Your asphalt driveway may seem like a solid, unmoving surface, but it's constantly shifting, flexing, and resisting stress. The asphalt will move in imperceptible increments every time you drive over your driveway. Likewise, asphalt surfaces can shift due to environmental conditions, such as the soil below freezing, thawing, or drying out.
Asphalt is relatively plastic so it can endure these movements without issue. However, no surface will last forever, and cracks typically form along stress points. While many cracks in asphalt are relatively minor, surface-level imperfections, others can be more severe. If your driveway has these issues, you won't want to ignore them for long.
Why Are Larger Cracks an Issue?
Your driveway's surface consists of numerous layers, including a relatively vulnerable foundation and base. The upper levels of your driveway's asphalt help to protect these layers from damage caused by moisture. Problems such as cracks, deep potholes, and other imperfections allow water to seep into the driveway base, causing substantial damage that can threaten your driveway's overall lifespan.
Large cracks are a particularly serious threat since they allow significant water to seep below the surface. Since your driveway's surface isn't static, these cracks will inevitably grow over time. The flexing and movement of the asphalt surface will cause the crack to widen, ultimately allowing more damage to occur beneath the surface.
What Makes Fixing Larger Cracks Hard?
There are several reasons why you can't just seal coat over a larger crack and call it a day. First, these cracks often go deep below the surface. Filling small cracks with sealer will temporarily cover up the problem, but it won't solve the underlying structural issue. The sealer is unlikely even to make a substantial cosmetic improvement for larger cracks.
It's also important to ensure that the fix can expand and contract with the asphalt. Even standard asphalt crack fillers may run into an issue with large cracks, where expansion and contraction of the asphalt can cause the repair to pull away from the rest of the driveway.
How Can You Permanently Repair Wide Cracks?
A professional paving contractor will typically need to evaluate the cracks in your driveway to determine the best option to repair them. In some cases, a normal filler may work well. In others, specific products designed for larger cracks may be necessary. These products, like asphalt, are poured hot and completely fill the gap. Most importantly, they remain flexible enough to prevent future cracking.
Once you complete repairs, it's often a good idea to sealcoat the crack or, if necessary, your entire driveway. Sealcoating helps protect the repair to ensure it lasts for as long as possible, helping you avoid more repairs and extending the overall life of your asphalt driveway.
Reach out to an asphalt repair contractor to learn more.