Asphalt Sealcoating Makes Sure Your Surfaces are Ready for Fall and Winter
Compared to past summers, this one hasn’t been too unbearable, yet. For humans, that is. However, asphalt surfaces are still vulnerable to the sun’s rays, heat, as well as rain. Summer heat takes a toll on asphalt because it deteriorates the compounds mixed in asphalt that holds it together. Once those bonds and glues begin breaking down, asphalt dries out, can start to crumble and weakens the existing sealcoating. This process accelerates if your asphalt surface withstands the strain of high volume and/or heavy-weight traffic. Asphalt sealcoating keeps a protective layer between sun and other damage and the asphalt.
The Details Behind How Sun Damages Asphalt
Asphalt is aggregate held together by a bonding compound, a glue so to speak. Daily exposure to sun’s rays and heat dries out the compound like it dries out the ground as water evaporates. Similar to how the ground turns hard and cracks, so does asphalt, and it becomes brittle. At this point, asphalt is less flexible and can’t handle traffic or temperature changes as well as it first did. The asphalt shrinks, cracks and then water and run-off with chemicals and petroleum seep through, causing further damage and quicker deterioration all the way down to the asphalt’s base. In the end, sun and water break down asphalt at the lowest layers and measurably decreases its lifespan of the entire asphalt area.
Types of Asphalt Cracks and What Causes Them
- Alligator/Fatigue Cracking
These cracks get their name from their looks, the dry, fractured skin on alligators. Alligator cracks are very common, caused by insufficient foundational materials, a poor drainage system and harsh summer and winter weather conditions. These cracks are serious because they indicate asphalt erosion underneath any asphalt sealing. These need immediate repair because they can quickly become more expensive to fix the longer you wait. Depending on the situation, new asphalt sealing could be enough to make the surface last much longer.
- Block Cracking
Block cracking looks as it sounds. The cracks are connected and the surface looks broken into rectangular pieces. Block cracking usually occurs over a large portion of pavement area, but can also be found in areas that don’t see a lot of traffic. Block cracking occurs for a few different reasons. Either the aggregate was too dry when it was originally applied, or the sun and heat have dried it out too much over time. Cold temperatures can also be to blame, which cause significant shrinkage in the asphalt aggregate. It’s fixed easily with asphalt sealing.
- Edge Cracking
Edge cracks start on the side of the road or area and spread toward the center over time. These are a huge safety hazard for vehicles and need to be repaired immediately. If left untreated, edge cracking leads to more cracks, which leads to damaged vehicles and unhappy drivers or higher maintenance costs on company vehicles.
- Longitudinal Cracks
Longitudinal cracks happen parallel to the pavement’s centerline. They’re caused by poorly constructed joints, asphalt shrinkage, cracks trickling up from a lower layer and improper paver operation at install. Weather conditions make matter worse, but these cracks can be usually repaired easily with asphalt sealing.
- Transverse Cracking
Running the opposite direction of longitudinal cracking, transverse cracks are perpendicular and result mainly from extremely low temperatures and heavy overuse that widens the cracks more. Transverse cracking usually happens on main roads or in high-traffic parking lots. Asphalt sealing is essential to preventing these cracks and protecting repairs.
- Reflective Cracking
Reflective cracking more often than not indicates problems below the surface. These cracks extend from the asphalt’s foundation to the top layer. Filling cracks quickly is essential and asphalt sealing protects the filler.
- Slippage Cracking
Slippage cracks are crescent-shaped and are to blame for dreaded potholes, especially if the area has constant, high-volume traffic. They usually happen with aggregate with a high sand content, which prevents it from properly bonding to the other composite materials. Depending on the size and level of damage, a partial or full-depth patch is the solution, and asphalt sealing over that.
Asphalt Sealing Slows Down the Effects of Damage
The best and most effective way to slow down the effects of damage (cracks) is to apply asphalt sealing. Sealcoating acts as a protective barrier that is applied on top of the asphalt, protecting it from the sun, water and various chemicals. Think of asphalt sealing like a waterproof layer that will slow down the oxidization process caused by the sun and help your asphalt repel and shed water more easily, which stops it from penetrating the asphalt and getting to the base. In short, lengthening your asphalt’s life span. As a bonus, asphalt sealing evens out the surface for a better appearance.
Plus, You’ll Be Ready for Fall and Winter
Summer can do a number on your asphalt. Damage from sunlight is unavoidable in the Midwest. But, so does fall and winter. Temperatures fall as we transition into winter, plus rain and wind push moisture into even the smallest cracks, making them bigger. Schedule asphalt sealing while the weather is still on your side. Whether you’re not sure what kind of cracks or damage you have or the last time you had asphalt sealing done, MAC is here to help with your asphalt sealing. Contact us with any questions or request an estimate for your upcoming project.