Asphalt Pavement

Asphalt is one of the most durable, versatile, and resilient paving materials in the world. It’s also incredibly low maintenance and cost-effective compared to other types of paving materials and aggregates such as concrete. That’s why asphalt is one of the top paving materials of choice for parking lots, roads and commercial, residential, and industrial properties.

Despite all of the positive points in favour of asphalt, however, it’s not completely invincible and does require some level of special care and maintenance from time to time, starting with proper construction and application. Failing to maintain and repair asphalt properly can lead to a series of wear and tear related damages over time. Here is a list of the 10 most common asphalt pavement problems and how to resolve them.

Alligator Cracking

Alligator cracking is exactly what it sounds like. Consisting of a series of hairline fractures that intersect with one another in a lattice-like formation, this type of cracking resembles the dry and cracked skin of an alligator.

Ignoring this type of cracking will only worsen the damages over time as vehicles of all sizes and weight capacities continue to drive on the pavement. Eventually, alligator cracking can expand further into potholes, which are more expensive and difficult to repair.

Solution: Alligator cracking is typically a sign of a deep-seated structural problem and should therefore be carefully investigated. A simple patch job won’t do the trick. Depending on the extent and depth of the damage, the most effective method is to remove the damaged portion of the asphalt if it’s localized, compact the base aggregate, and then patch up the area. If the cracking has spread throughout the pavement, then a complete asphalt overlay may be required.

Longitudinal Cracking

Longitudinal cracks are long fractures that run along the length of the pavement and go from end of the structure to another down the centreline or slightly off-centre in the direction that the pavement was installed. Pavement fatigue as a result of age, excessive use, or lack of proper maintenance is usually to blame. Another common culprit is improper construction and installation from the get-go.

Solution: Small longitudinal cracks that are a half inch or less in depth and width can easily be sealed or patched to prevent water from infiltrating the surface and causing further damage. Larger cracks require overhauling the whole surface area, removing, and replacing the asphalt with a new aggregate.

Transverse Cracking

Transverse cracks develop perpendicular to the centreline of the asphalt structure usually in the direction in which the aggregate was originally laid. Like some longitudinal crack formations, transverse cracks can also be caused by low-quality construction or as a result of reflective cracks deep beneath the surface or close to the foundation of the asphalt pavement.

Solution: The reparative process for transverse cracking is the same as longitudinal cracking.

Edge Cracking

As the name suggests, edge cracking develops at the very corners or near the sides of the pavement and works its way in toward the middle of the structure. This is usually the result of a weak foundation or lack of proper support along the outer edging of the pavement. If you notice crack formations on one side of the pavement structure, then it’s important to investigate all of the boundaries to guarantee that they have a strong enough internal support system to prevent further damages.

Solution: For the most part, repairing edge cracking is fairly simple. Minor cracks can be sealed or filled with a hot or cold patch. However, the deeper issue of the lack of proper support still needs to be addressed to prevent future cracking and that’s where the real work comes in.

Block Cracking

When crack formations occur in large square or rectangular patterns throughout your asphalt pavement, this is known as block cracking. This type of cracking usually occurs as a result of a weak binding agent in the asphalt aggregate. When the binding agent isn’t sufficient to begin with or it dissipates over time, the surface of the asphalt fails to contract and extract with temperature changes. Once block cracking starts in one surface area, it can easily spread all over your parking lot and eventually progress into more serious damages like potholes.

Solution: For smaller block cracks that cover 1.2 inches or less of a surface area, you can apply a sealer or perform a simple patch job to prevent the cracks from widening and moisture or debris from getting in. Sealcoat the surface area for added protection. Widespread block cracking that covers a surface area that’s larger than 1.2 inches will require the services of a professional commercial asphalt repair company in Toronto.

Joint Reflection Cracking

Joint reflection cracking occurs as a result of thermal and moisture fluctuations in the subbase of the asphalt pavement. Sudden temperature changes can cause the underlying PCC (Portland Cement Concrete) slabs to shift, which leads to the development of surface cracking. The cracks start to develop right above the internal pavement joints and can quickly spread throughout the surface of the asphalt. From an external perspective, joint reflection cracking can sometimes be mistaken for block cracking due to the square or rectangular patterns that develop on the surface.

Solution: Small joint reflection cracks that are close to the surface of the pavement can easily be repaired with a patch job or sealer. Larger cracks that are widespread throughout the pavement will require a complete asphalt overhaul and repaving using a stronger aggregate. It’s best to hire professional asphalt crack repair services in Toronto for large-scale pavement overhauls.

Slippage Cracking

Shaped like crescents or half-moons, slippage cracks are the result of a lack of cohesion and proper compaction between two different layers of asphalt pavement. This usually happens when a surface repair has been improperly administered in which new asphalt is placed on top of existing or foundational asphalt aggregate without guaranteeing the two mixtures are harmoniously combined with one another. Over time, this asphalt defect can develop as a result of exposure to dirt, contaminants, oil spillage, or other types of leaks from vehicles that can break down the weak bonding agent in the asphalt aggregate.

Solution: The only way to repair slippage cracking is to partially or completely remove the asphalt in the affected area and replace it with a new aggregate.


Potholes always start off as small cracks and continue to expand as they come into contact with various environmental factors such as weather elements or constant usage of the asphalt pavement. As time goes on, moisture and debris can also penetrate the surface of the asphalt pavement, causing internal damages such as a tunneling effect. Standing water in the form of puddles can also lead to pothole formation in the shape of a bowl. The longer puddles sit on the same spot and are driven over, the deeper the depression becomes.

Solution: Depending on the size, depth, and severity of the pothole, there are several repair options used by asphalt pavement sealing contractors in Toronto: infrared asphalt patching, spray patching, or asphalt removal and repaving.

Dips and Depressions, aka Bird Baths

Dips and depressions are an indication that your asphalt pavement may have a weak spots or a frail structural foundation and lack of support in some areas. This can be caused by poor construction, load capacities that are far too heavy for the structural support system, or simply due to aging and lack of maintenance.

Untreated dips and depressions also collect runoff water from rain or melted snow, which prevents it from properly draining off of your property. Colloquially, these formations are also referred to as bird baths because they have an oval shape and often attract a lot of birds that like to drink from the puddles.

Solution: First, figure out the source of the asphalt failure. Then, either patch the affected area if the damage is minimal or hire a commercial asphalt pavement repair company in Toronto to repave your asphalt property for you.


Rutting occurs due to a lack of proper asphalt compaction during the construction process. When asphalt is initially laid down, all of the different subgrades need to come together to form a uniform, yet porous mixture to allow for flexibility in movement and expansion and contraction in light of changing temperatures and moisture levels. If the asphalt aggregate is too rigid, this prevents it from contracting and extracting and causes it to crack instead. Ruts are a form of depression, except they take on a lateral formation instead of an oval or bowl-like shape.

 Solution: Fix minor rutting with a simple sealer or patch. Severe rutting requires a complete asphalt overlay to address the root cause of the defect.

To learn more about the different types of asphalt pavement problems and how to appropriately fix them to prevent further pavement failure, contact the commercial asphalt crack repair experts at Sure-Seal Pavement Maintenance Inc.