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A List Of The Common Cracks That Asphalt Pavement Can Experience

Key Takeaways:

  • Alligator cracks need major repair and should not be filled with crack filler alone.
  • One way to prevent edge cracks is by having a stable base and ensuring proper drainage.
  • Slippage cracks are caused by uneven support beneath the asphalt.
  • The process of asphalt crack filling is not as complicated as you may think.

The unsightly lines on your asphalt pavement are more than just an eyesore – they are a warning sign of potential future damage. As asphalt pavement ages, it is prone to cracking due to environmental factors and everyday wear and tear. So, what are some of the typical crack failures asphalt pavement can experience?

Let’s have a look at these cracks with Quality Asphalt.

Some Common Asphalt Cracks

Alligator crack

Resembling the skin of an alligator, this type of crack is caused by repeated traffic loads over an insufficient base or weak subgrade. With the cracks interconnected, you will see gaps in a series or cluster. 

Alligator cracks need major repair and should not be filled with crack filler alone. To fix this issue, you may need to perform a full-depth asphalt repair or complete pavement replacement.

Block cracks

Same as it sounds, you will find block cracks on your asphalt pavement in the shape of squares or rectangles. This type of crack is often caused by thermal movement or shrinkage of the asphalt pavement. In some cases, block cracks can also be caused by poor construction practices or a weak base. For instance, it’s possible that your contractor may not have compacted the base enough before laying down the asphalt pavement.

Fixing block cracks depends on the size and depth of the cracks. If they’re small, the crack filler may do the trick. However, larger block cracks may require asphalt patching or complete pavement replacement.

Edge cracks

These cracks form at the edge of the pavement, often parallel to the asphalt’s joints. They’re typically caused by poor drainage or unstable soil at the edge of the pavement. One way to prevent edge cracks is by having a stable base and ensuring proper drainage with the help of a professional contractor.

To fix your edge cracks, you may need to resolve the problems with your soil and drainage before patching or filling the gaps.

Transverse cracks

Have you seen that single crack running across your pavement, perpendicular to the direction of the asphalt’s joints? That’s a transverse crack, which can be caused by heavy loads on the pavement or extreme temperature changes.

Transverse cracks are best repaired with crack filler. However, patching may also be necessary depending on the severity of the damage. Because these cracks are not directly caused by weak asphalt, they often require more extensive and ongoing maintenance.

Slippage cracks

Slippage cracks, also known as crescent or half-moon-shaped, are caused by uneven adhesion between the layers of the asphalt. When traffic moves in a certain direction, the flexible pavement starts to slip from the force & shifts, it can cause these cracks to form. Asphalt crack repair for slippage cracks usually involves removing and replacing the affected pavement section and repairing and stabilizing the underlying soil. Manually filling these cracks with asphalt crack filler is only a temporary solution.

A List Of The Common Cracks That Asphalt Pavement Can Experience

Joint reflection cracks

These cracks occur in a flexible pavement overlay on a rigid & slabbed pavement (for example, asphalt over concrete). They happen directly above the joints in the underlying rigid pavement. Joint reflection does not include reflection cracks away from an underlying joint or any other type of base (such as cement- or lime-stabilized).

To prevent reflection cracks, you should introduce expansion joints in the rigid layer & avert moisture from entering the joints in the underlying pavement as much as possible.


Where potholes are not precisely what we call “cracks” in the traditional sense, they are still a type of failure that asphalt pavement can experience. Slippage cracks and potholes are caused by a lack of bonding between layers, poor drainage, and the repeated freeze-thaw cycle. Failing to repair severe cracks can also lead to pothole formation, where the cracks have weakened the asphalt to the point that it can no longer support traffic.

How To Repair Asphalt Cracks?

Whether you believe in your abilities or want to hire a professional, the asphalt crack repair process is relatively simple. Let’s walk you through the basics of this process.

1. Clean the crack.

Cleaning your pavement’s cracks is crucial for a successful repair. Remove any dirt or debris with a wire brush and broom, cleaning out any loose material in the asphalt crack. Next, blow out the asphalt cracks with a leaf blower or compressed air to ensure they are spotless and dry before moving on to the next step. Use a cleaner to clean the gap thoroughly if you feel like some dirt or debris is still left.

2. Fill the crack with sand.

Using asphalt crack filler or patch, fill the crack to about 1/8 inch below the pavement’s surface. Then, add a layer of sand on top to provide a smooth surface for the crack filler to adhere to.

3. Compact the sand.

Using a tamper or hand tamp, compact the sand to ensure it is level with the surrounding pavement. You must be sure the sand is securely packed for the crack filler to adhere correctly.

4. Apply asphalt sealant to the crack.

The crack filler will not last as long without the sealant and may not fully adhere to the surrounding pavement. Apply a thin, even sealant layer over the compacted sand to complete the repair.

5. Apply a second coat of sealant if desired.

For a more durable repair, some professionals recommend applying a second coat of sealant. This can provide added protection against future cracking and deterioration.

6. Allow the sealant to dry for 24 hours before driving.

Lack of proper drying time can result in the sealant not fully bonding with the asphalt and potentially cracking or peeling off prematurely. Be sure to give the repair sufficient time to set and cure before driving or walking on it.

Ending Note:

To rid your pavement of asphalt cracks, it is imperative to properly clean and fill the damages as soon as they appear. You can also trust a reputable paving contractor to provide asphalt crack repair and prevention services to keep your pavement in tip-top shape for years to come.

Quality Asphalt, serving Appleton, WI, can help you resolve your asphalt crack problems with our expert asphalt maintenance services. You deserve only the best for your pavement – let us help you achieve it.

Get a free quote today.