Asphalt Crack Repair: Sealing Cracks vs Filling Cracks

Have you ever noticed, when you travel on a smooth, damage-free asphalt surface, your tires don’t bounce? This is one of the many wonders of asphalt.

The fact is, asphalt is a staple in modern society. In fact, up to 94 percent of all roads are paved with this material.

Unfortunately, due to extreme weather conditions, high heat, and continuous traffic, no asphalt surface is going to remain smooth and perfect forever. When issues do occur, contacting the pros for asphalt crack repair is a must.

The question is – what method is best? There are two main methods used for fixing cracks in asphalt:

  1. Sealing the cracks
  2. Filling the cracks

Each option has both pros and cons, and some cracks are better fixed with one option than the other. Keep reading to learn more about these crack repair methods to know which one to use.

The Common Types of Asphalt Cracks

Before jumping into the various repair methods, it’s a good idea to get to know the types of cracks that most commonly occur. These are listed here.

Transverse Cracks

This type of crack extends in a perpendicular direction to the laydown direction or centerline of the pavement. The main cause of this crack is thermal shifts.

Longitudinal Cracks

A longitudinal crack runs parallel to the laydown direction or centerline of the pavement. They typically appear after transverse cracks have already appeared.

The cause of this crack is poor lane join construction, asphalt hardening, shifts in temperature, and pavement shrinkage.

Edge Cracks

An edge crack is going to form between the pavement edge and the concrete curbs. This type of crack is the result of the seasonal thaw cycles, which result in the deepening and widening of the crack.

Seam Cracks

If you see a crack along the joints of the pavement, then this is a seam crack. This usually occurs due to poor paving procedures.

Block Cracks

A block crack is going to develop in square pieces and typically spaced between four and 12 feet. In many cases, they appear when the pavement reaches the end of its life.

This is often the result of improper construction of the base courses of a lack of proper drainage.

Reflective Cracks

If the sub-base of the asphalt begins to move, then it can cause the surface material to crack. Correcting the sub-base courses will help eliminate reflective cracks.

Alligator Cracking

If you notice a series of interconnecting cracks that are pretty extensive, then you are dealing with alligator cracks. These are going to be close together and resemble the skin on an alligator.

The main cause of this is deterioration in the asphalt due to repeated traffic loading.

Now that you fully understand the different types of asphalt cracks that can occur, it’s a good idea to learn which repair method is best. This takes careful consideration, so be sure to read the specifics carefully.

Understanding Crack Sealing

When repairing asphalt cracks, this method uses a hot sealant to the working cracks. The goal is to prevent water intrusion.

Working cracks are those that are vertical or horizontal movements in cracks that are over 0.1 inches. One example of a working crack is a transverse crack.

What is Used as a Crack Sealant?

A crack sealant is rubberized and can seal the crack while remaining flexible with the movement of the pavement.

This method is beneficial or active cracks that are growing in severity and size. The sealants help to stop any water or debris from getting into the crack, protecting the pavements longevity.

Crack sealing is the more expensive of the two repair methods, but provides more value, because it is going to last longer.

Understanding Crack Filling

With crack filling, asphalt emulsion is placed into a non-working crack to reduce the infiltration of water and to reinforce the adjacent pavement.

A non-working crack is a horizontal or vertical movement in the crack that’s under 0.1 inches. Some examples of a non-working crack include alligator, diagonal, and longitudinal cracks.

In contrast to the crack sealing process, crack filling works to treat the pavement when it doesn’t show any significant signs of movement.

The Effectiveness of Filling for Asphalt Crack Repair

Crack filling is a more affordable option when repairing cracks. While it requires a lower initial investment, over time it may require more frequent treatments to keep the cracks away.

If the crack is subject to expanding or contracting, then filling is not the right repair option. The most common crack filling materials include cutbacks, asphalt emulsions, and liquid asphalt.

Repairing Asphalt Cracks: What’s the Right Option?  

When trying to figure out whether you should seal or fill an asphalt crack, the best option is to talk with the professionals.

They can evaluate the type of crack you are dealing with, the expected movement in the pavement, and whether or not it is a non-working or working crack.

In most cases, a transverse crack is the first type to appear in pavement surfaces. But it isn’t uncommon for other types of cracks to develop at the same time. The worst thing you can do is ignore these problems.

Fix Asphalt Cracks Before They Get Worse

When it comes to asphalt crack repair, using the right method is going to ensure the issue won’t come back. Keep in mind, if you aren’t sure whether or not one method is better than the other, it’s a good idea to reach out to the professionals.

If you need help with asphalt crack repair, then it’s a good idea to contact us.

Our team has the skills, ability, and expertise to ensure all cracks and issues are repaired in a timely and efficient manner.

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