Falling through the cracks: When should I pave?

Mar 4, 2021 10:53:54 AM / by Jaqualynn Durbin

Parking lots, trails, and other asphalt areas may seem like easy and quick construction projects, but they are more complex than most people realize. Various types of problems can arise with your asphalt including Alligator Cracks, Potholes, and more. Depending on the problems your asphalt is experiencing, different paving options exist.

Fortunately, there are many qualified experts including those at IAP who can best advise you on what your asphalt may need. Below, we give a brief overview of common problems and solutions to paving issues.

IAP Paving

Spotting Problems

Alligator Cracks

Alligator Cracks

Alligator cracks are named after the scaley look of an alligator. These cracks can range between surface and deep cracks. When you see alligator cracks, more cracks will follow as the asphalt splits into small “scales.” Often the “scales” can raise or lower with the weather, some even completely separate from the surrounding asphalt. This separation can lead to holes, bumps, and generally worsening conditions for your asphalt. In areas that experience intense summers and winters, alligator cracks are a warning sign of future potholes.



Anyone who has been to northern U.S. is familiar with potholes. Potholes occur for a variety of reasons and can range from small surface ruts to large, deep holes in your asphalt.

Potholes can lead to not only further pavement issues, but also vehicle damage and possible injury for your guests. When water pools in these potholes, you risk large puddles forming which can disguise the hole. Because of this watery disguise, your guests may accidentally step in the hole which might lead to a mild inconvenience or even a broken ankle.

Potholes can also raise issues for individuals with mobility issues. To ensure that guests who may be confined to wheelchair can adequately utilize your facility, it is important that they don’t risk injury avoiding potholes and ruts in your asphalt.


Drainage Issues

When it rains, does water pool in sections of your asphalt?

It is possible that your lot doesn’t have proper drainage systems set up. Drains should be strategically placed around the area to effectively and efficiently prevent standing water. If drains are too high or incorrectly placed, you may need to consider moving them to maximize their efficiency.

Your asphalt may not be leveled correctly to allow water to travel to the correct drains. Sometimes areas of your asphalt can sink, making a once correctly planned parking lot or trail pool water.

ADA Compliance

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues guidelines and regulations any public facility should allow in order for guest with disabilities to utilize the facility. Although passed in 1991, ADA guidelines have changed in recent years. Many facilities have been unable to implement ADA compliant features or struggle to understand the latest changes to ADA guidelines.

Possessing an ADA compliant facility is critical to providing all guests quality service, regardless of physical condition.

Surface Damage? - Seal Coat

Applying a Seal Coat

Most often, the only thing your asphalt needs is a seal coat. A seal coat is sprayed onto your existing asphalt, filling in cracks and adhering pieces of broken asphalt back together. A seal coat should be applied to every 2-3 years to help protect your investment.

This process is quick and can add an additional 10+ years to your lot. This good maintenance practice is more affordable for organizations who cannot afford a total replacement of their asphalt and only have surface cracks and damage.

After the seal coat is applied, any pre-existing pavement markers will be repainted, making your lot look new and crisp.

You should consider using a seal coat when your asphalt is still in good condition with only surface level flaws.

What about Potholes? – Patch & Repair

Patch & Repair Result

Potholes on most roadways are filled with more asphalt to allow traffic to continue over it without shutting down an area for a prolonged period of time. While this filling process is quick, it isn’t always the best solution. As the weather changes, the earth under the pothole can raise or lower that pothole to either create a new hole or a bump which can also damage your vehicle. Filling the pothole will not necessarily prevent cracks from forming around the pothole site. This often leads from one pothole turning into multiple potholes.

Another solution to potholes is a patch and repair method. With this method, a crew will cut around a pothole and remove the surrounding asphalt. The area is then patched with new asphalt. This technique is more secure and still a cost-effective solution when your overall lot is still good condition.

Multiple Problems? - Total Replacement

Replacement Process

You may be thinking to yourself that your lot needs more than just minor repairs. Sometimes cracks or potholes are too deep or too many exist to attempt either a seal coat or a patch and repair. Typical asphalt lasts between 10-15 years but may be needed earlier depending on how much traffic your asphalt receives.

Whether you need a total replacement is partially based on what region of the U.S. you reside in.

In Northern States, the soil is often composed of clay or other muddy materials that hold moisture. Moisture can be intense during rainy periods and very dry during drought periods. In states prone to these fluctuations, asphalt will deteriorate faster due to the ground flexing beneath it. Alligator cracks in this region often warrant a total replacement since these cracks will continue to worsen and lead to chunks missing in your asphalt within a short amount of time.

In Southern States, the weather is usually milder, and the soils is composed of drier materials like sand. Because of this, the asphalt doesn’t flex as much, meaning less maintenance for your asphalt.

Here are just some of the reasons you should consider total replacement:

  • A Seal Coat no longer adheres your asphalt together
  • Multiple deep potholes are appearing
  • Your asphalt is covered in alligator cracks
  • You live in an area with fluctuating weather and see alligator cracks in your asphalt
  • It’s been more than 15 years since your asphalt was replaced
  • Your asphalt is pooling water in multiple areas

You may not be sure if your asphalt requires maintenance or a total repair. That’s okay, but it’s important to start planning early!

When to start thinking about paving? – NOW!

It’s not too early to start planning your next paving project. If you’d like to pave during the summer, you’ll definitely want to have plans ready to go during the spring. If you wait too long, all the pavement contractors will be booked for the summer, charging you a higher premium for service.

In many states, you won’t be able to pave in the winter. In northern states, the asphalt plants shutdown during the cold months and do not resume until mid-spring. This means that the timeframe to pave in these states is shorter, so you’ll want to be sure you get your project on the schedule early.

Several pavement contractors are willing to provide services on days that you choose so long as you book far enough in advance. If you’d like your parking lot to be sealed during a time in which your facility is closed, your contractor can work with you to make that happen.

How IAP can help?

IAP will manage your paving project from start to finish. We will ensure we follow all state and federal guidelines as we oversee the pre-construction, construction, and close-out process. We will come out to your facility and assess which paving solution will be best for the quality of your facility and your budget. We then bid your project for you and allow you to select a qualified contractor from a narrowed down list. Once you select your preferred contractor, IAP will work with this contactor to provide a solution that goes above and beyond your expectations.

If you have any questions or you’d like to work with us on your upcoming paving project, click the button below!

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Tags: Tips & Tricks, paving

Jaqualynn Durbin

Written by Jaqualynn Durbin

Marketing Coordinator for IAP Government Services Group