An asphalt parking lot that exhibits signs of disrepair and lack of maintenance provides guests a poor impression of your business to guests before they walk through the door. Without regular maintenance, a pavement’s foundation breaks down and results in potholes or alligator cracking. Failing to repair and maintain your parking lot shortens your parking lot’s lifespan and opens your business to lawsuits if a guest is injured due to debris in your parking lot.

In order to be able to properly care for your parking lot you must be aware of the most common failures that can occur and know what causes them and what asphalt parking lot repair may be needed to resolve them.

Cracks

Cracks on asphalt surface

Types of cracks that are common in an asphalt parking lot

There are different crack types, which can be easily identified by their pattern. 

  • Longitude cracks appear in a long, straight line. 
  • Block cracks appear like a rectangular or square shape and can intersect at right angles. 
  • Alligator cracks appear in a haphazard pattern.

Cracks should be isolated and measure not more than ¼-inch to 1-inch wide to be repaired by crack sealing.  If breaks are widespread and measure greater than one inch, asphalt removal and replacement may be necessary.

What causes these cracks

Cracks in asphalt parking lot pavement, regardless of geographic location, allow water to seep through the surface to the underlying base.  Parking lots exposed to typical winter weather will experience water inside the asphalt that freezes and then thaws several times, causing expansion and contraction of cracks. In turn, the cracks widen and ultimately break up the surrounding asphalt. And, before you know it, the potential for slip-and-fall or other injuries exists.

Water runoff can damage the subgrade, resulting in raveling, rutting, or widespread areas of cracking.

Repairing Cracks and Its Cost

1. Crack sealing

It is crucial to perform asphalt parking lot crack sealing as soon as possible. When cracks measure ¼-inch to 1-inch wide, sealing them will minimize water infiltration. If left untreated, water can permeate through openings in the asphalt and quickly erode the sub-base. Crack sealing is the best defense and the most cost-effective treatment.

Rubberized asphalt materials are the most commonly used for crack sealing, and they’re very budget-friendly. 

Most product manufacturers recommend an air and surface temperature of 40°F or above for crack sealing. You can do repairs at this time of year using premium cold mix asphalt. 

When performed regularly, crack sealing is the best defense against weather-related issues such as excess rain and freeze-thaw cycles. Crack sealing helps prevent water from seeping into the base and destroying the asphalt. 

2. Sealcoating

Seal coating helps protect and preserve the structural integrity of your asphalt parking lot pavement. Once the cracks have been repaired, you should follow up with a seal coat. Parking lot seal coating provides a protective barrier against UV rays, water, salt, oils, and gasoline. Seal coating is a type of insurance against erosion.

Sealcoating fills surface voids and helps prevent oxidation or fading due to excess sun exposure. When seal coating, the temperature and weather will dictate the best time of year, it should be performed. And, after the initial application, seal coating should be performed every 24 to 36 months. 

Potholes

Large pothole on asphalt

What causes potholes in asphalt parking lots

Potholes are bowl-shaped cvities that result from the localized break-up of the pavement.Moisture intrusion is the leading cause of pavement deterioration. Rainwater seeps into small cracks in the asphalt and puddles between the asphalt layer and the road. Low temperatures freeze the water, forcing the asphalt upwards.

Once the ice thaws, the water is absorbed into the weakened roadbed and leaves behind a cavity. Vehicle traffic breaks the surface apart and pushes it down into the weakened roadbed. Larger cracks and potholes form when the crumbling asphalt fills the cavity. 

Repairing Potholes and Its Cost

If you have existing potholes or widespread cracking, these areas can be filled or patched using premium hot or cold mix asphalt. 

Cut the pothole area in your asphalt parking lot to a square or rectangular edge with a cut saw or a jackhammer. Excavate down to the aggregate sub-base.  Prepare the hot or cold mix asphalt and fill the cavity to a compact depth of at least 3”. 

Adequate compaction is critical for preventing the new material’s deformation material and keeping water from entering the pavement. Seal the edges with asphalt emulsion to ensure it bonds with the surrounding asphalt. 

Other common asphalt issues that require asphalt parking lot repair

Asphalt parking lot repair

Deteriorated Joints 

Poorly constructed asphalt parking lot joints result in joint failure. Joint failure begins when air, water, and contaminants enter the joint through segregation, not enough compaction, or a lack of bonding between adjacent strips.

Many types of pavements suffer structural failure due to deterioration from heavy load traffic. Failure shows up initially as “alligator cracking,” a form of fatigue cracking. Cracking occurs under repeated traffic from heavy loads due to subgrade weakness, insufficient pavement thickness, excessive loading, or a combination of these factors.

When a base failure occurs, remove the failed pavement, shore up the material underneath and replace the asphalt. You need to know what caused the asphalt failure and address it. If the problem is a weakness in the subgrade, you must repair the weakness. If the problem was too little pavement thickness, thin pavement should be undercut, and a thicker layer of asphalt added.

Raveling

Raveling is the loss of aggregate particulates from the pavement surface of the asphalt parking lot. Raveling occurs when the asphalt binder hardens and loses its grip on the stone or when you use a poor-quality mix. 

If caught early, you can address raveling by seal coating. If the condition is severe, an asphalt overlay or surface treatment is needed.

Rutting

Rutting in an asphalt parking lot is a channeled depression from wheel-tracks. Rutting is caused by:

  • too thin pavement;
  • lack of compaction of the asphalt, soil, stone base; 
  • a weak mix of asphalt; or
  • moisture infiltration. 

