Maintenance Tips for Asphalt and Tar-and-Chip Paving for Homeowners in Alberta

Tar And Chip Paving

Welcome, Alberta homeowners! As we navigate the distinct challenges of Alberta's climate, from freezing winters to hot summers, understanding the maintenance of asphalt and tar-and-chip pavements becomes vital. These popular paving choices, while durable and visually appealing, are particularly susceptible to the province's extreme temperature fluctuations. In winter, Alberta's frequent freeze-thaw cycles can cause pavement cracking and heaving, while the intense summer sun can lead to surface softening and fading. 

This guide is designed to provide you with essential maintenance tips tailored to these specific conditions. By diving into the nuances of pavement care in Alberta, we aim to equip you with practical strategies to protect and prolong the life of your pavements, ensuring they remain resilient against the province's harsh weather, year-round. Join us as we explore effective maintenance practices that cater to our unique Alberta environment, keeping your home's outdoor spaces as enduring and welcoming as the stunning landscape that surrounds us.

Understanding Asphalt and Tar-and-Chip Paving

Asphalt and tar-and-chip pavements are two prevalent choices for homeowners across Alberta, each offering unique benefits and facing distinct challenges in our province's varied climate. Understanding these materials is key to effective maintenance and ensuring their longevity.

Asphalt Paving:

Composition: Asphalt is a mixture of aggregate, binder, and filler, which creates a durable and flexible surface.

Popularity: Its widespread use in Alberta is due to its cost-effectiveness and ability to withstand heavy loads, making it ideal for driveways and roads.

Weather Resilience: In Alberta's climate, asphalt's flexibility makes it resistant to cracking under the freeze-thaw cycles. However, it can soften in extreme heat and may require sealcoating to protect against UV rays and chemical spills.

Tar-and-Chip Paving:

Composition: This pavement type involves layers of crushed stone and tar, offering a rougher, more textured surface than asphalt.

Aesthetic Appeal: Tar-and-chip is chosen for its rustic look and the variety of stone colors available, making it a preferred option for residential driveways.

Maintenance Needs: It handles Alberta's temperature swings well but can experience loosening of stones over time. Regular sweeping to remove loose stones and occasional reapplication of the top layer are essential maintenance steps.

Maintenance Challenges in Alberta's Climate:

Freeze-Thaw Cycles: Both asphalt and tar-and-chip pavements can suffer from the freeze-thaw cycles prevalent in Alberta. Water seeping into small cracks and freezing can lead to expansion and further cracking.

Summer Heat: The intense summer heat can make asphalt surfaces more pliable, potentially leading to grooves and marks. Tar-and-chip surfaces may experience softening of the tar binder, causing some stone loss.

Drainage Needs: Proper drainage is crucial to prevent water accumulation and the resultant damage. Ensuring that water drains effectively off the surface can mitigate many of the winter-related issues.

By understanding these materials and the specific challenges they face in Alberta's climate, homeowners can take proactive steps to maintain their driveways and ensure their longevity. The following sections will delve into specific maintenance tips and strategies to best care for these surfaces through Alberta's diverse weather patterns.

Regular Maintenance Tips

Maintaining the integrity and appearance of your asphalt and tar-and-chip pavements in Alberta involves regular upkeep. Here are some essential maintenance tips that can help you extend the life of your driveway and maintain its aesthetic appeal, despite the challenging weather conditions.

1. Cleaning: Keeping Your Pavement Pristine

Routine Sweeping: Regularly sweep away leaves, dirt, and debris. This not only keeps the surface looking neat but also prevents organic material from decomposing on the pavement, which can cause damage over time.

Stain Removal: Quickly address oil or fluid leaks from vehicles. For asphalt, use a commercial asphalt cleaner or mild detergent. For tar-and-chip, a gentle approach is crucial to avoid dislodging the stones, so opt for mild soap and water.

Power Washing: Occasionally, a more thorough cleaning might be necessary. Power washing can be effective, but use a lower pressure setting for tar-and-chip to avoid damaging the surface.

2. Crack Filling: Preventing Minor Issues from Becoming Major

Regular Inspections: Periodically inspect your pavement for cracks, especially after the winter months. The freeze-thaw cycle can cause small cracks to expand rapidly.

Prompt Repairs: Use a rubberized asphalt crack filler for small cracks in asphalt pavements. For tar-and-chip, smaller cracks can often be self-repaired with a tar-based sealant, but larger issues might require professional attention.

Preventive Measures: Filling cracks as soon as they appear can prevent water from seeping underneath the pavement, which is crucial in avoiding more significant damage from freeze-thaw cycles.

3. Sealcoating: Protecting Your Investment

What is Sealcoating?

Sealcoating involves applying a protective layer over your asphalt pavement. It acts as a barrier against moisture, UV rays, and chemicals.

