How to Fill Asphalt Cracks

parking lot with asphalt cracks
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Asphalt is a durable, affordable material that’s ideal for paving large areas, including roads and parking lots. However, exposure to UV rays, water, and oil, along with constant pressure from vehicles can lead to cracking.  Fortunately, filling cracks in asphalt is an inexpensive, efficient way to prolong the life of your paved road or parking lot and prevent serious problems. 

Our line striping and asphalt repair company is sharing how crack filling asphalt works, when it can be used and when it may not be the right option. 

What Causes Surface Cracks in Asphalt?

Asphalt is made out of aggregates like crushed rock, sand, and gravel, and is held together with a binder. The binder is liquid substance that gives the material flexibility to expand and contract when the temperature changes. Over time, UV rays and temperature fluctuations cause the asphalt to dry out, which makes it more brittle. 

Once the asphalt is dried out, pressure from vehicles and additional exposure can cause surface cracks to form. Water can get into the cracks, and as it heats and cools with temperature changes, it can widen the cracks and cause significant and rapid deterioration. Before more significant damage occurs, including buckled pavement and potholes that require extensive, expensive repairs, it’s important to repair the voids with a commercial grade crack sealant or filler. 

Asphalt Crack Filler vs. Asphalt Crack Sealer

The terms “crack filling” and “crack sealing” are considered interchangeable, but sealers and fillers are actually different materials. For smaller, transverse cracks across parking lots that are generally less than a half-inch wide, crack sealants are an excellent option. 

Asphalt crack filler is generally used for more severe cracks, such as those located near the edge of roads, wider gaps, or “alligator” cracking – an area of deteriorated asphalt in which the cracks are interconnected and extensive, looking like alligator skin.  

What Is Asphalt Crack Sealant Made From?

Crack sealant is a rubberized, elastomeric material that is liquid when poured into the asphalt void, even when it’s poured during cool temperatures. As it fills the crack, it bonds to the material, effectively preventing any moisture from getting to the pavement and causing additional damage or expanding the crack. Once it’s dry, the sealant maintains a rubberized texture and flexible nature. This allows the material to shift and flex without breaking, pulling away, or splitting, even during cold weather or with UV exposure.  

What Is Asphalt Crack Filler Made From? 

Asphalt crack filler is made to be poured when hot, and consists of a rubberized asphalt emulsion that is a liquid when heated and solid when cool. Because it offers the durability of asphalt while still being water resistant and flexible, it’s better for larger areas of damage. 

How Are Cracks in Asphalt Repaired ? 

To ensure the crack is filled or sealed properly, it’s important to not take any shortcuts or skip steps. First, the crack is cleaned out of any loose gravel, debris, or weeds, and any broken chunks or loose pieces or asphalt are removed. For smaller cracks, the crack sealer is carefully poured into the crack and a roller goes over to smooth out the sealant. 

Deeper cracks repaired with a hot filler are repaired in a similar fashion. The area is cleaned out thoroughly of any dirt and debris, but to ensure the filler adheres properly, a tack coat may need to be applied. This is often only used in the most severe asphalt cracks. After the tack coat is applied and cures for a few moments, an asphalt repair company will use a crack seal machine to heat the emulsion and install it into the cracks, filling the area. Then the mixture is smoothed out to ensure an even surface. 

After the crack is filled a sealcoat can be applied to protect the area from water, UV rays, and other things that may dry out the rubber or asphalt and possibly cause the crack to return sooner.

What Happens If You Don’t Fill Cracks in Asphalt?

Small to medium sized asphalt cracks are generally not going to affect driving conditions, but it’s still essential they are repaired. If damaged asphalt is ignored, water, temperature changes, and all of the factors that led to the crack in the first place will cause additional deterioration, including crumbling sections and pot holes. These are not just expensive and time-consuming to fix, it can lead to accidents, vehicle damage, and injury.

parking lot with asphalt cracks

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