How to Destroy Asphalt and How to Protect It

Blog Home | by on August 3, 2022 in News

What Causes Asphalt to Degrade?

Like many pavement construction materials, asphalt will begin to slowly degrade after it is poured and dries. Regardless of the conditions and protection coatings put in place to keep the asphalt from accruing damage or degrading it will begin to happen. Fortunately there are professional grade methods available to help asphalt last much longer protecting it from the elements, chemicals, and other daily wear-and-tear occurrences that break down the asphalt pavement’s structural integrity.

Water & Asphalt Pavement

While it may sound strange, one of the biggest reasons that asphalt begins to break down and crack is due to water. When asphalt roads or parking lots aren’t maintained properly water will slowly begin to seep into the surface and penetrate underneath the asphalt layer. When this occurs the water will agitate anything underneath the asphalt causing shifting and movement. While water washes away the materials under the asphalt it leaves spaces and gaps which cause stress on the asphalt surface. The asphalt pavement will then begin to crack and the surface of the pavement will break; in some circumstances a pothole can appear causing a hazard for vehicles and pedestrians. This issue only gets worse over time as the cracks allow more water to flow freely underneath the asphalt pavement and continue to cause further damage. In many circumstances asphalt parking lots or roads that aren’t properly maintained begin to show these signs of damage through cracks within a few years. Depending on the circumstances it can deteriorate rather quickly as the asphalt materials break down from losing support.

How the Freeze-Thaw Cycle Can Damage Asphalt

No matter what part of the country asphalt is poured the pavement is susceptible to erosion and damage from the natural elements and time. In Central Ohio pavement materials can accrue damage from what is called the freeze-thaw cycle. As the temperature rises and drops any asphalt that has soaked up any water will freeze and thaw resulting in the water particles expanding and contracting. As water freezes it expands pushing apart the materials that make up the asphalt. Throughout the winter months this repeating process will destroy the structural integrity of the pavement and the asphalt will begin to crack and break apart.

Oil & Other Substances

Other substances that cause asphalt pavement are oils and other chemicals frequently used with motor vehicles. Gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, and diesel are all common culprits that cause issues with the pavement’s surface. A pavement made from asphalt is likely to suffer damage from these oils and substances when it is not properly maintained and the pavement softens. As the asphalt paving softens it becomes even susceptible to damage. While cleaning these oils up will definitely slow down the erosion that occurs, without sealing the asphalt gasoline and oils will penetrate the surface and rapidly increase the necessity for repair. It is a common issue that vehicles regularly leak oil or other substances which will build up over time and penetrate the surface of the asphalt. This is especially an issue with parking lots which can see a significant amount of damage over a short period of time. Like with water damage, when you first see damage, a crack, or signs of erosion occurring it is best to have a professional come and handle the necessary repair in order to stop the asphalt from accruing any further damage.

Asphalt Oxidation

After asphalt dries the natural oxidation process begins. With asphalt exposure to oxygen causes molecular bonds to break apart and become brittle. As this process occurs the asphalt is slowly exposed to more and more oxygen which only increases the oxidation process. Like all other forms of breakdown and erosion, the asphalt becomes more susceptible to water, oxygen, oils, harsh substances, and temperature fluctuations as it breaks down.


Sunlight and its heat can cause the asphalt to dry out more quickly. A sealcoating keeps the appropriate moisture in, and acts as a barrier from substances that are harmful like water. If an asphalt road, driveway, or parking lot goes without a sealcoating it is likely to have crack after crack appear. It is vital to have your asphalt paving coated properly, especially when working with asphalt to ensure its durability and longevity.

Protecting Asphalt

While untreated and unmaintained asphalt will show clear signs of damage within a couple of years there are professional methods of protecting the pavement. To ensure that your asphalt

Sealcoating Asphalt

Sealcoating is a process used to seal the surface of asphalt paving in order to protect it from water, chemicals, oxidation, ultraviolet light, and temperature fluctuation. A layer meant for protecting is added on top of the pavement surface to seal the asphalt. As an added bonus sealcoating provides a more visually pleasing seal to the surface of the asphalt. Sealcoating creates a smoother looking finish to the surface of your parking lot, road, driveway, or any other pavement you seal.

A sealcoating lasts several years between coats, depending on factors like wear and tear, the age of the asphalt paving, how much traffic and use the pavement gets, and other various factors. When asphalt paving is maintained over a long period of time and receives properly timed sealcoating it can last significantly longer. A parking lot or road that has sealcoating protection done every few years can last up to 30 years without the asphalt needing to be poured again. There are different types of asphalt sealcoating seals available including asphalt based, tar based, and petroleum based seals.

Crackfilling Pavement

Similar to sealcoating, crackfilling is the process that is meant specifically to seal up a crack in the surface of an asphalt parking lot, road, or driveway. This is beneficial as a pavement surface will erode much faster when a crack remains unfilled, especially for long periods of time.

Asphalt Experts

When paving a road, driveway, parking lot, or other surface we want to provide the best value for every customer. As experts in working with asphalt pouring, sealing, and maintenance we have extensive experience in commercial asphalt work. We offer a variety of services including paving resurfacing, sealcoating, asphalt repair, pothole repair, and more.

Contact Us

For more information on our services, a free estimate, or to have any questions answered please reach out to our offices today. For over 70 years we have been serving the businesses of Central Ohio and are excited to assist you on your next paving project.