If rutting is minor or has stabilized, the depressions can be filled and overlaid with either hot or cold asphalt mix. If  deformations are severe, the rutted area should be undercut, removed, and then replaced with suitable asphalt material.

Slippage

Slippage cracks are small crescent-shaped cracks or tears in the surface layers of the asphalt parking lot where the new material has slipped over the underlying existing pavement. A lack of bonding between layers causes this problem. 

The lack of bond could occur because the installer did not develop a bond between the asphalt layers with a tack coat. The lack of bond could also be because they did not bond the asphalt with a prime coat of the underlying stone. Contaminants like oil and dirt will prevent the asphalt layers from bonding or adhering together. 

Remove all of the pavement layers showing slippage. After removing the failed pavement layer, wait until the remaining pavement is clean and dry. Then, apply a tack coat to hold the old and new material together. Place and compact the new layers of asphalt.

How to avoid common parking lot issues

Asphalt sealcoating

Routine inspections

Routine asphalt parking lot inspections are the best way to be proactive and prioritize repairs, thus saving money over time. But, the time of year matters, too. Isolated cracks that are ¼” to ¾” wide are good candidates for crack sealing. As soon as the weather permits, it would help if you sealed the asphalt cracks. However, if you notice rutting, alligator cracking, or potholes, call your preferred paving contractor.

A typical maintenance plan for an asphalt parking lot will include routine crack sealing, a seal coat, and lot marking. A maintenance plan can save $0.10-$0.30/SF per year over ten years.

Proper Drainage

Water is the #1 enemy of asphalt parking lots. Supplement your drainage system by installing new catch basins in low-lying areas. Routinely inspect existing catch basins to keep drains clear of debris and to perform any adjustments or other maintenance. Having proper drainage installed is one of the best ways to avoid needing asphalt parking lot repair.

Proper maintenance

Routine maintenance slows the deterioration of your asphalt parking lot pavement by protecting it from its natural Enemies, sun, water, and air. Parking lots that are maintained last for a more extended period when compared to those without any maintenance plan.

Identifying pavement cracks and sealing them as soon as possible is the most cost-effective preventative maintenance procedure.

Parking lot drainage

Parking lot maintenance tips

Be sure to follow these maintenance best practices to ensure your parking lot is properly cared for. If you want to avoid the need for potentially costly asphalt parking lot repair, do not overlook the importance of proper maintenance.

  • Perform monthly inspections, so you don’t miss anything that requires attention. You should also schedule an annual check-up of your asphalt parking lot once every year.
  • Keep it Clean. Sweep away the dirt and debris or hire a parking lot cleaning company to keep it clean for you. Trash makes a parking lot look abandoned, and that’s the last thing you want your customers to think as they drive past.
  • Clean Oil Stains. Oil will break down the components in asphalt, making it wear out more quickly.
  • Keep current with repairs, such as crack filling and seal coating.  It is essential to extending your asphalt parking lot’s lifespan. 
  • Annually before each rainy season, fill the cracks in your parking lot to reduce damage from all water sources.
  • Make sure all storm drains are working correctly. Water should drain away from the pavement. Water left on the surface can seep through the asphalt openings and cause damage. 
  • Repair any tripping hazards in your asphalt parking lot to prevent accidental falls. Tree roots can lift asphalt and make it very uneven, resulting in a trip and fall hazard for your customers.
  • Annually refresh the parking lot striping and road markings. If the lines blur or fade to where they’re barely visible, your customers won’t be able to tell where one parking spot stops and the next one begins. Undistinguishable lines turn your parking lot into chaos where unnecessary car accidents can occur.  
  • Every two or three years, your parking lot should be seal coated. Sealing revitalizes old asphalt parking lot surfaces that have become dry and brittle with age. Small surface cracks and voids need to be sealed to prevent more extensive damage and expensive pavement replacement.

Preventive maintenance strategies that might be appropriate for one situation may not be for another situation.  How do you know what the right maintenance option is?  When is the best time of day for this work to be done? Local pavement maintenance contractors can help you choose a preventive maintenance plan.

Asphalt parking lots appropriate for preventive maintenance applications include new parking lots as well as twelve-year-old lots. Such parking lots could experience early to mid-stage deterioration, such as surface cracks and pavement raveling.

Protecting asphalt parking lots from environmental factors, such as water penetration of the base through cracks and potholes, along with oxidation of the pavement’s upper surface, can add years to its life. Preventive maintenance isn’t viable for pavement that exhibits structural deficiencies or failures.

Asphalt repair

Conclusion

Protecting your asphalt parking lot investment should include planning a regularly scheduled pavement maintenance and repair program with a qualified paving professional in your area.

Most professional paving contractors offer inspection and maintenance plans that will fit your budget and keep your asphalt parking lot clean and in good repair.  Local paving contractors will be familiar with the weather patterns in your area and schedule parking lot maintenance when you need it most. They will help you prevent damage to our parking lot by providing regular preventative maintenance. 

Taking care of your asphalt parking lot is your responsibility as a business owner. Customers need to feel safe parking in your business’s parking lot. Regularly scheduled parking lot maintenance and repair reduce the number of lawsuits on a business’s property. Additionally, regular preventative maintenance and repair are the most cost-effective means of extending the life expectancy of your asphalt parking lot.

Asphalt parking lot repair and maintenance is an ongoing commercial service. Trust us to help you locate a paving contractor near you to handle your asphalt parking lot maintenance and repair needs.