Is the parking lot on a commercial property you manage beginning to develop unsightly lines and cracks on its surface? This damage is often a phenomenon called alligator cracking, and you need to address it promptly. 

We’ll break down the primary causes of these cracks, how to prevent them and ways to maintain the asphalt’s structural integrity.

Learn more about alligator cracking and the best temporary and permanent ways to repair it.

What Is Alligator Cracking in Asphalt?

Alligator cracking is a typical way asphalt deteriorates over time. Other names for this phenomenon include:

  • Spider cracking
  • Fatigue cracking
  • Crocodile cracking

This cracking makes the asphalt split apart on the surface, resembling a reptile’s scales. These cracks can vary in size and depth, depending on the cause.

If you ignore cracking in asphalt, the problem can become more severe, leading to larger, hazardous potholes. 

There are temporary and permanent solutions for addressing these types of cracks. Being proactive about repair stops the cracks from developing into significant problems. Understanding the causes of alligatoring asphalt is critical to preventing this issue.

What Causes Asphalt Alligator Cracking?

Various factors can contribute to alligator cracking.

  • Weakened base: Problems underneath the asphalt are the primary cause of this type of cracking. The underlying layers must adequately support the asphalt to avoid the surface from breaking apart over time. 
  • Overloading: Though this cause is uncommon, overloading can cause asphalt alligatoring. Too much weight over the surface can cause distress and lead to splitting in the asphalt.
  • Poor drainage: If the pavement has any existing cracks, improper water drainage can lead to structural problems and weaken the surface. 
  • Thin asphalt: If the asphalt layer is too thin when applied, it may not have the structural integrity to withstand wear and tear over time from weather and use. 
  • Heat: Intense heat can cause asphalt to expand too quickly and begin to crack.
  • Freezing and thawing: Moisture can get into imperfections in the asphalt’s surface. This moisture freezes and thaws in areas with cold climates, leading to shrinking and expanding that can deepen cracks. 

These elements, or a combination of them, are typically to blame for alligator cracking.

How to Prevent Alligatoring Asphalt

There are a few proactive ways to ensure the pavement on a commercial property you manage is structurally sound. The following include the measures you should take to avoid cracked asphalt.

Ensure Proper Installation

The most effective way to prevent alligator cracks in asphalt is to ensure proper subbase installation. It is best to turn to an experienced professional for this.

Parking lots and roadways need appropriately supportive aggregate layers underneath to maintain the necessary structural integrity to avoid cracking over time. A few critical factors to consider include:

  • Asphalt thickness
  • Compaction levels 
  • Stability

Apply Sealcoating Regularly

Another way to avoid alligatoring is to periodically apply sealcoating. Sealing your asphalt ensures your commercial property’s parking lot can withstand the elements that can cause premature cracking, such as moisture.

Preventive maintenance will help the pavement maintain its look and integrity. Consider having a professional apply sealcoating annually or biannually after installing the asphalt to strengthen and reinforce the surface.

Fill in the Cracks

To prevent existing cracks from worsening and spreading across the asphalt’s surface, it is best to have a professional apply crack filler promptly after noticing the damage. 

When cracks emerge, consider having the area evaluated to find the root cause of the issue. The earlier you tend to your damaged asphalt, the better. Filling the cracks prevents moisture from getting in and wreaking havoc. 

Repair Potholes

In addition to sealing the asphalt’s surface, addressing potholes is vital to minimizing alligator cracking. Potholes can cause cracks to spread and affect structural integrity.

Repairing these imperfections is essential for maintaining asphalt longevity and avoiding potential safety hazards. Consider having the pothole repaired with saw cutting rather than overlay to effectively reduce the risk of cracking. 

How to Repair Alligator Cracks

When alligator cracking occurs, have it repaired promptly to avoid the damage from spreading further. 

To fix this type of cracking, follow these steps.

Identify the Source

The first step in dealing with alligator cracks in asphalt is to evaluate what factors are causing the problem. Narrowing down the source will help you understand your repair needs.

It is beneficial to have an experienced professional assess the issue for you. They can evaluate the root cause of the cracking and the best way to address it.

Evaluate the Subbase

Assessing the asphalt’s subbase is essential to ensuring it is structurally sound. If the material below is deteriorating or damaged, it may be time to replace the asphalt entirely.

Again, a professional should evaluate the subbase installation to decide the best approach. You must have a stable base before laying fresh asphalt to avoid the same cracking problems down the road. 

Remove the Damaged Asphalt

Have a professional remove any of the asphalt where there is alligator cracking. You must have the damaged sections removed before replacing the entire surface. 

If you want to repair the cracks instead of replacing the asphalt entirely, you can have a professional apply sealcoating or crack filler to the affected area as a temporary solution to hold it over. 

Replace the Surface

The best way to repair alligator cracking is to replace the entire surface. This cost-effective solution will withstand the elements longer than temporary fixes.

A professional can install a new subbase, then begin laying the fresh asphalt. Be sure to keep up with regular maintenance to get the most out of the new surface.

Fix Alligator Cracking With ToriTom Services

Are you looking for a trusted partner for your asphalt repair and installation? Turn to ToriTom Services. We use high-quality materials and are transparent with our pricing to ensure we meet all your needs. We provide everything from asphalt paving to installation to concrete flatwork. 

At ToriTom Services, we prioritize customer satisfaction at every stage of the process, from in-person assessments to a complimentary follow-up after we complete your project. We also offer a one-year warranty to ensure you are always happy with our work. 

To learn more, explore our commercial asphalt repair services or call us at 941-932-2593 today.