Asphalt Pavement 101: Identifying And Repairing Asphalt Defects

Key Takeaways:

  1. Asphalt is a popular paving material for surfaces like roads and driveways because it is durable and long-lasting.
  2. Over time, asphalt can develop cracks and other defects that must be repaired. The most common are alligator cracking, transverse or linear cracking, edge cracking, block cracking, corrugations, bleeding, and potholes.
  3. Asphalt pavement should be regularly inspected for damage and cracks. It is also vital to sealcoat every two to three years and fills any cracks immediately.
  4. Snow and ice should be removed with sand or salt instead of shovels or plows. Oversized vehicles should not be parked in one spot for an extended period, as this can lead to uneven settling.


Asphalt is one of the most popular materials for making level surfaces like roads, driveways, and parking lots. It’s so popular that more than 94% of US paved roads use asphalt as the primary paving material. It’s durable, long-lasting, and can handle a lot of wear and tear.

Asphalt can develop defects over time that need to be repaired. Paradise Asphalt Maintenance discusses the most common pavement defects and how to fix them. We’ll also provide tips on keeping your asphalt pavement in good condition.

Major Asphalt Pavement Problems to be Aware of

Over time asphalt driveways and parking lots are susceptible to damage. These pavement problems can become a nuisance for property owners, creating safety hazards and tarnishing the property’s curb appeal. Here are the major asphalt pavement problems that can occur:

1. Alligator Cracking

This is characterized by a network of cracks that resemble an alligator’s scales. It occurs when the underlying base or subbase fails and causes the asphalt surface to shift and become unstable. Alligator cracking is typically caused by using a weak subbase or the pavement not being thick enough for the amount of vehicle traffic it receives.


Alligator cracking can be addressed by using a combination of pavement patching and resurfacing to strengthen the underlying base. The affected area must have its surface layer removed, then patched with asphalt mix, followed by installing an asphalt overlay. It’s best to consult with a professional asphalt contractor first and hire them to do the job.

2. Transverse or Linear Cracking

Linear cracking, also called longitudinal or linear, appears along pavement joints. When construction workers lay asphalt across large surfaces, they generally do so in strips or sections. Suppose the connecting points between sections are not made correctly. In that case, cracks will form over time due to temperature changes and water exposure. It can cause the sections to separate, eventually allowing water to enter and corrode the pavement’s surface.


Maintaining good drainage and filling any cracks with a mixture of asphalt and sand or emulsion slurry is crucial to avoid water damage.

3. Edge Cracking

There are usually two reasons for edge cracking in asphalt: low structural integrity and poor drainage. Also, when vehicles regularly drive on the pavement’s edge, it causes further strain and contributes to cracking. It can also be caused when the asphalt mix isn’t thick or too thin.


To solve this problem, you should fill existing cracks with a mixture of asphalt emulsion and sand. Add extra base material along the edges so your surface remains level and can bear heavy traffic.

4. Block Cracking

Two to three years after you install your asphalt pavement, you may start to see cracks that appear in squares or circles. These block cracks occur when the mix is too dry or old.


Unlike other cracks, block cracks do not go into the sub-layers. As a result, thin overlays or surface treatment can fix these kinds of cracks and help prevent them from happening.

5. Corrugations

It occurs when the pavement forms a bump on the surface. It happens when the pavement has settled unevenly and worsens over time, leading to excessive tire wear. The primary reason is using incorrect material for creating an asphalt driveway or parking lot.


We recommend full-depth patching of affected areas to fix the issue.

6. Bleeding

Ever wonder why your asphalt driveway or parking lot sometimes has a thin layer of oil that comes out when a car drives over it? It is called bleeding, which happens when there’s too much binder in the pavement. The excess binder makes the surface slick and dangerous to drive.


For a quick fix, you could spread sand over the road surface to absorb the binder or get a professional to power-wash the area. Sometimes, you may need to re-apply asphalt to fix the problem in your asphalt driveway or parking lot.

7. Potholes

Potholes are more than just an annoyance; they can represent a severe hazard. They occur when water seeps into cracks in the pavement and causes the asphalt to erode. However, other factors can cause them as well. As the name suggests, they form large holes in the asphalt, which can be hazardous for cars. Every year US drivers suffer billions worth of damages due to them.

If you’re dealing with potholes on your property, taking care of them as soon as possible is essential.


The most effective way to fix a pothole is to cut out the damaged asphalt and replace it with fresh material. You’ll also need to ensure that any underlying problems, such as water infiltration or drainage issues, are addressed before you start repairs. Contact an asphalt contractor to help with the job.

Asphalt Maintenance Tips

Asphalt Pavement problems can be a real hassle. Still, through proper maintenance, you can prolong the life of your pavement and avoid costly repairs. Here’s what we recommend for maintaining your asphalt driveways and parking lots.

  1. Regularly inspect for cracks, potholes, and other damage. As soon as you notice a problem area, address it promptly.
  2. Seal coat your asphalt every two to three years. It helps protect the pavement from water infiltration and UV damage.
  3. Fill cracks immediately with a crack filler or sealant to prevent further damage from occurring.
  4. Keep drains free of debris, leaves, and other materials that can clog them up and cause water to pool on your asphalt surface.
  5. When snow and ice accumulate on the pavement surface, use sand or salt to help melt it away instead of relying solely on shovels and plows for removal.
  6. Avoid large parking vehicles in one spot for an extended period, leading to uneven settling.

Related: How Often Do You Need Asphalt Paving, Repair & Maintenance Services?


Asphalt pavement needs to be checked and serviced regularly to ensure its durability. By doing so, you avoid future costly repairs or replacements. When choosing an asphalt paving contractor, find a reliable professional who will do the job well. 

Looking for the best asphalt paving, repair, and maintenance services in Overland Park, KS? Look no further than Paradise Asphalt Maintenance! We follow the best practices and are one of Kansas’s most renowned asphalt paving contractors. Get in touch for a free estimate today.