Just Say No To Crack(s)!

How to Identify Cracks that Need Repair in Your Parking Lot

Spring is on the horizon and it is officially time to begin evaluating your asphalt parking lot or roadway for repairs. And if you are wondering…YES! You should be doing this every year. Unfortunately, many business owners or property managers don’t know what they are looking for on their parking lot or asphalt surface. Our goal is to help you understand how to identify issues with your parking lot that may be in need of repair. By understanding when your asphalt surface is need or repair, you will be able to identify these issues early on and potentially save thousands of dollars in future repairs.

In order to properly address the problem areas on your asphalt surface, we need to know exactly what is going on. To discover these issues, we must ask ourselves a few important questions:

WHAT types of cracks are we dealing with?

WHY did the asphalt crack?

HOW do we fix the cracks?

Read below discover our WHAT, WHY and HOW for your asphalt surface!


1. Linear Cracks

Linear cracks, also known as longitudinal cracks or joint cracks, are long cracks that run along the surface. Usually surface cracks develop first along the joints. A joint is created each time the paving machine makes a pass across the parking lot and are usually between 8’ and 18’ feet in width. Eventually, these joints will begin to separate and water will settle beneath surface. During the winter, the moisture beneath the surface will freeze and expand. This will put upward pressure on the asphalt surface and begin to cause cracking. If you see linear cracks larger than ¼” inch wide, they must be addressed immediately in order to prevent further moisture and debris from penetrating the surface, creating further damage.

Linear Asphalt Cracks

2. Alligator Cracks

Alligator cracks look exactly how they sound – like the scales of an alligator. Perhaps the easiest type pf cracks to identify, alligator cracks are usually found in high traffic areas. High traffic, heavy loads or interconnecting linear cracks are the top causes for alligator cracking. The excess activity around this area of the asphalt surface will create a significant amount of pressure on the asphalt and eventually it will begin to separate.

Alligator Asphalt Cracks

3. Edge Cracks

Edge cracks are found around the perimeter of your parking lot or roadway. Vehicle tires may come to rest near the edge of your parking lot and begin to push the surface outward, causing cracking. As rain water runs off the surface and over the edges, it may bring portions of the sub-base with it a little at a time. After many years, the outside edges (especially without curb) will become weakened and cracks will begin to form and spread among the surface.

Edge Asphalt Cracks

4. Sink Holes

The easiest way to identify sink holes is by waiting for a heavy rain and then searching the surface for large puddles (bird baths). If the water is deeper than 1/2″ inch in the center over a relatively small area, you may have a sink hole issue. Sink holes are caused by a weak sub-base or heavy loads. Sink holes are not always accompanied by significant amounts of cracking – at first. If left unattended, sink holes can lead to major, costly issues and cracking. Since the sub-base is the most important aspect of a strong asphalt surface, any sink holes must be addressed immediately and seriously.

Asphalt Sink Hole

5. Rutting Cracks

Rutting cracks are usually caused by vehicle tires that are too heavy for the surface or heavy objects that have been sitting for long periods of time. In order to identify rutting cracks, search for indentations in areas where vehicles have sat for long periods of time or where semi-trucks, delivery trucks or trash trucks frequent. Rutting cracks may look innocent but these impressions can transfer into much larger cracks if not addressed.

Rutting Asphalt Cracks

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1. Improper Installation

Every year we deal with property managers and business owners who have been the unfortunate victims of a poorly installed asphalt surface. Due to budget constraints, choosing an asphalt paving contractor with the lowest price can be very enticing.  However, many low price contractors often use low grade materials, do not have the proper equipment and cut corners from the subbase to the surface. When an asphalt surface is installed properly, it should last several years before any major cracks begin to form. Regardless of the price, if an asphalt contractor tells you they are the best – don’t take their word for it. Call around to be sure they are who they claim to be and ask to see work they have done in your area.

2. Old Age

Everything in life deteriorates eventually and your asphalt surface and subbase is no exception. As soon as your asphalt surface is constructed it will begin to deteriorate. The earth is constantly shifting beneath the surface which weakens the subgrade. Dirt and water seep below the asphalt, corroding its properties.  Over time trees, plants and roots will begin to evade – especially if not contained. Even if your asphalt surface has been installed correctly, deterioration is inevitable and it will begin to crack.

3. Heavy Loads/High Traffic

Heavy loads and high traffic can take an enormous toll on an asphalt surface. If the surface has undergone a tremendous amount of pressure – it will begin to crack. Often times, paving contractors fail to plan for areas that are meant to withstand heavy loads and high traffic. If you have major deliveries, large trucks or heavy equipment driving on your asphalt surface regularly, you have a much higher chance of seeing large cracks develop.

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Cracks are typically filled using hot rubberized crack sealant. Hot rubberized crack sealant protects the gaps in your surface from the elements and helps to maintain the bond. In many cases, if the cracks are too large for hot rubberized crack sealant, patching may be necessary.

However, every situation is different. The best solution to your issues is always to call an asphalt paving contractor (or two) that you trust! Most asphalt paving companies are more than happy to come out, walk your parking lot, and offer a solution that is right for you. Preventative maintenance is key with any asphalt surface. You should have your surface evaluated by an asphalt professional every year to identify issues and help you plan for future repairs. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Say no to cracks as soon as they appear and save thousands of dollars in major repairs!

For more information on how to care for you parking lot, visit The Ultimate Parking Lot Maintenance Plan

Need an asphalt paving contractor in the greater Baltimore/DC area? Contact Us Now for a free evaluation of your asphalt paving surface! 410-477-4406


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