How Long Does Asphalt Take to Dry? (+ Sealing and Rain)

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  • Post last modified:July 9, 2021
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I think it’s about time to pave my own driveway. I wanted to find out how long does it take for the asphalt to dry, to look nice for my yard as I just cleaned the leaves. According to many paving companies, there are several things that should be taken into consideration when paving (and sealing) your driveway.

How Long Does Asphalt Take to Dry? Typically, it takes 24 hours for fresh asphalt to dry enough for you to walk or drive on it, and only 2-3 hours for resurfaced asphalt to dry. This can take longer depending on weather conditions.

Humid, wet weather, and extremely hot weather can prolong this period, as will extremely cold weather.

According to several paving companies, you should stay off your new asphalt for at least 24 hours, and don’t park a car on it for at least 5 days. If it’s a resurfaced asphalt (poured over the old layer) then only after 2-3 hours you should be safe to drive on it (if it’s not especially humid or hot outside).

Here is in more detail how long it takes, and are there any differences with cold patch asphalt.

Cure vs Dry

Are these things the same? Generally, no.

There is some confusion between these two terms.

Fully cured and dry are different things, though some companies may use the term “cure” to refer to the drying process.

Curing is different than drying. Usually, asphalt takes 6 to 12 months to fully cure. The time varies on the type of mix, the thickness, and weather conditions.

When your asphalt is dry, it means it’s open for traffic, but it doesn’t mean it’s fully cured, just that it has hardened enough for the vehicles to drive on it.

Cured asphalt means that it has fully hardened. During this curing time, the asphalt changes color from black to gray and should be looked out for. Extremely heavy vehicles should avoid it, and no hard turns at high speed should be done at it. This will damage your new asphalt.

How Does Weather Affect Drying Time?

Both cold and hot weather will negatively impact your new asphalt.

The best time to pave your driveway is on a dry day, with low humidity levels, and a bit of wind. The more humid the air is, the longer it is going to take before you can drive on it.

Extreme heat will soften the asphalt and make it harder to dry, but also to fully cure. Your new asphalt needs time to cool down. Spraying it with water can help sometimes, but most companies advise avoiding doing any kind of work in these extreme conditions if you can. It’s best to avoid making asphalt repairs or doing paving work if the temperature is above 100°F.

residential asphalt driveway

If you do have new asphalt in hot weather, you can temporarily harden it by watering it down with a garden hose.

In hot weather, you should drive slowly and avoid parking your car on it, because you could damage it.

Wintertime is another example of bad timing, as the cold weather will harden the asphalt before it can be finished leaving you with bumps in the pavement. Plus, it will take longer to dry, because the temperature will inhibit the water molecules in the asphalt from evaporating.

Some repair work can be done, but it won’t be ideal.

How Soon Can New Asphalt Get Wet?

Generally, new asphalt can get wet after 24 hours, with two to three days being ideal.

Rain is the enemy of asphalt when paving. Rain will make asphalt dry slower, and working during rain will damage asphalt in most cases. So, when paving, try to look for a few sunny days before rain.

When it comes to seasons, the best time to pave your new driveway is spring or early summer, on a warm sunny day, with some breeze. It’s ideal when it’s not too cold, too hot, or too wet.

If your home and driveway are completely new, it’s advisable to wait for at least two years before you pave your drive or walkways. This is because 2 years is usually enough time for the grade to settle, and the base for the asphalt to become established.

Taking Care of Newly Paved Asphalt

New asphalt needs time to fully cure and harden to look nice next. This process can take a long time, and with various degrees of success.

Most paving companies suggest taking care of your asphalt properly until fully cured, by knowing how to avoid damaging it.

Here are some of the tips you can use to help new asphalt cure better:

  • Don’t park your car at it for at least 5 full days after paving
  • Don’t drive too fast, or make quick turns on it
  • Keep heavy vehicles away from it
  • Avoid turning your wheel back and forth when the car isn’t moving
  • Avoid parking in the same spot all the time
  • Don’t walk on it in high heels (seriously)
  • Avoid placing sharp heavy objects on it
  • Avoid driving close to the edge of your new asphalt
  • Most damage is done by water, so have proper drainage around it
  • Sealcoat when the damage starts becoming visible

By following these tips you can allow for your new asphalt to cure and harden properly, and last for a long time to come. Healthy asphalt increases real estate value, looks nicer, and is safer for everyone.

a man Sealing asphalt driveway

Sealing Your Asphalt

Sealing, sealcoating, or pavement sealing is the process of applying a protective coating to asphalt pavements, to protect the asphalt from hazardous elements, such as water, oils, and UV damage.

