What Is Your Pavement Telling You?

Asphalt pavement normally goes through three distinct stages: wear, distress, and failure. Wear is normal; after all, the pavement was installed to be used. Failure indicates that pavement is reaching or has reached the end of its useful life. The middle stage (distress) tells you that your paved surface is suffering and in need of corrective measures to prevent premature failure. Learning to read the signs of asphalt pavement distress can help you determine whether you need to take immediate action.

  • WavesWaves in asphalt pavement can be caused by two different issues. If the waves parallel the traffic and appear in the wheel paths, this is a condition calling rutting. If the waves are near areas where vehicles make frequent stops and starts, such as at crosswalks or stop signs, this is called wash-boarding or corrugation. Rutting is caused by an installation or design that has proven its inability to withstand the loads to which the pavement has been subjected. Wash-boarding is caused by a defective asphalt blend, such as using an excessive amount of asphalt cement, not adding enough aggregate to the mix or choosing an incorrect asphalt cement for the climate.
  • Flushing: Patches of pavement that are noticeably smoother or shinier than the surrounding asphalt can indicate a condition known as flushing. Flushing is almost always caused by an asphalt mix that contained too much asphalt cement, so it may well be present on pavement that also shows wash-boarding.
  • Wrinkles/Tears: For asphalt pavement to perform properly, the asphalt needs to remain bonded to the foundation. If this bond fails, wrinkles and/or tears in the pavement can occur. Although structural flaws can cause bond failures, they are most often caused by installation errors. Most bond failures happen within the first 12 months of the pavement’s installation.
  • AlligatoringAlligator cracking is a specific cracking pattern in which many small cracks interconnect to form a damage pattern resembling the skin on an alligator’s back. Alligator cracking can occur if an asphalt layer is too thin, but it is often an indication that water has penetrated beneath the surface and damaged the foundation.
  • Pumping: If traffic pumps mud and/or water from beneath the pavement, this is an indication that water penetration has occurred and the water has reached the foundation. Potholes or cracks that have not been repaired are the most common cause of water penetration. If pumping is occurring, it is a good indication that the pavement will suffer even more damages quite soon.

Asphalt contractors can use a variety of methods to repair distressed pavement. Choosing a method requires evaluating how much of the pavement is in distress, whether the foundation has been destabilized and other site-specific factors. Two common methods are “cut and patch” and overlay.

  • “Cut and patch” is a technique in which the damaged pavement is removed and replaced with new asphalt. This method also allows the foundation beneath the removed asphalt to be repaired.
  • Asphalt Overlays are additional layers of asphalt that are installed over existing pavement. For an overlay to be effective, the foundation needs to be in stable condition, and all cracks or other damages to the pavement should be repaired prior to the overlay’s installation.

If your asphalt paved surface is telling you that it is in distress, B&E Coating Services can help. We offer a complete range of asphalt maintenance services to clients throughout the greater Michigan area. Whether you need parking lot stripinginfrared asphalt repairs, or eco-friendly asphalt sealing, our people have the skills and experience to provide you with quality work at competitive rates. Call our Rockford asphalt contractors at 989-352-7305 or submit our online form to request your free quote.

B&E Coating Services, LLC is a premier sealcoating service company – we look forward to serving you!