What Is the Best Asphalt Crack Repair Option?

January 3, 2020

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A property owner should never put off needed asphalt crack repair, no matter the size of those cracks or extent of damage to the property’s asphalt. Cracks in asphalt tend to get larger and more difficult to repair the longer they’re ignored, resulting in even more damage to your property’s pavement and higher repair bills!

Asphalt crack repair options depend on the extent of damage and overall condition of the pavement itself. Filler materials are an excellent choice for small cracks, while a chip sealant provides covering and repairs for larger sections of pavement.

Some property owners put off needed asphalt crack repairs because of their budget, or because they assume they can fill in cracks and chips on their own. However, you never want to put off asphalt crack repair costs or assume this is a DIY job!

To ensure you take proper care of your home’s driveway or the commercial roadway, parking lot, or other section of asphalt for which you’re responsible, you might note some details about your options for crack repair. It’s also beneficial to consider why prompt and professional asphalt crack repair is so vital, and why this is not a DIY job! Remember to discuss this information with an asphalt repair contractor near you as needed, so you know your home or commercial property is always in tiptop shape.

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Why Your Property Needs Asphalt Crack Repair

Before you choose the best asphalt crack repair option for your property, it’s helpful to review the various reasons why asphalt tends to crack, split, chip, develop potholes, or otherwise suffer damage over time. This information might help you determine the reasons why your property needs asphalt crack repair so you can then choose the best repair option for your pavement.

  • Automotive fluids are a natural enemy to asphalt! Asphalt is a petroleum based product so any fluid containing petroleum is likely to break down asphalt binders, causing it to soften and develop chips, cracks, and potholes. Motor oil and other fluids eat away at asphalt and lead to eventual damage.
  • Hot summertime sun dries out asphalt, making it brittle and more likely to chip and crack. The more exposure asphalt suffers, the more likely it is to develop cracks and other surface damage.
  • Moisture softens asphalt and causes it to lose adhesion, leading to chips, cracks, and potholes. One reason why it’s vital to schedule asphalt crack repair when needed is to keep excess moisture out of the lower layers of asphalt, protecting it from more extensive damage!
  • Constant freeze-thaw cycles put pressure on asphalt layers, leading them to buckle and then crack, split, and chip.
  • Corrosive chemicals lead to spalling and damage along the surface of asphalt. These chemicals include snow clearing salt, fertilizers and other lawn care products, and the like.
  • Parking a heavy vehicle in the same spot repeatedly puts pressure on asphalt, often causing it to sink and then crack or chip, or allowing a pothole to form in that spot.
  • Turning wheels of a stationary vehicle also puts pressure on that area of asphalt, leading to tread marks, indentations, potholes, and other damage.
  • Scraping the surface of asphalt, such as with a snowplow or snow blower, damages its protective sealant or seal coating, potentially loosening aggregate and leading to eventual asphalt damage.
  • Improper drainage of a property leads to pooling of water underneath layers of asphalt so that they become soft and then split or crack.
  • Poor-quality asphalt installation, and especially asphalt installed over low-quality aggregate or overly thin asphalt, results in pavement prone to damage and early decay.
  • Asphalt, like other materials, simply breaks down with age. Over time, the binders in asphalt wear away so that chips and cracks form, or the surface suffers spalling and other damage.

Asphalt Crack Repair Options

Now that you know a bit more about why asphalt suffers cracks and chips over time, you might better understand your options for asphalt crack repair! Note a few tips on repairing asphalt and why some processes are preferred over others.

  • Asphalt fillers repair hairline cracks. These fillers often come in tubes and then expand once applied. The filler then dries and hardens. While this is a quick fix for minor imperfections, asphalt fillers are not sufficient for repairing potholes, chips, and major damage along asphalt surface.
  • Pothole repair is a bit more complicated. The damaged area needs proper cleaning and then filling with pothole repair materials, similar to fresh asphalt. The filler material is then flattened with a tamping tool; more filler is added and tamped down as needed and then allowed to dry.
  • When chunks of asphalt have broken off, there is little that can be done to repair or rejoin those areas. Instead, new asphalt is often poured in that spot so the pavement is like new again.
  • Extensive spalling is often corrected with a chip seal. A chip seal adds a fresh layer of binder and aggregate, or chips, over the surface of asphalt. This layer is then pressed into place, creating a new pavement surface.

While these repair options offer a fresh asphalt surface, note that seal coating is not the same as chip repair or chip sealant. A layer of seal coating provides protection for asphalt and might enhance its color but is not meant as a means of repairing asphalt surface or damage.

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How to Keep Asphalt in Good Condition

To avoid unnecessary asphalt crack repair, you might ensure that you’re doing everything possible to keep asphalt in good condition. Avoiding damage in the first place means dealing with as few repair bills as possible over the years, and potentially extending the life of your asphalt as well!

One important consideration is having asphalt sealed as often as recommended by your paving contractor. During summer months, you might also hose down the surface of asphalt, to keep it cool and prevent damage due to sunlight. Regular power washing also washes away corrosive chemicals, motor oil, and other such damaging materials.

Ensure your property is graded or sloped as needed, to prevent water from pooling above or below asphalt. This will reduce the risk of water damage and the number of cracks and chips that form over the years. If you notice standing water on your property’s pavement or that your lawn is always soft and soggy, contact a landscaping engineer to check the property’s grade or slope. It’s also good to avoid scraping snowplow blades and other tools over the surface of asphalt.

Why Avoid DIY Asphalt Crack Repair

Filling in hairline cracks with filler is a simple task and most homeowners can manage this work on their own. However, filling in larger cracks, chips, and potholes especially should be left to a professional. One reason for this is that improper repairs might trap dirt, moisture, and other damaging debris in that crack or chip, making it worse over time!

Using the wrong materials for filling in cracks and other damage also means unsightly repairs that don’t last. Failing to tamp down those materials or using too little filler can cause it to separate from the original asphalt, resulting in an unsightly mess and a larger chip or crack than before!

It’s also vital that existing asphalt be prepared properly before repairs. This prep work includes cleaning, clearing away vegetation and loose aggregate, and drying the material. Without proper prep, the current asphalt might pull away from filler materials so that your work is ineffective.

asphalt crack repair

When You Need New Asphalt Installation

No matter the skills of your asphalt repair contractor, eventually pavement simply wears out and needs replacing. A good sign of needing new asphalt installation is when the pavement is very old and suffering severe spalling or lots of cracks along its surface. In that case, repairs might be ineffective and downright pointless!

Poor-quality asphalt installation might also need replacing over time, versus repairs. Tearing up old asphalt poured over a thin layer of aggregate so a new bases can be installed, as well as fresh asphalt layers, ensures strong pavement ready for vehicles and pedestrian traffic.

Related Questions

Is a chip seal the same as asphalt installation?

A chip seal pours a fresh layer of emulsified or liquid asphalt over the current pavement and then new aggregate or chips are added and pressed. This provides a new asphalt surface but the process is not the same as adding asphalt layers.

Can you repair large asphalt cracks with filler?

Once a crack opens so much that you can see the lower layers of asphalt, filler is often insufficient for repairs. Fillers also don’t rejoin broken chunks of asphalt or fill in potholes and other such damage.

What is spalling and how is this repaired?

Spalling or pavement “cancer” is a corrosion along the surface of asphalt or concrete. This damage is very unsightly and can lead to water damage as well as needed asphalt crack repair. Avoid these costs with a chip sealant or other option for repairing spalling once it occurs.

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