Asphalt dries out over time. As it dries, it becomes more brittle, and that’s also when cracks begin to appear. This is why new asphalt is dark black and, as it weathers, it turns lighter. The asphalt sealing process will help to keep the asphalt “wet.“

Generally, it is advised to seal your driveway every 1 to 3 years, depending on the state of your asphalt. It’s not necessary to overuse the sealer, as it can cause peeling or cracking if it builds up, causing the alligatoring effect.

There are some clear signs you can use to know when to seal:

  • your driveway asphalt is cracking in several places
  • pavement is rutted or severely broken
  • buckled surface and dents appear
  • fading and stains on many places

DIY or Hire a Contractor for Sealing Your Asphalt?

Generally, it may be a good idea to hire a contractor to do the sealing for you, as it’s usually inexpensive in most areas. Usually, when you do the calculations yourself, it may come up just 20-30% more expensive than DIY. This is a cheap job to have done in most areas, and after you buy all supplies and plan on new shoes, you may already be spending more.

It usually costs about a couple hundred dollars to sealcoat your asphalt yourself, or have it done by a contractor.

A couple of tips when hiring a contractor to do the sealing: Ask them how they are going to apply the asphalt sealer. It’s inexpensive to simply spray a thin layer of the sealer onto the driveway, but a much better alternative is a thicker asphalt sealer that needs to be spread with a squeegee. The product you buy at the home store is this thicker, viscous sealer. You will absolutely notice the difference between the two options.

Make sure to pick your contractors carefully. Spending a bit more on a better product will be a good investment to protect your driveway long-term.

How Long for Asphalt Sealer to Dry?

Generally, the asphalt sealer will dry in 4 to 8 hours, while some companies recommend staying off the sealed asphalt for at least 12 hours in normal weather conditions, to ensure fully curing.

In extremely warm weather, it’s best to let 24 hours for the sealer to dry, and 48 hours in especially humid weather conditions.

To speed up your sealer drying time, use a thinner layer, and make sure there aren’t any puddles forming while applying the sealer.

How Soon to Seal After Laying the New Asphalt?

According to several paving companiesafter laying asphalt it is recommended to wait 90 days before sealing a residential driveway. This is because the asphalt needs to be hard enough to withstand power steering.

Before sealing or paving your driveway, make sure that you open your garage, and remove any vehicles before you start if you need to use them.

How to Get Cold Patch Asphalt to Harden?

The best asphalt patch is hot mix asphalt. However, cold patch asphalt can also be used as a temporary fix to fill cracks or holes.

It’s a cold asphalt mix designed for repairing and patching your existing surfaces.

Being different from the hot mix, it can be used almost immediately after the repair is done. For some, you can drive on it almost instantly. However, the cold patch still takes 12-36 hours to dry, and about 30 to 90 days to cure.

a man applying cold patch asphalt on pavement

Using cold patch asphalt to repair is easy.

Here is how to use cold patch asphalt to fill dents or potholes:

  1. Remove all loose asphalt from the pothole
  2. Get rid of any standing water or weeds
  3. Clean the asphalt or the dent with detergent and high pressured water
  4. Pour the cold asphalt mix over the hole
  5. Spread the mix around so that it’s about 1.5 inches above the surface
  6. Use a tamper or a trowel to compact and compress the mix (if too low, add more asphalt mix and repeat)
  7. (optional) you can use a patch repair product around the area to make it nicer
  8. Throw some sand over it so it doesn’t stick

If you want to cover it with a sealer, later on, it should dry at least a few weeks before applying it.

Cold patch asphalt is an easy and quick fix, but a temporary solution. It is not a permanent solution, because it does not address what is causing the problem in the base and surrounding areas in the first place.

Credits: alpineasphalt.com for cover photo.