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Overlays and Microsurfacing: The Ultimate Resurfacing Treatments

Asphalt pavements are only as strong as the foundation beneath. Their protective abilities are not only threatened by natural and man-made forces from above, but also deteriorating foundational problems below the surface. Obviously, pavement removal and replacement is the only real way to diagnose and correct such problems, but not all situations – or maintenance budgets for that matter – are suited for this extensive step. Resurfacing treatments such as an asphalt overlay or microsurfacing can substantially extend the life of existing pavement surfaces until corrective measures are necessary. Don’t think of them as Band-Aids, think of them as suits of armor… just, not as shiny.

Overlays and Microsurfacing - the Ultimate Resurfacing Treatments

Asphalt Overlay

Asphalt overlay is the hot mix application of stone, sand, gravel, and liquid asphalt on top of the existing asphalt surface. The mixture is placed in 1 ½ to 3 inch lifts by a paving machine, compacted using a roller, and typically takes 2-3 hours to cure for traffic. Asphalt overlays can improve the lifespan of your asphalt surface by 10-12 years, depending on the condition of the pavement prior to application. As an added bonus, a fabric material can be placed between the original surface and the new asphalt on top, providing added strength and an extra moisture barrier. Ever the go-to, asphalt overlay is the most conventional method of pavement resurfacing today. 


Microsurfacing is a cold-mix resurfacing treatment that contains high polymer and asphalt residual content, quality aggregates, and fast-setting chemicals for an extra quick surface setup (traffic-ready within 1 hour, under most conditions). Typically placed between 3/8 – 3/4 of an inch, microsurfacing is able to improve the life span of an existing surface by 7–10 years, depending on the condition of the pavement it is placed on. The good news: because the solution requires less material, microsurfacing is typically less expensive than asphalt overlay. Due to its speedy cure time, however, microsurfacing is not recommended for parking lots where a high volume of handwork is required. This includes properties with covered parking awnings, tight radius turns, and those just too small to support the size of the equipment.

The Right Treatment for You

There’s little question that an asphalt overlay is a tried and true choice to maintain your pavement investment. However, microsurfacing may be an economical alternative if you simply need a fast-curing, skid-resistant wearing surface for traffic. Whichever choice you make, you can’t go wrong by protecting your foundation from further deterioration. When battling forces from above and below, a little armor goes a long way. 

See if an overlay or microsurfacing is right for your pavement. Contact ACE today.

ACE Asphalt is a full service asphalt maintenance, repair, and paving company with offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Dallas,Texas. Ace serves the parking lot repair, maintenance, and paving needs of property managers, building owners, and contractors.

(4) responses to "Overlays and Microsurfacing: The Ultimate Resurfacing Treatments"
Johnny Shi says: 13-Mar-2015 12:01 PM
It's great to think about the asphalt as a suit of armor. I really like that thought. I was surprised to know that with micro surfacing the road could be ready to use within an hour and last 7-10 years. That is pretty amazing to me. That might be enough to persuade me against asphalt overlay.
Giovana Correia says: 29-Apr-2015 09:25 AM
I think this is important to learn about because there are various asphalt surfaces that might need this.
Ajay Patel says: 01-Jul-2015 11:20 AM
I have a parking lot that has lots of alligator cracks which will be the best economical way to get this done so I can have about 3-5 years life out of it.
Jon Baggett says: 21-Jul-2015 01:55 PM
To obtain the most life from your surface, areas with significant alligator cracking should be cut out and replaced. There are other options (like patching with slurry or asphalt), but depending on the severity of the alligator cracks, patching might not buy you very much time. Would you like Derek Madsen to evaluate your surface and provide some recommendations?
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