Written by: LIFESTYLE

Can You Asphalt Over Old Asphalt? Pros & Cons

When properly installed and maintained, asphalt pavements can last for up to 20 years. But considering its exposure to the elements, the asphalt can become damaged over time. Eventually, it will need repair or replacement depending on the extent of the damages. 

If you’re wondering whether you can apply a new asphalt layer over an old asphalt pavement, yes it’s possible. Although asphalt overlay or resurfacing is the most preferred solution for minor and moderate damages, it is not always the best option. Major damages that involve the foundation or base of the pavement may require replacement – but it can be very expensive. 

Asphalt resurfacing is different from sealing. In resurfacing, a new layer of asphalt is spread over an existing asphalt surface, such as driveways, roads, or parking lot. The asphalt overlay can be around 1.5-inch to 2-inch thick. Typically, the #404 surface course of asphalt is used when overlaying over an existing asphalt pavement. Using the same products for both layers ensures that the new and old layers heave together, especially during cold climates. 

How Asphalt is Resurfaced?

The old asphalt is thoroughly cleaned to remove dirt, loose aggregates, pebbles, and other debris. Then, major damages, such as cracks or potholes, are cut out and repaired. A special sticky compound called tack coat is applied between the layers to ensure a complete bond and long-term stability. A fabric layer is also applied between the old and new asphalt which creates a water barrier. This reduces the possibility of crack expansion within the old asphalt layer, as well as, adds durability. Then, the fresh layer of asphalt is pressed using a rubber tire roller.

Compared to a complete replacement, asphalt overlay does not offer the same lifespan as a new installation. Before you decide to install a new asphalt layer, you want to know why your existing pavement is failing. For example, the base underneath is not providing sufficient support. Even if you install a new asphalt layer, this won’t solve the underlying problem. Before installing new asphalt, make sure you correct them first.

Pros and Cons of Installing New Asphalt Surface Over an Old One

Deciding between an asphalt overlay and total replacement is not simple. Aside from the financial aspect, you also have to consider other factors, such as functionality, safety, the extent of damages, aesthetics, and possible disruption due to repair. To help you decide better, here are the pros and cons of asphalt overlay.


  • Affordable. Compared to replacing asphalt surfaces, applying a new surface is an affordable solution to many asphalt problems. Asphalt paving experts from ABC paving & sealcoating recommend resurfacing if the asphalt is less than 15 years old, the extent of damage is less than 30%, the foundation is stable, and cracks are not more than an inch wide.
  • Minimal Disruption. Asphalt overlay can be much sooner than a total replacement. Depending on the size of the area, the project can be completed in a day. Removing the old asphalt and installing a new one can take several days. This is the best option for businesses and commercial establishments that require minimal disruption in their operations.
  • Prevent Future Replacement Costs. A timely asphalt overlay can save you costly repair and replacement costs in the future. Resurfacing your asphalt pavement can resolve unlevel surfaces, potholes, cracks, upheavals, and other non-structural damages. Usually, if these problems are not resolved early, they can lead to severe damages that can cost you a huge sum.


  • Not Recommended for Severely Damaged Surface. If the asphalt has extensive damage, especially involving its structure or foundation, an asphalt overlay is not recommended. Resurfacing severely damaged asphalt can end up adding to replacement costs. Likewise, the overlay should not be used for being used if the asphalt has reached its life span.
  • Costly Preparation Work. The size of the area can affect the cost-effectiveness of the project. For example, if the parking lot is small, you might be spending more on the preparation work rather than the overlaying. In this case, a total replacement might be a better option. Resurfacing is ideal if it covers a large space.
  • Aesthetic. Cracks from the existing surface might reflect through the new surface eventually. It is unknown when will the cracks show up – maybe years, months, or even after the first winter season – but it will occur. The surrounding soil can affect reflective cracking. Applying fabrics can help mitigate this problem but over time they will still re-appear.

If you’re considering asphalt resurfacing, you need to manage your expectations. While you can save several hundred with this repair method, it does not guarantee the same effect as a total replacement.

Better yet, if your pavement needs repair, consult a reliable and trustworthy paving expert who can help you assess your existing pavement and evaluate available options.

Last modified: September 14, 2021