What Causes Cracks in Your Asphalt Pavement

Key Takeaways:

  • Asphalt pavement can develop cracks due to various factors, including weather, water, and wear.
  • Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent cracks and extend the lifespan of your pavement.
  • Cracks can worsen if left untreated, leading to costly repairs or replacements.
  • Conduct frequent inspections to promptly identify and address cracks and issues, preventing them from worsening.
  • Apply a high-quality sealcoat to protect your asphalt pavement from UV rays, water, and chemicals.
  • Address cracks early by filling or sealing them to prevent moisture infiltration and further damage.

As a homeowner, you’re likely familiar with the frustration of discovering cracks in your asphalt pavement. Whether it’s your driveway or a pathway on your property, these unsightly blemishes diminish the overall appeal of your home. They can lead to more significant structural issues if left unaddressed. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the asphalt pavement world and explore the factors that cause those annoying cracks. More importantly, we’ll discuss preventive measures and solutions to ensure your pavement remains smooth and durable for years.

Are cracks in your asphalt pavement causing you headaches? Don’t worry; we’re here to help. Contact our asphalt pavement experts for professional assistance.

The Annoying Dilemma of Asphalt Pavement Cracks

Cracks in asphalt pavement can occur due to a multitude of reasons. Understanding these culprits is essential in both preventing and effectively addressing the issue. Here are the primary factors that contribute to cracks in your asphalt pavement:

Weather Extremes (Freeze and Thaw Cycles)

One of the most significant factors leading to pavement cracks is the weather, particularly freeze and thaw cycles. In regions with fluctuating temperatures, water can seep into small cracks in the pavement. When this water freezes, it expands, causing the cracks to widen. Subsequently, when the ice thaws, the cracks contract again, creating stress in the asphalt and potentially leading to cracks. 

The good news is that sealcoating provides a protective barrier that shields your asphalt pavement from the elements. Regular sealcoating can significantly extend the life of your pavement by preventing water infiltration and reducing the impact of UV rays.

Water Damage

Water is the arch-nemesis of asphalt pavement. It can infiltrate even the tiniest crevices, weakening the structure from within. This weakening makes the pavement more susceptible to cracking under the weight of vehicles or the pressure of foot traffic. Therefore, it’s wise to ensure that your pavement is designed to facilitate proper drainage. Adequate drainage systems can help divert water away from the pavement, reducing the risk of cracks caused by water damage.

Heavy Traffic Loads

The constant pressure and weight exerted by vehicles, especially heavy ones, can contribute to the development of cracks over time. When asphalt pavement is subjected to excessive loads, it can crack, creating aesthetic issues and compromising the pavement’s structural integrity. 

If you notice small cracks beginning to form, address them immediately. Filling and repairing these cracks in their early stages can prevent them from worsening and save you from costly repairs down the road.

Poor Installation or Materials

In some cases, cracks can be attributed to subpar installation practices or the use of low-quality materials. If the asphalt mixture isn’t adequately designed or the installation process isn’t carried out correctly, it can result in premature cracking. As such, when installing asphalt pavement, choose a reputable contractor who uses high-quality materials and follows industry best practices. Proper installation can prevent cracks from occurring prematurely.

Vegetation and Tree Roots

While trees and vegetation are lovely additions to any property, their roots can pose a threat to your asphalt pavement. As tree roots grow, they can exert significant pressure on the pavement, leading to cracks and upheaval. Managing vegetation near your pavement can help prevent root-related damage.

Poor Soil Compaction

The soil beneath your asphalt pavement should be adequately compacted to provide a stable foundation. If the soil isn’t compacted correctly during installation, it can settle over time, causing the pavement to crack. Proper soil compaction during construction is crucial.

Moreover, the ground shifting can lead to pavement cracks in regions with unstable soil or areas prone to seismic activity. Implementing proper engineering and construction techniques to accommodate ground movement is crucial in such areas.


Asphalt pavement, like any other material, deteriorates with age. Over time, it can become more brittle and prone to cracking. Regular maintenance and, if necessary, resurfacing or overlaying can help combat the effects of aging on your pavement.

Chemical Exposure

Exposure to chemicals, such as oil, gasoline, or de-icing salts, can weaken asphalt pavement. These substances can penetrate the surface and erode the binding agents that hold the pavement together. Promptly clean and sealcoat any areas exposed to chemicals to prevent cracks.

Lack of Routine Maintenance

Neglecting routine maintenance is one of the primary reasons pavement cracks worsen. Regularly inspect your pavement for early signs of cracking, and implement a maintenance schedule that includes crack sealing, sealcoating, and resurfacing when needed.

Pro Tips: Caring for Your Asphalt Pavement

Maintaining your asphalt pavement in top condition requires diligence and proactive measures. Here are additional steps you can take to ensure its longevity and functionality:

  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly remove debris, leaves, and dirt from your pavement’s surface. That prevents organic materials from breaking down and weakening the asphalt.
  • Snow and Ice Management: During winter, manage snow and ice carefully. Avoid the use of harsh chemicals that can damage the pavement. Opt for snow removal methods that minimize physical stress on the asphalt.
  • Resurfacing and Overlay: In cases where your pavement exhibits significant cracking and wear, consider resurfacing or overlaying. These processes involve applying a new asphalt layer over the existing pavement, providing a fresh, crack-free surface.
  • Professional Inspection: Consider having your asphalt pavement professionally inspected. Experts can identify issues early and recommend appropriate preventive measures or repairs, potentially saving you from more extensive and costly problems in the future.

Preserving Your Asphalt Investment

Understanding the factors that cause cracks in your asphalt pavement is vital for effective maintenance. By taking proactive steps, such as sealcoating, prompt crack repair, and routine maintenance, you can preserve your asphalt investment, ensuring a smooth, safe, and appealing surface for your property. Don’t wait until cracks become a significant issue—protect your pavement today. Ready to protect your asphalt pavement from cracks and damage? Contact Paved Assets, the experts in asphalt maintenance and repair.

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