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What Makes Parking Lot Asphalt Sag and How to Fix It

What causes asphalt to buckle

From lots of vehicle traffic to weather and simple age, pavement can start to break down over time. And one of the most annoyingly common signals your asphalt requires repair is a sagging, uneven surface. 

Unfortunately, that’s a problem in a host of ways—creating hazards for drivers and pedestrians, making your property look unappealing to patrons, and increasing liability risks. You don’t need that. Here’s what to know to pinpoint the cause of your weakened pavement, and what to do to repair it.

Why Your Asphalt Starts to Sag 

If you’re seeing potholes, depressions, or other signs of uneven pavement, it’s time to start investigating the cause. It’s likely your issue is being triggered by one or more of these situations:

Inferior Installation 

When your pavement is first laid down, the process should be done with careful precision to create a firm, smooth surface you can rely on. If the company that did the work cut corners or wasn’t as attentive to details as they should have been, the result may lead to “poor compaction.” 

To get a picture of what this is, imagine you’re measuring brown sugar. If you push it down as much as you can, it creates a tighter fit in the measuring cup. But if you just pour it in loosely, you end up with lots of air pockets. Maybe that’s not a big concern for sugar, but for asphalt, it’s problematic because it weakens your parking lot and makes it wear down faster than it should.

Pavement Fatigue 

If you’re seeing potholes and alligator cracking (a distinctive pattern that resembles a reptile’s scales), it’s a sign of pavement fatigue. Not only does it look unsightly, but it can get costly.

Asphalt shows this issue when it is forced to carry a heavier weight-load than it’s capable of doing, and so it begins to sag. The cause may be that the pavement wasn’t laid thickly enough to bear the weight of vehicles, or it may be that the foundation of the asphalt (the base course or sub-grade) is deteriorating. Sometimes, it happens because large, heavy trucks are using pavement designed strictly for cars.

This will wear down your asphalt sooner than normal, and it should be addressed.

Exposure to the Elements

Over time, the weather and other environmental effects will cause damage to your parking lot. If your property is located somewhere that gets a lot of rain, snow and ice, or if runoff from drainage doesn’t happen properly, your asphalt can get exposed to too much moisture, which leads it to wear down.

Another issue is the expansion and contraction of the surface due to temperature changes. That process can also be hard on your pavement—even making it shrink. The result may be potholes, or just a general unevenness to what was once a smooth surface.

Poor Asphalt Mix 

If asphalt isn’t properly prepared and of good quality, it’s likely to show its age sooner than well-made, carefully installed pavement laid by professionals. One of the most common results of a bad mixture of asphalt is raveling—loose gravel instead of one smooth surface of pavement.

Raveling is definitely unsightly and annoying—but it’s also a red flag that your parking lot is wearing down. If you’re not already noticing an uneven surface, it’s only a matter of time until you do.

Poorly Constructed Joints 

When pavement is laid for large areas like commercial parking lots and driveways, the substructure typically includes supports—in other words, joints should be set carefully in place to keep the structure intact.

When those joints aren’t well made or properly placed, asphalt can begin to shift. You may see signs of that in the form of longitudinal cracks (parallel to the pavement’s centerline), transverse cracks (at 45-degree and 90-degree angles from the pavement’s centerline), or block cracks (interconnected cracks that form rectangular patterns). The breaks in the pavement may also lead to sagging or uneven areas of your parking lot.

How Serious Is Sagging Pavement? 

All of these signs of sagging, cracked or uneven pavement mean that your parking lot surface is not performing as well as it should. And the result is that your asphalt is not going to last as long as you’d prefer it to. You’ll find yourself dealing with repairs a lot sooner than you’d like—with all the hassles and expenses that go along with that.

Make Repairs and Apply a Sealant 

Don’t overlook signs of pavement damage. To get the greatest lifespan out of your asphalt—and make it easier to maintain a beautiful, safe property—get uneven asphalt pavement repaired by professionals and lay down a sealant that protects it against damage. 

Address Parking Lot Issues Now—and Get More Life Out of Your Asphalt   

Why not keep your parking lot asphalt in top condition for longer? With a regular treatment of EverLine Coatings & Services specialty asphalt sealant, you can beautifully repair sags and cracks before they grow worse, and protect your paved areas against damaging weather and heavy traffic too.

Learn more about how EverLine Coatings & Services can make that easier for you—with more lasting results—with asphalt seal coating and repair that gives your parking lot longer life.

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