Benefits: Regular sealcoating can double the life of your asphalt driveway. It helps prevent oxidation, enhances pavement flexibility, and maintains its dark, rich color.

Frequency: In Alberta’s climate, consider sealcoating your asphalt driveway every two to three years. For tar-and-chip pavements, while traditional sealcoating isn’t typically done, monitoring the surface for signs of tar binder wear is essential.

Implementing these regular maintenance practices will not only keep your driveway looking great but also significantly extend its lifespan, which is especially important in the challenging climate of Alberta. Up next, we'll explore seasonal maintenance strategies to further protect your paving investment.

Seasonal Maintenance for Alberta’s Climate

Alberta's distinct seasons each bring their own set of challenges for pavement maintenance. Here's how to adapt your care routine throughout the year to keep your asphalt and tar-and-chip driveways in optimal condition:

Spring/Summer: Post-Winter Recovery and Preparation

Damage Assessment: As the snow melts, thoroughly inspect your pavement for winter damage. Look for new cracks, potholes, or areas where the stone has been displaced on tar-and-chip surfaces.

Repair Work: Address any identified damage promptly. Fill cracks and consider patching potholes. For tar-and-chip surfaces, you may need to reapply stones or tar in areas that have worn away.

Cleaning: Remove any salt residue left from winter de-icing. This is also a good time for a thorough cleaning to remove debris and stains that accumulated over the winter months.

Sealcoating for Asphalt: Late spring or early summer is ideal for sealcoating, as the temperatures are conducive for the sealant to cure properly.

Fall: Preparing for the Coming Winter

Drainage Check: Ensure your pavement’s drainage system is clear of leaves and debris. Proper drainage is crucial to prevent water accumulation and ice formation during the winter.

Crack Sealing: Fill any new or expanding cracks to prevent water from seeping in and freezing, which can cause further damage through the freeze-thaw cycle.

Surface Inspection: For tar-and-chip driveways, check the integrity of the surface. Look for loose stones and areas where the tar may need replenishing.

Winter: Navigating Snow and Ice

Timely Snow Removal: Regularly clear snow from your driveway to prevent it from compacting into ice. Use a plastic shovel or a snow blower, as metal blades can damage the pavement surface.

De-icing Carefully: When using de-icing products, choose ones that are less harsh on pavement surfaces. Sand can provide traction without damaging the driveway.

Avoid Sharp Tools: Be cautious when breaking up ice. Avoid using sharp tools that could gouge your asphalt or dislodge stones from your tar-and-chip surface.

By tailoring your maintenance efforts to suit each season, you can effectively mitigate the impact of Alberta’s weather conditions on your pavements. This proactive approach not only maintains the aesthetic appeal of your driveway but also extends its functional life, ensuring it remains a durable and attractive aspect of your home throughout the year. Next, we will look into addressing specific common issues that may arise with your pavements.

Addressing Common Issues

Maintaining your driveway in Alberta means being proactive in addressing common issues that can arise due to the climate and regular wear and tear. Here's how to tackle some of these challenges:

Dealing with Potholes and Surface Wear

Pothole Repair: For asphalt, use a cold asphalt patching compound. Clean the area, pour in the patch, and tamp it down. For tar-and-chip, pothole repairs might be more complex and could require professional assistance.

Regular Sealing: Sealcoating can prevent surface wear on asphalt driveways and should be part of your regular maintenance.

Surface Monitoring: Keep an eye on the overall condition of the pavement. Extensive surface wear might indicate it's time for a more comprehensive treatment or resurfacing.

Managing Water Drainage Issues

Proper Sloping: Ensure your driveway is properly sloped to direct water away from the pavement and your home's foundation.

Clearing Drainage Pathways: Regularly check and clear any gutters, drains, or grading that facilitates water runoff from your driveway.

Addressing Pooling Water: If you notice water pooling, it may be a sign of an underlying issue like improper grading or compacted subsoil. In such cases, professional assessment is recommended.

Tips for Maintaining the Appearance of Pavements

Regular Cleaning: Keep the driveway clean from dirt, oil, and debris. This not only maintains its appearance but also prevents materials from breaking down the pavement surface.

Weed Control: Address weeds that can grow through cracks as they can cause further damage.

Stain Prevention: Clean spills promptly to prevent staining, especially on asphalt surfaces.

When to Seek Professional Help

While regular DIY maintenance can go a long way, there are times when calling in a professional is necessary:

Identifying Signs That Professional Maintenance is Needed

Large Cracks or Potholes: If you notice large cracks or potholes that are too big to handle yourself, it’s time to call a professional.

Drainage Problems: Issues like water pooling that aren't resolved by simple measures may require a professional's attention.

Surface Deterioration: If the overall surface of your driveway is extensively worn or damaged, professional resurfacing may be required.

How Often Should Alberta Homeowners Seek Professional Pavement Assessments?

