PO Box 565, Thorsby, Alberta T0C 2P0


We have all seen cracks in the asphalt before, some times they are rather large and have vegitation starting to grow from them, where as other ties it looks like something heavy pushed down through the pavement makeing a obscured checker board of cracking like the image below.

Here we will discuss the different types of cracks, why they form and how we can seal them and prevent further problems. There are several types of cracks, the most common cracks and the ones we will be discussing are:

There are several other types of cracking and pavement failure that we did not list but are happy to assist you with if you need.

What Causes Pavement Failure?

Before we start discussing the different types of cracks and their treatment it is important to understand what causes cracking, and what the desired end goal is. Asphalt Failure can happen for a number of reasons including but not limited; to Water Damage, Expansion and contraction due to our vast temperature changes, heat exposure, and weight from heavy vehicles. It is vital to maintain your asphalt with Crack Sealing to prevent the cracks from becoming larger and causing substantially more damage.

The primary reason that cracking happenings in your parking lot is changes is the asphalt's moisture levels, and our significant temperature swings. After heavy rains or snowfalls the water will soak into the pavement or possibly even into the base layer (the gravel layer below the asphalt). In the winters this moisture goes through a freeze thaw cycle creating most of the cracking in your parking lot; however in the summer it is the extreme heat that causes expansion and the pressure of this expansion causes cracking.

A couple additional factors to consider is the age of the asphalt and previous treatments such as: resurfacing, seal coating, crack sealing can all be detrimental factors why you might be seeing new cracks forming.

Pavement that has cracking in it should be treated sooner than later. By leaving it to the elements the cracks will become exageratted, and may start increasing in volume and size. The idea of crack sealing is to prevent water from getting into the base layer. If water saturates the base layer the repairs become significantly more involved which means more costly to you as well. As the base gets saturated it can start to shift or sink causing a much much larger area to be effected.

So how does crack repair/sealing work?

There are several different treatment methods to crack repairs. Each type of crack may have significantly different treatment options. Some of these methods are:

  • Crack Sealing
  • Crack Filling
  • Patching
  • Resurfacing

The one common goal of each treatment method is to ensure the surface is properly treated to minimize any additional moisture saturation. We will briefly discuss these repairs below. Please note there is significantly more information on crack sealing. If you have any questions or concerns please let us know so we can help!

Crack sealing is the application of an bitimouse emullsion to the crack. to coat it with a water proofing layer.

Crack Filling Is similar to crack sealing, but the entire crack is filled. This can be done with either a cold pour solution or a hot rubberized product

Patching This could be various different solutions depending on the cause of the problem, but for discussion purposes we will be referencing application of hot or cold applied assphalt patch This would typically be seen as a repair for potholes.

Resurfacing This is by far the most expensive option. If you are having to resurface due to significant asphalt deteriation, you will likely have to remove the damged area entirely, repair the base layer and then repave the surface. On a smaller scale this could be done for isolated problems, sometimes simply milling (taking the top layer of asphalt off by grinding) and filling with new asphalt is adequate.

Crack Filling


Linear and Transverse Cracking

This is the most common cracking. These cracks are typically long in length and relatively narrow. They appear to be random in nature. Longitudinal cracks run the same direction or parallel to the pavement centreline. Transverse cracks are the opposite and run perpendicular to the pavement or curb line. Transverse cracks are typically due to change in temperature of the asphalt (expansion and contraction), Longitudinal cracks could be caused from many factors such as a poor asphalt seam, expansion/contraction of the asphalt similarly.

The repair option for both is a surface treatment preventing moisture from entering the crack. Depending on the width and depth of the crack would be the deciding factor on treatment however the typical choice of repair is crack sealing or cracking filling.

linear cracking

Edge Cracking

Edge cracks are longitudinal cracks within a few feet of one of the edges of the pavement. This can be caused by settlement of the base layer, soil drying, or support issues. Possible causing factors can be nearby trees or shrubs, drainage problems, or poor compaction.

The surface repair typically seen for Edge Cracking is the application of an asphalt emulsion and doing a crack seal. Additional repairs may need to happen to correct the root cause of the problem

Edge Cracking


Aligator Cracking is also one of the more common cracks you will see. This is also commonly referred to as "fatigue cracking" This is typically caused by heavy loads being applied to the same area over and over. It can progressivly get worse by deterioration of a the base, subgrade, or surface. Poor drainage can be a factor. You will likely see this if you ever have something stored on the parking lot for a long period of time.

The surface repair typically seen for aligator cracking removal of the effected asphalt and patching with an appropriate new asphalt mix. You may have to repair the base layers below the asphalt before applying the new asphalt.

aligator cracking

Pot Holes

Pot Holes are typically caused when cracks go untreated. The combination of water enlarging the crack and then traffic moving across it slowly eroding the asphalt away. Pot Holes are unsightly and if left untreated can continue to grow in size potentially damaging a customers vehicle. Again if left untreated base layer integrity may become compromised.

The surface repair typically seen for Pot Holes is the same as Fatigue cracking, removal of the effected asphalt and patching with an appropriate new asphalt mix. You may have to repair the base layers below the asphalt before applying the new asphalt.

Pothole Patch

Reflection Cracking

Reflection Cracking is when a new layer of asphalt was applied to an existing deteriated parking lot. Reflection Cracking is the old cracks showing through the new surface. This is caused by improperly addressing cracking prior to a new overlay. There are several treatment options however the best treatment is doing it right from the start. This means prior to doing a resurfacing treatment the existing asphalt is treated. This could be a combination of all treatments previously discussed or complete removal of the old parking lot, repair of any subgrade issue and brand new pavement laid. However as this is incredibly expensive to do many companies choose not to do this and proceed with an overlay.

So now you have a newer asphalt surface and reflection cracking has started to show up, what do you do? At this point you would be able to utilize the appropriat repair for the type of cracks that we have previously discussed.

* Contact us today for more information