What is Your Asphalt Pavement Telling You

What is Your Asphalt Pavement Telling You Grand Rapids Asphalt Paving

Did you know that your pavement goes through distinct life stages? Given proper maintenance, it should take your asphalt driveway or parking lot 20 years to go through the stages of wear, distress, and failure. Thankfully, asphalt paving contractors offer a range of services to help you prolong the life of your pavement, which include pothole repair, sealcoating, and other types of asphalt repair.

More wear is added to the surface of your pavement every time cars drive and park. This is why it’s important to check for signs of asphalt distress, such as cracks and potholes. Scheduling asphalt pothole repairs prolongs the life of your parking lot or driveway so pavement doesn’t prematurely fail and need replacement.

In this blog post, you will learn the different signs of asphalt distress so you can determine when it’s time to call an asphalt contractor.

Alligator Cracks

Like the name suggests, alligator cracks resemble the scaly hide of an alligator. Whether alligator cracking is a widespread problem in your pavement, or it is contained to a specific area, you’ll need to contact an experienced paving contractor as soon as possible.

Alligator cracking is usually a sign that the asphalt foundation is failing and will need to be replaced. Asphalt foundations can deteriorate when large cracks and potholes are left unrepaired, allowing water to seep into the foundation and cause permanent damage. Alligator cracking can also happen when the asphalt layer is too thin.


There are two different types of asphalt wave patterns—ruts and washboards. Ruts are waves that show up in wheel paths that follow traffic. Washboard waves in asphalt are concentrated where vehicles make frequent stops, such as at intersections.

Asphalt rutting occurs when the foundation wasn’t engineered to withstand its current weight of traffic. Asphalt washboards, on the other hand, are caused by inferior asphalt blends. For example, an inexperienced paving contractor may put in too much asphalt cement, or even use the wrong blend for your climate.


Asphalt contractors call shiny or smooth patches in asphalt “flushing”. If you notice any shiny or smooth patches in your asphalt surface, this is caused by a contractor adding too much asphalt cement to the mix during pavement installation. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for flushing to show up in pavement that also has washboard waves.

Wrinkles or Tears

For the best results, the surface of your asphalt pavement needs to have bonded properly with its foundation. Otherwise, you may notice wrinkles or tears in the asphalt in the first 12 months after asphalt paving. Before hiring an asphalt contractor, you’ll need to do your research on the quality of work they’ve provided on projects similar to yours. Errors in asphalt paving can cause wrinkles or tears in the first year.


If water has been allowed to seep into the foundation of your asphalt parking lot or driveway, you may notice mud or water being forced to the surface when cars drive over your pavement. This phenomenon is called “pumping”. If you don’t repair asphalt potholes and cracks in a timely manner, water will be able to penetrate the foundation to cause lasting structural damage.

How can a contractor repair pavement damage?

If you recognize the above signs of distressed pavement, you’ll need to depend on the expertise of an asphalt contractor. Depending on the extent of asphalt damage, your contractor may be able to do a “cut and patch” repair or even recommend asphalt overlay. If the damage is isolated to a specific area, a contractor will be able to remove that pavement and replace it with an asphalt patch.

Like the name suggests, asphalt overlays are simply a new layer installed over existing pavement. However, your pavement’s foundation must be in good condition to be a candidate. Any potholes or cracks will also need to be repaired prior to installing asphalt overlays.

A-1 Asphalt Inc. is dedicated to helping customers maintain the appearance and function of their asphalt surfaces for many years to come. If you are interested in our asphalt paving services, please feel free to call our Grand Rapids asphalt contractors at (800) 871-4401.