Top 5 Causes of Asphalt Deterioration

April, 16, 2022 By CASSIDY PAVING 4 min read
Asphalt deterioration near a drain

There’s a reason asphalt is so commonly used for roads, driveways, and parking lots. This petroleum-based material is cost-effective, fast-drying, smooth yet slip-resistant, and highly durable. Over time, however, even the toughest asphalt surfaces wear down. We’ve all seen pavement that’s lost its color, become riddled with cracks and holes, or begun to crumble. In order to keep up with asphalt maintenance, you must first understand the various factors that threaten your asphalt in the first place. Let’s explore the top five causes of asphalt deterioration.

Top Five Causes of Asphalt Deterioration

1. Moisture

What can water really do to asphalt? As it turns out: plenty of damage. Asphalt is porous, meaning small particles can make their way inside the material. So, when water lands on your pavement, it will slowly penetrate the surface – then, as temperatures fluctuate, the invading moisture will expand and contract, forcing the asphalt to move with it. Over time, enough moisture intrusion can create cracks in your asphalt, which then offer larger openings for additional moisture and other materials to enter. If you don’t invest in minor asphalt repairs to fill these cracks and redirect water away from your asphalt via gutters, drainage systems, and catch basins, your pavement will enter a vicious cycle that accelerates deterioration.

2. Pressure

Most asphalt surfaces are designed to hold heavy vehicles, machines, and structures. All of this weight delivers constant pressure, which eventually takes a toll on your pavement. A highly active asphalt parking lot, road, or driveway will wear down faster than a calmer one for this very reason. You’ll find that the areas of your pavement that are most heavily used will need the most attention when it’s time to conduct maintenance and repairs.

3. Sunlight

The sun might be more than 93 million miles away, but even at this distance, it can contribute to your asphalt’s deterioration. Darker surfaces absorb sunlight, so asphalt acts like a giant sponge for ultraviolet radiation – if you’ve ever touched blacktop with your bare hands or feet on a sweltering summer day, you know how hot it can get. As asphalt surfaces heat up, they become dry, loose, and soft, making them more susceptible to all forms of damage (e.g., cracking, raveling). Sunlight also contributes to asphalt oxidation, causing the blacktop to fade. Properly sealcoating your asphalt will shield it from the sun, mitigating this form of degradation.

4. Chemicals

Most asphalt surfaces are no strangers to chemicals like gasoline and oil thanks to the number of vehicles they endure. That said, it’s important to do whatever you can to protect your pavement from chemical exposure, as certain chemicals quickly eat away at the material. Once again, the barrier provided by blacktop sealcoating creates a buffer that keeps chemicals from directly damaging the asphalt. As for protecting your personal driveway from chemical corrosion, take good care of your vehicle(s) to ensure that there are no leaks.

5. Extreme Temperatures

Asphalt contractors have their work cut out for them in regions that experience cold winters and hot summers like New England. As mentioned earlier, the high heat delivered by the sun’s rays weakens asphalt. Conversely, the frigid temperatures found during winter don’t do asphalt surfaces any favors, either. When things get really cold, asphalt undergoes contraction, straining it from the inside out and creating cracks. Likewise, freezing temperatures cause any moisture trapped inside the asphalt to freeze, which expands the asphalt. This freeze-thaw cycle that occurs every winter is largely to blame for all the cracks and potholes revealed come springtime.

Some asphalt deterioration is inevitable. That said, you can greatly reduce the extent of this damage with proper maintenance and repair services. At Cassidy Paving, we offer comprehensive asphalt services to our commercial clients in the region, including milling, cutting and patching, full-depth reconstruction, reclamation, sealcoating, and much more. Call us today at 866-978-9788 to receive a free estimate on your next asphalt project.

Filed Under: Asphalt

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Based in Haverhill, MA, Cassidy Paving is a commercial paving company serving southern NH and Massachusetts.

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