Unfortunately, cracks happen. Whether you’re a homeowner with an asphalt driveway, or a property manager with an asphalt parking lot, your asphalt will eventually begin to crack over time. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the wear-and-tear of your asphalt, including weather, pesky tree roots, aging, the weight of vehicles, water damage, or simply the result of a poorly-installed base.
Despite all those challenges, you can prolong the lifespan of your asphalt with proper maintenance and care. By taking the time to regularly inspect your asphalt to identify and repair cracks, you can extend your pavement’s future, resulting in financial savings and improved safety. Think of it this way – when asphalt parking lots, roads, and driveways are properly maintained, they can last approximately 15-20 years. However, when they’re not regularly maintained, asphalt surfaces can start deteriorating within 3-5 years. So, by thinking of your asphalt as an investment, you’ll be able to recognize potential issues early on, which will save you both time and money. Read on to learn more about the different types of asphalt cracks to look out for, and the best practices for maintaining and repairing your blacktop for the road ahead.
To identify block cracks, look for square, circular, or rectangular cracks in your pavement. These can be caused by temperature changes, or issues from improper installation. If that’s the case, you’ll typically notice this condition several years after installation. Since block cracks are on the surface of the asphalt, they can be treated with thin overlays or other surface treatments to repair the asphalt and prevent future cracks.
Look for edge cracking to occur along the outer edges of your asphalt. Typically, these cracks are long and longitudinal, running parallel to the road. Poor drainage and heavy vegetation can be the cause of these cracks, so you’ll want to improve the drainage and remove vegetation from the edges of your asphalt when repairing edge cracks.
Fatigue cracking, also known as alligator cracking, can be easy to spot thanks to the connection of numerous small cracks, which can resemble an alligator’s skin. This type of cracking can be caused by several factors, including poor drainage, temperature fluctuations, load-related deterioration from a weakened base, or not enough pavement thickness. Usually, fatigue cracking is the sign of an installation flaw. Since this type of cracking is more than surface-deep, full-depth patches are usually recommended to restore the surface and help prevent future cracks in the same area.
Linear and transverse cracks usually show up along the joints of the pavement. Linear cracks run parallel to the center of the asphalt and can be caused by shrinkage of the asphalt surface, a poorly-constructed joint, deeper cracks, temperature fluctuations, or excess water damage. Transverse cracks, on the other hand, run perpendicular to the centerline of the asphalt. Shrinkage of the asphalt layer or an existing crack can also be the cause of this type of crack.
Treatment for these cracks involves improving the drainage around the surface of the asphalt, in order to keep water from seeping in and affecting underlying layers. In addition, the cracks should be filled with emulsion slurry, or asphalt and sand.
This type of crack mirrors sub-layer cracking and can be caused by the movement of old pavement. To identify reflection cracks, look for straight, often grid-like cracks along the surface of the pavement. These cracks form over joints or previous pavement cracks. To treat reflection cracks and prevent moisture damage, fill them with sealants and asphalt fill mixtures.
While inspecting your asphalt, look for crescent-shaped cracks, wrinkles, deep gaps, or cracks that make the asphalt look like it’s slipping along the surface of the pavement. These are known as slippage cracks, which are the result of a weak asphalt mix, or a poor bond between asphalt layers. Slippage cracks can be caused by the pressure from vehicles braking or turning on the asphalt. Depending on the severity of the crack and amount of surface slippage, these cracks typically require full or partial-depth patches.
Now that you’ve identified the types of cracks in your asphalt, it’s time to think about a repair and maintenance plan. Your repair plan will vary depending on the type of cracks you identify, and how deep below the surface they run. Here are the top ways to repair your asphalt cracks, and properly maintain your asphalt for less bumps in the road.
Cold-pour crack fill is an ideal solution for homeowners in residential areas treating smaller and shallower cracks. Cold-pour crack fill is available in liquid form and can be applied to cracks directly by hand.
Large-scale jobs, such as commercial parking lots and roadways, can benefit from this repair method. Hot-pour crack fill can last for two-to-three years, while cold-pour crack fill may only last up to six months. So, hot-pour crack fill is typically preferred by professional contractors.
So, what exactly is the difference between using sealcoat or crack fill for repairs? As GuardTop Sales and Marketing Manager, Ryan Strzalka explains, both products have different purposes.
“All parking lots have a lifecycle, and sealcoating is the early part. Sealcoating isn’t a repair — it’s a maintenance product,” he says. “Sealcoat is meant to slow the deterioration process but won’t fix the crack itself; sealcoat is not crack fill. Instead, you’ll need to combine sealcoating maintenance with crack fill. Think of sealcoating as maintenance for the long run to extend the life of your asphalt.”
Prior to pavement sealing, all potholes must be removed and replaced, cracks must be cleaned and filled, and oil spots cleaned or primed. For best results, Strzalka recommends sealcoating on a regular basis, approximately every 36 to 48 months.
If you need help identifying the types of cracks in your asphalt, and setting up a proper repair and maintenance plan, contact GuardTop today. We’d be happy to advise you on how to treat your asphalt and set up a plan for future maintenance. You can also find sealcoat, crack fill, and other helpful products at our Orange GuardTop Express store in Orange, California. We look forward to partnering with you to create a safer and more aesthetically-pleasing blacktop.