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Reasons for Asphalt Deterioration

Asphalt is a remarkably strong material. In fact, if properly maintained, an asphalt surface typically lasts for many, many years. But nothing lasts forever. Over time, even a surface as durable as asphalt will begin to deteriorate. If you’ve noticed that your asphalt is showing signs of wear and tear – like crumbling around the edges, cracking, potholes, or depressions in the surface, for example – here are some of the most likely reasons why that is happening.

  • Water damage: One of the most common reasons for asphalt deterioration is water damage. Water and asphalt don’t mix. If your paved surface doesn’t have adequate drainage, or if there are cracks in the surface that allow water to penetrate into the sublayer, the asphalt will begin to break down.
  • Sunlight exposure: If your paved surface is exposed to an abundance of sunlight over a period of years, the surface can begin to crack. This occurs when sunlight breaks down the glue-like substance that holds asphalt together.
  • Oxidation: As asphalt ages – and also as a result of exposure to the elements – oxidation will begin to take place. That happens when the “glue” that binds the asphalt together dries out. You can easily see if your surface has oxidized because it will turn from a black to a gray color.
  • Heavy traffic: If your asphalt surface is a paved parking lot or roadway, heavy traffic could be the cause of deterioration, particularly if the surface has not been adequately maintained.
  • Vehicle fluids: Substances like gas, oil, and other fluids that leak from vehicles can damage asphalt. Periodic cleaning of the paved surface can prevent this from happening.
  • Poor construction: If you notice signs of deterioration in a relatively new asphalt surface, it’s possible that the asphalt was poorly installed to begin with, or that poor quality materials were used.

Early deterioration of an asphalt surface could be due to improper compaction during construction, inadequate drainage, or pouring of asphalt in bad weather conditions.

Assuming that your asphalt was installed properly, you can usually avoid deterioration by simply maintaining your asphalt. This involves making sure the surface is kept clean and seal coating is applied as often as necessary in order to protect the pavement. The specific steps required to properly maintain your asphalt surface vary depending on your climate, so contact a trusted local paving contractor for more information about how to care for your paved surface.