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Asphalt is the preferred material for paving because of its strength and durability. But even the most durable materials are no match when exposed to natural elements. Over time, everything, including asphalt deteriorates.

Causes of Asphalt Deterioration

Deterioration of asphalt pavements is generally natural as it is with any other materials that are affected by natural elements such as rain, snow, sunlight natural aging. The substances used to bind the asphalt eventually lose its resistance to water and other natural elements.

In some instances, asphalt can deteriorate prematurely due to:

  • construction failures
  • human error
  • over or under compaction of asphalt
  • incorrect temperatures used when applying the asphalt
  • insufficient base below the asphalt
  • poor drainage

Other factors that can cause pavement deterioration to include:

  • Water:  Water penetrates the asphalt and washes out the base underneath causing it to crack, breakdown and collapse; this is why proper maintenance is needed to help the asphalt to last.
  • Sunlight:  Over time, sunlight causes oxidation of the asphalt. It breaks down and dries out the liquid asphalt that holds the aggregate together. The result is cracking in the pavement that allows water to penetrate the surface.
  • Chemical Exposure:  Gas or petroleum oil can soften the asphalt and cause a rapid breakdown.

Even the best-constructed asphalt will eventually deteriorate, usually within 3-5 years of paving. Being in the natural elements will cause it to turn gray, become brittle and start cracking. To help increase the asphalt’s longevity, a technician can use a sealant is used within 60 to 90 days after paving has been constructed.

Of all the factors that can cause asphalt deterioration, water is by far the leading culprit. Water/rain enters the cracks and during seasonal cycles freezes, thaws and causes the cracks to become larger, eventually turning into potholes.

With proper maintenance, asphalt pavements can last up to 25 years. If you need a pavement or need your pavement inspected, contact Cooper Paving for a free estimate.

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