Can Asphalt Paving Be Done in Cold Weather?


Willamette Valley Paving


June 24, 2024

Asphalt paving plays a crucial role in infrastructure development, providing smooth and durable surfaces for roads, driveways, and parking lots. A common question is whether asphalt paving can be done in cold weather. Understanding how temperature affects asphalt paving is essential for ensuring pavement longevity and quality.

Want to learn more about The Basics of Paving? We wrote a whole article on asphalt paving.

The Challenges of Cold Weather Paving

Asphalt consists of aggregates, binder, and filler, which need to be heated to around 300°F (150°C) during the paving process. This high temperature ensures the asphalt remains workable and can be properly compacted into a solid, durable surface. Cold weather presents several challenges:

  1. Reduced Workability: In cold temperatures, asphalt cools down quickly, reducing its workability. This makes it difficult to spread and compact the material before it hardens, leading to potential issues with the pavement’s integrity.
  2. Compaction Issues: Proper compaction is essential to remove air voids and ensure the asphalt is dense and durable. In cold weather, achieving adequate compaction becomes challenging, resulting in a pavement that is more susceptible to moisture infiltration and subsequent damage.
  3. Thermal Cracking: Asphalt that cools too quickly can develop thermal cracks. These cracks compromise the pavement’s structural integrity and can lead to more significant issues over time, especially when water infiltrates and freezes, causing the cracks to expand.
employee on paving roller along curb

Optimal Temperature for Asphalt Paving

For optimal results, perform asphalt paving when the ambient temperature is above 50°F (10°C). This allows the asphalt to remain workable longer, facilitating proper spreading, leveling, and compaction. However, with certain precautions, paving can still be done at lower temperatures.

Precautions for Cold Weather Paving

If paving in cold weather is unavoidable, contractors can take several measures to mitigate the challenges:

  1. Use Warm Mix Asphalt: Warm mix asphalt (WMA) is a technology that allows asphalt to be mixed and laid at lower temperatures. This can extend the paving season into colder months and reduce the risk of thermal cracking.
  2. Insulated Transport Vehicles: Using insulated transport trucks and tarps can help maintain the asphalt’s temperature during transportation and laying. This prevents premature cooling and allows more time for proper compaction.
  3. Increase Compaction Efforts: Using additional rollers and ensuring that compaction is performed quickly after laying can help achieve the necessary density and reduce air voids.
  4. Monitor Weather Conditions: Avoid paving when temperatures are expected to drop significantly or during windy conditions, as wind can accelerate the cooling of the asphalt.
  5. Pre-Heat the Surface: In some cases, preheating the surface where the asphalt will be laid can help maintain the temperature of the asphalt mix.
parking lot asphalt paving oregon

Although cold weather paving presents challenges, it is not impossible. By understanding temperature impacts and taking appropriate precautions, paving projects can be successfully completed even in colder conditions. The key is maintaining asphalt temperature, ensuring proper compaction, and staying vigilant about weather conditions. With these strategies, durable and long-lasting pavements can be achieved year-round.

Wondering if asphalt paving can be done in the rain? Find out here.



AMAZING from start to finish! Justin and his entire team were a exceptional to work with. I had the pleasure of working with Justin on a large project with many moving parts and the project flowed seamlessly. It was and is fantastic that Willamette Valley Sealcoating is able to facilitate so many services with exceptional results. Repeat customer, for sure! Thank You.

Brookshore Apartments

Services: Asphalt resurfacing, Parking lot repair & maintenance, Excavation & grading, Asphalt paving & repair, Driveway sealing, Pavement crack filling & sealing, Concrete work, Street maintenance, Bumper block & post installation, Paving line striping, Driveway replacement, Sealcoating, Paving job site preparation, Parking lot striping, Driveway repairs