Asphalt Crack Filling: Protecting Your Pavement Investment

Maintaining smooth and functional pavement is crucial for the safety and aesthetic appeal of any property, from residential driveways to commercial parking lots. Even the most well-constructed asphalt surfaces eventually develop cracks. Learning how to fill asphalt cracks prevents further deterioration and ensures the longevity of your asphalt pavement.

Why Does Asphalt Crack?

Cracks in asphalt may seem like minor nuisances at first, but over time they will spread, causing significant issues if left unaddressed. Several factors are responsible for asphalt cracking; these include:

  • Moisture. Water infiltration is one of the primary culprits responsible for the degradation of asphalt surfaces. Moisture erodes the pavement’s gravel and sand base, causing the surface layer to break apart, causing cracks to form. When water pools or seeps into the cracks, it penetrates the underlying layers, weakening the pavement structure and causing the asphalt cracks to expand. This can lead to potholes, and eventually, pavement failure. 
  • Sunlight. Heat is detrimental to asphalt, drying out the pavement and causing the base aggregate materials to break down. This causes the concrete to expand and push outward, forming cracks and other damage. The sun can also melt snow and ice during the day; when temperatures drop overnight it can refreeze. This freeze and thaw cycle causes cracks to expand and contract, worsening the damage. 
  • Trees and Shrubs. When vegetation is planted close to pavement, roots may grow and spread beneath the asphalt. Pressure from below forces the base layers upward, causing cracks to form. Weeds can also grow in asphalt cracks, causing them to spread over time.
  • Fuel and Oil. When gasoline, diesel, and oil leaks or spills onto a driveway or parking lot, the hydrocarbons may seep beneath the surface, softening the asphalt. This leads to the formation of cracks. 
  • Settling. The ground is continuously shifting and settling due to a variety of factors: the weight of the driveway itself, weather conditions, utility work, tree removal, and natural disasters such as earthquakes and severe thunderstorms can all exacerbate settling, resulting in asphalt cracks. 
  • Normal Wear and Tear. Often, asphalt cracks for no other reason than everyday wear and tear. Constant traffic and changing weather conditions will eventually take their toll, causing even the sturdiest asphalt surfaces to erode and wear down. Asphalt crack filling can slow down the process, but won’t prevent it entirely.

Benefits of Asphalt Crack Filling

An asphalt driveway or parking lot can be costly, but it’s a necessary expense that adds value to any property. You’ll want to get the most from your investment, whether you’re a homeowner or running a business. Asphalt crack filling offers the following benefits:

  • Prevents further damage. Filling the cracks in a timely manner prevents moisture from penetrating the pavement layers and causing additional cracking or potholes. This helps maintain the structural integrity of the asphalt surface.
  • Extends pavement lifespan. Regular crack filling significantly extends the life of your asphalt pavement. By addressing cracks promptly, you prevent them from progressing and developing into more extensive and costly problems that require major repairs or resurfacing.
  • Enhances curb appeal. Cracked pavement detracts from the overall appearance of your property. Filling the cracks helps restore the smoothness and visual appeal of your asphalt surface, creating a positive impression for residents, neighbors, visitors, or customers. 
  • Offers a cost-effective maintenance solution. Asphalt crack filling is a cost-effective preventive measure compared to the price tag for extensive repairs or resurfacing. By investing in crack filling, you minimize the need for costly repairs down the line, saving you money in the long run.

How to Fill Asphalt Cracks

Learning how to fill asphalt cracks will save you time and money down the road. Whether you tackle the project yourself or hire a professional, the crack filling process involves the following steps.

  • Cleaning.The cracks and surrounding areas need to be thoroughly cleaned before you begin. This involves removing dirt, debris, vegetation, and any loose asphalt fragments from the cracks. A broom, leaf blower, pressure washer, or wire brush can be used for effective cleaning. If moss is growing, a spray bottle filled with bleach can be used to kill it. Let the surface dry completely before continuing.
  • Crack preparation.To ensure proper adhesion, the cracks should be widened using a specialized crack routing machine to create a clean, uniform groove along the crack. This groove provides a larger surface area for the crack filler to bond with and helps remove any debris or loose material from within the crack.
  • Crack filling.Once the cracks are properly cleaned and prepared, a hot pour crack filler or rubberized asphalt emulsion is applied using either a pour pot or a crack sealing machine. The crack filler material fills the voids and forms a flexible, waterproof seal, preventing further moisture intrusion.
  • Smoothing and leveling. After the crack filler has been applied, it is smoothed and leveled using a squeegee or a specialized tool to ensure a uniform surface and optimal adherence to the surrounding pavement.
  • Curing. The crack filler needs time to cure and harden before the pavement can be used by vehicles again. Curing time varies depending on the specific crack filler material used and environmental conditions.

Asphalt crack filling is a critical maintenance practice that helps protect your pavement investment, extending its lifespan, enhancing its appearance, and preventing costly repairs. Addressing cracks promptly helps safeguard your asphalt surface against further deterioration caused by water infiltration, temperature fluctuations, and other environmental factors. Contact the professionals at Rock County Sealcoat for a free, no-obligation quote!