For property managers and homeowners, maintaining an asphalt driveway or parking lot and keeping it in good shape is a wise and rewarding investment. Just like our skin, asphalt also ages and matures as time goes by. To maintain its fresh appearance and prolong its life span, asphalt needs care and attention. Below are some tips and best practices in caring for your asphalt pavement.

4 Major Causes of Asphalt Degradation

A visibly cracked asphalt surface means that your blacktop needs repairs, and they should be done in a timely manner. If not addressed soon enough, cracks can grow larger and turn into potholes - which means bigger problems and a possible cause of accidents.

There are 4 primary factors that affect asphalt longevity:

1. Runoffs

Runoffs from leaky taps and hoses or melted snow can seep into the asphalt and get trapped. This trapped moisture weakens the foundation, creating sags and uneven sections in your driveway or parking lot.

Puddles and damp surfaces on your asphalt are indicators of trapped moisture. Aside from pavement damage posed by excessive moisture, it is also a potential cause of accidents. Anybody walking on a wet surface can slip and sustain physical injuries. Vehicles driving over a moist patch can skid and collide against other vehicles, pedestrians, or property.

Making sure that any form of moisture gets properly drained is one way to help extend the life of your asphalt, while preventing accidents from happening.

2. UV Rays

Continuous exposure to UV rays from the sun is also a contributing factor in speeding up the decay of asphalt surfaces. Cracked asphalt can result from oil, tar, and bitumen deficiency due to prolonged exposure. These materials are primary components of asphalt and once they are worn off, the asphalt become brittle and weak.

Asphalt flexes as the ground moves, to prevent splitting. However, once the materials that allow asphalt to flex are depleted, the surface cracks. These cracks, if not filled right away, can grow larger and turn into potholes.

3. Vegetation

Weeds, moss, and other forms of vegetation grow in cracked asphalt due to the trapped moisture in the bedrock. If left alone for too long, vegetation will continue to flourish and create even more cracks, further damaging your blacktop.

Use a powerful crack cleaning machine to effectively get rid of vegetation and clean cracks prior to filling.

4. Chemical and oil spills

Vehicles parked on our driveway or parking lot can drip oil and other chemicals that corrode the surface of the asphalt. These spills cause discoloration and should be cleaned right away to prevent them from penetrating deeper. Dried oil and chemicals are not only difficult to remove, but can also weaken your pavement. Use a commercial-grade driveway cleaner to treat oil and chemical spills before they cause more damage.

Check out our guide for additional ways to remove chemicals and oil stains from asphalt.

Repairing the surface of cracked asphalt

Preventive measures can stop further damage to cracked asphalt. Filling cracks, repairing potholes, applying cold or permanent patches, and sealcoating are best practices to ensure the longevity of your blacktop.

Here are different ways to fill cracks and keep them from turning into larger potholes:

1. Cold-Pour Crack Fill

As the name goes, this type of crack filler does not need to be heated. Cold pour crack fill is ideal for cracks that are less than ½ inch or smaller and widely used in residential areas by homeowners who want to fill small cracks here and there.

To use, shake the bucket or stir the contents thoroughly using a long stick, broom handle, or a paddle mixer attached to a power drill. Transfer the crack filler into a pour pot and apply over cracks. Spread the material evenly with a trowel, putty knife, or old paintbrush.

2. Hot-Pour Crack Fill

This type of crack filler is rubber-based and comes in the form of a cube. As the name implies, a hot pour crack filler needs to be heated and melted before using.

To use, place a cube of rubberized hot crack filler in a melter-applicator, such as the RY10 Elite Crackfill Melter Applicator, and heat up. Once the product is completely melted, use the machine to apply the crack filler in a pushing motion, just like when pushing a shopping cart or lawn mower.

This type of crack fill is generally preferred by sealcoating and asphalt maintenance companies, even when working on residential areas, as it holds up longer. Cold pour crack fillers can last up to 6 months, whereas the hot pour version can keep cracks sealed for up to 3 years.

3. Gator Patch

This crack filler has a sticky, mud-like consistency and can be directly applied, just like a cold pour crack filler. Ideal for filling a wide network of cracks that appears like the back of an alligator or a spider’s web, the Gator Patch is ready to use straight from the container. Just scoop out some of the material using a putty knife or trowel and spread in an even coat until the cracks are covered.

Don’t wait until your driveway or parking lot is completely ruined before taking action. Making repairs the moment small problems and damages appear is better than spending a fortune for overhauls and resurfacing. Trust us, your asphalt pavement will thank you for it!