Asphalt Cracks & How to Repair Them

People say Romans had the best roads. Their roads were typically made from brick and, at the time, were very strong. Some of the roads are even still there to this day. However, there was one big issue with these roads. They were difficult to repair. Today’s roads consist mainly of asphalt, a relatively durable material that is remarkably easy to repair. The complexity of the repair depends on the severity of the damage on the road. 

Step 1: Determine the type of Damage

Cracks are the most common form of damage on asphalt. There are several types of cracks. Some types will require more effort to repair, but for the most part, it should be a simple job.

Fatigue Cracks

This type of cracking is typically caused by the road being too thin, the loads on the road being too heavy, or some combination of the two. Fatigue cracks are easy to identify as they have a very particular pattern. The cracks form an interconnected pattern similar to how an alligator’s skin would look. Hence their other commonly known name, Alligator Cracks.

Longitudinal Cracks

These cracks form parallel to the center of the road. These cracks are usually formed by the asphalt layers changing in size or improper construction. They are not load-related.

Edge Cracks

Edge Cracks are similar to longitudinal cracks, but they form closer to the edges of the road. They are caused when the sides of the roads aren’t supported well enough.

Block Cracks

These are large rectangular-shaped cracks. They typically cover large areas and can occur in areas with little to no traffic. They are caused by temperature shifts in the asphalt.

Upheaval Cracks

This type of crack is formed when there are surface issues below the road. When pressure from below the road pushes upwards, there are visible cracks around the lump in the asphalt.

If you are unsure of the extent of the damage you see, you can always contact a reputable asphalt repair specialist for their opinion.

Step 2: Repair the Damage

Once you’ve determined the type of crack, you can move onto the repair.

For smaller cracks, using simple asphalt patches is usually sufficient. These types of patches, also known as cold patches, can be used in any weather at any time.

Larger cracks, however, require more expertise. To repair large cracks, you’ll need to use hot asphalt patching. This is when a stream of hot asphalt is poured into the cracks. This is the method that you’ll see used on commercial roadways and it is highly recommended to use a professional for this method.

If the damage is severe enough, you may have to do resurfacing or even re-do the entire section. This will, of course, require heavy machinery and professionals. Luckily, most cases do not require this amount of effort.

Step 3: Prevent Further Damage

Once you’ve applied your solution, you’ll want to make sure the damage doesn’t occur again. A lot of cracking is caused by water infiltration, liquids from vehicles, and UV rays from the sun itself.

Sealcoating is an excellent way to help prevent this kind of damage. Sealcoating is done in thin layers and works as an extra layer of protection. A proper seal coating will help prevent further damage and could save you money down the line.

Sealcoating works best when it’s done by people who know what they’re doing, so be sure to contact someone who knows their stuff.

Asphalt is an underappreciated modern marvel. It can take the stress and pressure from our multitude of vehicles, and can be repaired quick enough that it doesn’t stop the flow of traffic.

We are lucky that we don’t have the complexity of Roman roads when the time comes to repair.

Remember, repairing asphalt is a simple task, but it’s always done better by those who make a career out of it.