An Overview of the Different Types of Pavement Cracks

Asphalt pavements are built to last, but they can gradually deteriorate due to many external factors. Most pavements may have frequent exposure to oil leaks, harsh weather, or heavy traffic. All these potential stressors can create cracks on your pavement.

Over time, the weight of vehicles driving over the cracks can break the asphalt layer and create potholes. If you don’t address pavement cracks early, your only option might be to repave the entire structure.

Below are different types of cracks to watch out for and prevent total pavement failure.

  1. Alligator Cracks

Alligator cracking often takes the form of an alligator’s skin at first glance (hence the name). These cracks consist of several tiny fissures on a specific section of your pavement.

Alligator cracks are more likely to show up if the asphalt surface installation was poorly designed. Other reasons may include:

  • Poor drainage
  • Extreme temperature variations
  • Excess traffic loads
  • Poor pavement maintenance

If you notice several alligator or fatigue cracks on your pavement’s substructure, act fast before the tiny cracks become gaping potholes.

Water might seep into the pavement’s foundation and make things even more difficult. Any water inside the gaps may freeze and thaw (especially during the colder months). This cycle can expand the cracks much quicker and weaken the pavement surface.

Alligator cracks are often a sign that most of the asphalt layers are already compromised. Your paving contractor might suggest a full correction exercise to restore your pavement’s structural integrity. This repair strategy ensures a watertight structure that seamlessly blends across the entire pavement surface.

  1. Transverse Cracks

Most times, asphalt installation works in sections. If two sections do not blend seamlessly together or don’t have proper design, transverse cracks might develop. Other common triggers for these cracks may include:

  • Shrinking of the asphalt coating
  • Frequent temperature fluctuation
  • Base layer structural failure

Following their expert diagnosis, your pavement contractor could fill these cracks with a mixture of sand and asphalt. They might also replace the cracked layer to further strengthen your pavement structure.

  1. Edge Cracks

Edge cracks appear from the side and run along the length of the pavement. Oftentimes, these cracks extend towards the center as they grow larger. These cracks can spread fast and create other problems if you take too long to fix them.

Edge cracking is more common in places with a lot of traffic or heavy vegetation. In addition, drainage issues can create moderate edge cracks that may worsen due to the freeze-thaw cycle. Still, if your pavement doesn’t have good support along the edges, cracks can develop much quicker than usual.

You can prevent massive edge cracks if you address the smaller cracks early before they become bigger. With routine maintenance, you can limit how quickly these cracks extend and increase your pavement’s lifespan. Your pavement contractor might apply a protective sealant on the asphalt layer to minimize harsh weather effects that can damage your pavement.

But despite your best efforts, edge cracks can still form. You may need help from an experienced paving contractor who might offer the following solutions:

  • Crack sealant application to close off smaller edge cracks in their early stages
  • Pavement patching or replacement for larger edge cracks that may be a result of other deeply seated issues

Your contractor could also suggest drainage improvements that can help avoid more cracks in the future. They could also get rid of any vegetation near your pavement’s edges that could trigger edge cracks.

If you need help with any pavement defects, contact Pinnacle Paving & Sealing today. Our experienced staff can offer you the right paving solutions for any issues you notice around your commercial property.