A Guide to Asphalt Deterioration

Person standing on cracked asphalt surface

Whether driving down the road or pulling into a parking lot, you likely have noticed that the asphalt surface has cracks and potholes. They can be unsightly, especially if they’re allowed to grow unchecked. But what exactly causes asphalt to deteriorate? While it’s mostly natural, it can also be caused by human error during construction. Keep reading to learn more about asphalt deterioration, what it looks like, and what can be done to prevent it.

What Does Asphalt Deterioration Look Like?

Cracking can be the most apparent sign of asphalt deterioration. From slippage caused by incorrect compaction to shrinkage, plenty of different cracks can plague your asphalt. Potholes are another common sign, and they’re often due to deterioration. If the base of the existing asphalt is damaged or high loads are traveling on the surface, it can lead to distortion. You may also notice your asphalt turn gray or brittle in certain conditions or over time.

Why Does Asphalt Deteriorate?

Asphalt deterioration can result from human error during construction or natural causes. Whether cracked or disintegrating, the makeup of asphalt starts to break down as the liquid asphalt binder loses its natural resistance. Lack of waterproofing over time can also lead to problems.

Cracked asphalt surface

Is Human Error the Culprit?

Errors in construction can lead to serious issues with the asphalt and cause it to have a much shorter lifespan than expected. Common mistakes during construction can include

  • Incorrect compacted base
  • Lack of drainage
  • Over compaction
  • Under compaction
  • Wrong asphalt temperature during construction
  • Lack of appropriate moisture during construction
  • Poor asphalt mix
  • Improper paver operation

Are Natural Causes the Culprit?

Over time, natural causes can have an impact on asphalt. Some examples of these are:

  • Water penetration can lead to cracking and wash out the base
  • Gas, oil, and other chemicals can cause asphalt to break down, soften, and deteriorate
  • Extreme temperature swings can result in cracking
  • Sunlight and UV rays dry out the asphalt and cause raveling, shrinking, and cracks
  • Trees, shrubs, and other plants result in edge cracking
  • Shifting of older pavement can cause reflection cracking
  • Heavy traffic or high loads can impact the stability

How Can Asphalt’s Lifespan Be Improved?

Even if everything was done right during construction and there were no extreme weather conditions, asphalt has a natural lifespan of 15 years or more. However, that doesn’t mean your pavement can’t last longer than that. Maintaining your asphalt can keep your paved areas looking tremendous and lower your expenses over time.

Implement an Asphalt Maintenance Program

Asphalt should be maintained on a three to five-year schedule or sooner if the pavement shows signs of unexpected problems. Maintenance strategies include regular sealcoating, a well-designed drainage system, crack filling, pothole repair, and other solutions. Sealcoating, in particular, can waterproof your asphalt, slow oxidation, and make the pavement look brand new.

Asphalt surface with a crack

Work with an Experienced Company

To avoid errors and ensure your asphalt lasts, working with an experienced company is essential. They understand the ins and outs of asphalt, the common mistakes, and how to avoid them. It’s best to think of this as an investment. Working with a less experienced team could result in faster cracking, more potholes, and higher costs in the long run.

While asphalt will naturally deteriorate over time, whether due to sunlight, chemicals, or water, taking the proper steps during construction and maintenance can make all the difference. Working with an inexperienced company could lead to severe issues that impact your pavement well before it’s due to start cracking. It’s imperative, therefore, to work with a company that understands the necessity of getting it done right in the beginning and implementing a maintenance program for the future.

Leritz Busy Bee Paving understands the importance of your asphalt. Not only does it improve curb appeal, but it can also significantly impact how your customers and guests see you and your business. With years of experience, we can help you complete your pavement project, develop a maintenance schedule, and more – all while keeping your goals and budget in mind. Ready to start on your next asphalt project? Contact us today to get started!