A Guide to the Different Types of Driveway Asphalt Damage

Even the most durable asphalt mixes will eventually need to be repaired. There are a number of different causes for asphalt damage, everything from seasonal weather conditions to uneven ground. But it’s not always easy to tell when you need to call a professional to repair your driveway asphalt, so the team from Blalock Paving has made things easier by creating this helpful guide.

Although asphalt driveways are designed to withstand heavy-duty wear and tear from cars, trucks, and the elements, they have a lifespan of 15-20 years. However, without proper care and maintenance they can begin to show signs of wear after only 3-5 years, so below are some of the most common warning signs.

The 9 Main Types of Driveway Asphalt Damage


  1. Alligator Cracks


Also referred to as fatigue cracks, alligator cracks are the most commonly known type of asphalt cracks. They appear as a large number of small cracks bearing a striking resemblance to alligator skin, hence the name. If such cracks appear on your concrete driveway it’s an indication that you have poor drainage on your driveway, or that the asphalt was installed improperly. Temperature fluctuations and repeated excessive loads can also exacerbate the issue. Unfortunately, since this type of damage demonstrates large-scale problems with all asphalt layers, often a total repatch is needed.

  1. Block Cracks


As the name implies, block cracks look like large squares or rectangles and are caused by your asphalt shrinking and expanding as the temperature changes. This is most often caused by improper binding agents in the asphalt mix and needs to be addressed ASAP to eliminate the need for replacing large blocks of asphalt later on.

  1. Linear Cracks


These cracks appear as long lines of cracks in your driveway and will typically run parallel to your asphalt’s centerline. Although most often linear cracks are caused by fatigue and heavy traffic, they can also be due to temperature changes and weak points in your pavement joints. Linear cracks that are half an inch or less can be easily sealed to prevent moisture from entering them and creating further damage. Longer ones will often require an asphalt overlay.

  1. Edge Cracks


Often found one or two feet inside the pavement surface, edge cracks run lengthwise and are caused by a number of things such as the roots from trees and shrubs planted near your driveway, or the settling of underlying soil. Additionally, edge cracks are also the result of improper drainage and the absence of proper support along the edges of your driveway. The best way to minimize and avoid edge cracks is to remove trees and shrubs at the side of your driveway and repair drainage problems as soon as they arise.

  1. Transverse Cracks


Unlike linear cracks, which run along your pavement line, transverse cracks run perpendicular to it. They can be caused by poor asphalt driveway installation, extreme changes in temperatures, and when your asphalt shrinks. The best way to repair such cracks is by sealcoating your asphalt, or in more extreme cases, replacing that area of your pavement.

  1. Potholes


Potholes can be particularly damaging to not only your asphalt driveway but the vehicles that use it, and your driveway’s foundation as well. They’re caused by water regularly seeping in through the cracks in your asphalt and eroding the ground soil beneath and can quickly develop into sinkholes if left untouched. Often a precursor to potholes is large areas of alligator cracks, which eventually crumble away, allowing moisture to seep in and create those unsightly, damaging potholes. The best repair is by adding a full-depth replacement patch of driveway asphalt to them.

  1. Depressions


Also referred to as “birdbaths,” depressions in your driveway asphalt are sections that are slightly lower in elevation than the rest of your pavement and can be easily seen after it rains because they’ll contain puddles. Again, a simple patch is all that’s needed for repairs, unless they’re drastically under the elevation of the rest of your driveway; in this case, they’ll need a full-depth patch.

  1. Raveling


When driveway asphalt completely disintegrates it’s known as raveling. This can be particularly harmful as not only does it reduce skid resistance and can make driving more difficult but it can also expose the underlying layer of your asphalt. Raveling is due to the dislodging of the aggregate materials (stone, sand, and gravel) of your asphalt. Thankfully, since it only affects the surface it can be repaired with a simple asphalt overlay.

  1. Rutting


Last but certainly not least, rutting is when over time your driveway’s asphalt forms to the tracks your vehicles make when parking in the same place repeatedly. There are a range of causes for rutting from weak asphalt mixes to lack of compaction during installation. Additionally, heavy traffic or equipment can make the issue worse. Lightly rutted areas can be filled and overlayed but more serious cases will require a replacement.

Contact us today for driveway asphalt repair, replacement, and more!


For professional and affordable asphalt repair or replacement, or commercial and residential concrete paving, contact us online today or call (919) 782-5740.