The Difference Between Asphalt Resurfacing and Replacement

Nothing lasts forever. That includes even the most durable of materials, like asphalt pavement. Eventually, over time, every asphalt surface will begin to show wear and tear, including fading, cracks, potholes and crumbling around the edges, to name just a few. If your asphalt pavement is beginning to show its age, you may be faced with the choice of whether to have it resurfaced or replaced. But that’s a hard decision to make if you’re not clear about what the differences are between those two choices. To help you make the right decision regarding your asphalt pavement, we’ve compiled the following information explaining the difference between resurfacing and replacement.


Resurfacing involves a contractor first repairing existing damage to the surface, such as potholes and cracks. The next step in the process is removing the top layer of the old asphalt surface, then applying a new fresh layer of asphalt over the top. Resurfacing is an excellent choice if the foundation and sublayers of your pavement are not damaged. Usually this method works for asphalt that is less than 20 years old and if the existing damage to the asphalt isn’t too extensive. Resurfacing is less costly than replacing the asphalt, and if it’s done properly it can extend the life of the pavement by several years.


If the foundation and/or sublayers of your paved surface are damaged, the asphalt will need to be replaced. Replacement involves tearing out the existing asphalt – including the foundation – and replacing it with a brand new surface. If your pavement is more than 20 years old, or if the existing damage is substantial, you may need to have it replaced. Depending on how well you maintain the surface, how much wear and tear the surface is exposed to, and what your climate is like, most asphalt surfaces typically last for about 20 years. If your pavement is older than that, replacement may be the only option.

A word of caution about resurfacing: if it is not done correctly, or if the foundation of the asphalt is damaged and you choose to resurface it rather than replace it, the resurfacing won’t last and the whole exercise will simply be a waste of money. That why’s it so important to choose a reputable paving contractor – one who will be honest with you about the current condition of your pavement and recommend either resurfacing or repaving based on that assessment.