Routine Checks: A professional assessment every 2-3 years can help identify potential issues before they become major problems.

After Severe Weather: After extreme weather events, it’s a good idea to have your pavement inspected for any hidden damage.

Choosing the Right Paving Service in Alberta

Experience and Reputation: Look for a service with good reviews and experience, particularly with local Alberta conditions.

Services Offered: Ensure they offer the specific services you need, whether it's repair, resurfacing, or sealcoating.

Licenses and Insurance: A reputable company should have the necessary licenses and insurance to perform the work.

By knowing when to handle issues yourself and when to call in professionals, you can ensure that your pavement is not only functional but also adds to the aesthetic value of your property. In the next section, we will delve into eco-friendly maintenance practices, allowing you to take care of your driveway while being mindful of the environment.

Eco-Friendly Maintenance Practices

Embracing eco-friendly practices in maintaining your asphalt and tar-and-chip pavements not only benefits the environment but can also be gentle on your surfaces and effective in prolonging their lifespan.

Using Environmentally Safe Products for Cleaning and Maintenance

Natural Cleaning Solutions: Opt for eco-friendly cleaning products or homemade solutions like a mixture of vinegar and water for removing stains and cleaning your pavement.

Eco-Friendly De-icers: Avoid traditional salt de-icers which can be harsh on your pavement and the environment. Instead, use alternatives like calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) which are less corrosive and safer for nearby plant life.

Sustainable Practices Specific to Alberta's Ecosystem

Water Conservation: Use water-efficient methods for cleaning your pavement, like broom cleaning or using a low-flow pressure washer.

Proper Waste Disposal: Ensure any runoff from cleaning or maintenance does not contaminate local waterways. Collect and dispose of waste materials according to local environmental regulations.

Landscaping for Drainage: Incorporate landscaping features that help with natural water drainage and reduce runoff, such as installing a rain garden near your driveway.

Cost-Saving Maintenance Tips

Balancing the costs between DIY and professional maintenance, and understanding the long-term financial benefits of consistent pavement care, can lead to significant savings over time.

DIY vs. Professional Maintenance: Balancing Cost with Pavement Longevity

DIY for Regular Upkeep: Simple tasks like regular cleaning, minor crack filling, and basic weed control can be effectively managed by homeowners.

Professional Services for Major Issues: For complex issues like deep cracks, potholes, or resurfacing, hiring a professional ensures quality work that extends the life of your pavement.

Long-term Financial Benefits of Consistent Pavement Care

Preventative Maintenance: Regular maintenance helps avoid costly repairs in the future. Addressing issues early on can be far more cost-effective than dealing with larger problems that develop from neglect.

Extended Pavement Lifespan: Consistent care extends the life of your driveway, delaying the need for expensive resurfacing or replacement.

Property Value: Well-maintained pavements contribute to the overall aesthetic and value of your property.

By adopting these eco-friendly practices and understanding the balance between DIY and professional maintenance, Alberta homeowners can not only save money but also ensure their pavements remain in good condition for years to come. The next section will conclude our guide, emphasizing the importance of regular pavement maintenance for the beauty and safety of your Alberta home.

Paving the Way to a Safer, More Beautiful Home in Alberta

Maintaining your asphalt or tar-and-chip pavement is an essential aspect of homeownership in Alberta. Not only does it enhance the curb appeal and value of your property, but it also plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of everyone who uses it. Regular maintenance helps avoid costly repairs and extends the lifespan of your pavements, saving you money in the long run.

As homeowners, it's also important to be aware of the legal responsibilities and potential liabilities associated with pavement upkeep. By being proactive in maintaining your pavement, you not only comply with local laws but also contribute to the safety and aesthetic appeal of your community.

We encourage you to embrace the maintenance strategies outlined in this guide. Whether it's conducting regular cleaning, filling in cracks, or seeking professional help when needed, your efforts will go a long way in preserving the beauty and functionality of your home's exterior. Remember, well-maintained pavements not only reflect well on you as a homeowner but also enhance the overall quality of life in your Alberta neighborhood.


Roy Alcock is a highly experienced professional in the paving industry and serves as the owner of Ram Paving LTD, a long-standing, family-owned business with a rich history of delivering top-tier paving services. Roy's expertise and insights are deeply rooted in his family's legacy of paving, which spans multiple generations. Drawing from this extensive heritage, he consistently upholds a reputation for exceeding customer expectations.

With a strong commitment to precision craftsmanship, open and effective communication, and a hands-on approach to every paving project, Roy Alcock has established himself as an unwavering authority in the field. His dedication to excellence aligns seamlessly with Ram Paving LTD's mission to provide clients with unparalleled paving solutions.

For further information about Roy Alcock and the esteemed history of Ram Paving LTD, please visit the About Us page on their website.