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What Causes Asphalt Pavement Distress and Deterioration?

Getting the maximum life out of your parking lot or roadway isn’t always easy…especially with Mother Nature, Father Time, and Brother Lead Foot playing major roles. You can thank these factors – or actors, if you will – for causing your asphalt surface to go from new and black to old and cracked. Understanding how they do it is the proverbial plot for our story.

Act I – Stay Flexible, Rocky.

This may sound like good advice from a busy boss or a Yoga teacher, but it’s actually the key to understanding your surface. Asphalt pavement is different than other surfaces such as concrete in that it contains a special binder that keeps pavement flexible. This flexibility lets pavement absorb the constant stressors and traffic loads it carries. But over time, enemies such as water, oxidation, and sunlight can cause asphalt binder to turn hard and inflexible, initiating the deterioration process.

Act II – Brave the Elements.

Your parking lot is exposed to oxygen and UV rays every day. The combination of these elements damages the chemical bonds that give pavement its strength. When these bonds break apart, the pavement fades in color, becomes brittle, and small fractures in the surface become vulnerable to water, debris, and vehicle force. The following graphic shows a basic depiction of the deterioration timeline:

Act III – Protect the Core.

As this deterioration process continues, deeper layers become exposed to oxidation, eventually allowing surface cracks to break through the asphalt and then to the subgrade (or foundation) below. Water is now free to enter through these cracks where it begins to weaken the foundation. Your pavement will no longer be able to hold the traffic loads, and major pavement failures such as raveling, potholes, and severe drainage issues follow. At best, these failures are cosmetically unattractive. At worst, they are serious safety hazards for vehicular and pedestrian traffic – which can become liabilities to your business.

Fortunately, this story doesn’t have to end in tragedy! There are many preservation, maintenance, and reconstructive solutions along the way to help you extend the life of your asphalt pavement. Stay tuned to learn more about these answers to your deterioration problems.

ACE Asphalt is a full service asphalt maintenance, repair, and paving company with offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Dallas,Texas. Ace serves the parking lot repair, maintenance, and paving needs of property managers, building owners, and contractors.

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