complete a repaving project?

As with any construction project, timelines will vary based on the requirements of the project and accessibility needs of the project site. For example, a business parking lot may need to stay partially open at all times. Generally, there are 2 phases: the excavation and site preparation followed by the binder and surface installation. Our Project Managers will work with you to develop a schedule that both fits your needs and ensures the end result lives up to Wolf’s quality standards.

Q: What are my options for repairing vs. fully repaving?

Filling potholes and cracks promptly and sealcoating your surface can help you put off a full repave for many years. However, certain types of visible damage on your parking lot surface, such as alligator cracking, are symptoms of underlying problems. Have an expert examine your parking lot before simply trying to smooth over a problem that is likely to soon return and even worsen. If you’re not sure about the condition of your lot, contact us for a free consultation.

Q: What permits will I need?

Every municipality is different in terms of what they require; please contact your municipality. 

Q: Do I have to close my parking lot to repave it, or can you repave in stages?

It can be done in stages as required by the owner.

Q: How will you keep me up to date on my project?

Once the project has been accepted, a Project Manager will be your contact. In addition, you can always contact Wolf Paving’s headquarters if you have a question.

Q: How long should I stay off the new asphalt?

Normally, 24 hours is all that is required to use your new asphalt surface. In very warm weather, we recommend staying off the fresh asphalt for 1 - 2 days, as the surface cools.

Wolf Paving Services

Q: Why does Wolf sometimes choose not to bid a project?

We would love to be able to serve any customer who comes our way. But we try to focus on the work we do best and most cost effectively. Size and location are two primary reasons we might not bid a project. Sometimes a job is too small for an organization of our size to justify financially. Or a job may be too far from one of our asphalt plants (in Oconomowoc, Sun Prairie, or Menomonee Falls). For projects outside of our coverage area, we may refer you to our sister company, Rock Road, which serves southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois

We are committed to doing mutually beneficial work for every customer. Sometimes, that means not wasting your time with a bid that doesn’t really make sense for either of us. In those cases, we’re always happy to recommend a better-fit paving company for their job.

Q: Why wasn’t Wolf’s bid the lowest?

We maintain a fleet of the industry’s best equipment as well as one of the region’s most well trained and skilled paving teams. Given the investments we continue to make, we’re often not the lowest bidder on a project. However, due to the fact that we own three asphalt plants, most times we can come in at a competitive price – and in any case a great value! Request a free estimate today.

Q: What is your coverage area?

We serve the Greater Milwaukee and Madison areas, including the counties of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Walworth, Washington, Jefferson, Dodge, Columbia, Rock and Dane. Meanwhile, our sister company, Rock Road, covers additional locations in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. If you’re not sure if we reach your area, feel free to contact us anytime.

Q: Where do you get your asphalt?

We mix all our own asphalt at our plants in Oconomowoc, Menomonee Falls and Sun Prairie. This is a key difference between Wolf and other area paving companies. We save you money by cutting out the asphalt middle man.

Q: What do you do with the old asphalt?

Old asphalt is returned to our yard at our recycle facility. In fact, we recycle 100% of the asphalt we remove from a job site (the same goes for recycling at Rock Road, our sister company). At one time, old asphalt was used primarily to build temporary roadways in landfill sites. Now, all recycled asphalt and “crushed reclaim” is a valuable product. Used in various amounts and formulations, reclaimed asphalt is found in many of the asphalt mixes used by Wolf Paving. Municipal projects all require a percentage of recycled asphalt in the product. The addition of reclaimed asphalt to custom mixes has been found to improve asphalt mixes, extending longevity and enhancing performance.

Q: Do you take old asphalt shingles?

Yes we do! We have a number of locations approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to recycle asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are used in small percentages in various mixes. Again, many municipalities and commercial projects require the addition of recycled shingle in their mix.

Q: Do you offer a warranty on your work?

Wolf Paving offers one of the best warranties in the industry. Because we control everything from the manufacturing of the mix to the site preparation and installation, we stand behind both the quality of the asphalt and the quality of our workmanship.

Q: Is Wolf licensed and insured?



Request a free quote today!

Get Your FREE Estimate