Why Asphalt Cracks and What to Do About It

Why Asphalt Cracks and What to Do About It

Asphalt is a durable product for roads and pavements of many uses, but it does naturally crack over time even with normal wear and tear. There are several different types of cracks, and the repair work can vary based on the type of crack. Here’s a quick low down on common cracking issues:

Fatigue Cracking: Sometimes called alligator cracking, this looks like interconnected cracks resembling alligator skin. It’s generally load-related and results from a weakened base or subgrade, thin pavement laid at install, overloading, or a combination of the three.

Block Cracking: A series of large, rectangular cracks on the surface of the pavement even where there is no traffic. It’s usually caused by asphalt shrinkage due to extreme temperature cycles.

Edge Cracking: Line cracks which are close to the edge of the pavement, usually about one to two feet, which form because of poor support at the asphalt’s edge.

Longitudinal Cracking: These are not load-related cracks and occur parallel to the centerline of the pavement. They’re typically caused by a poorly constructed joint, shrinkage of the asphalt layer, cracks reflecting up from an underlying layer, and/or improper paver operation at the time of install.

Transverse Cracking: These are also not load-related and occur kind of perpendicular to the centerline of the pavement. They’re usually a result of shrinkage of the asphalt layer or a reflection from an existing crack.

Reflection Cracking: Cracks that form over joints or other cracks in an old, breaking down pavement or overlay that has deteriorated and shifted/moved.

Slippage Cracking: Crescent-shaped cracks due to a low-strength asphalt mix or a poor bond between layers of pavement. This cracking generally occurs because of vehicle force when braking or turning.

Asphalt can crack or fail due to shrinking, oxidation, water penetration, drying out, freeze/thaw cycles during the winter, and from poor installation or using poor quality materials. Proper sealing during install and for maintenance will create a seal between the sub-surface and the top asphalt pavement to prevent water for seeping in and causing extensive damage, resulting in costly repairs.

Sealing asphalt is done by pouring a boiling hot rubber material onto the pavement. Once it cools, it hardens and creates a flexible, water-proof barrier. Ignoring cracks will allow water to penetrate your asphalt, which eventually will go from cracks to potholes. Laying a seal coat barrier will protect the asphalt from water, UV rays, oil, gas, and other chemicals. For a long pavement life, we recommend reapplying seal coat about every 4-5 years, depending on traffic and wear and tear. Many businesses recoat every 2-3 years to keep their pavement a nice, crisp black color and to make sure they’re keeping up on maintenance. Reapplying paint striping will also keep the pavement looking new and nice for your customers. We’re passionate about asphalt, and it shows in our quality work. Reach out to us with any questions you may have or if you are concerned about cracks in your asphalt pavement.

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