STAGES OF ASPHALT DETERIORATION
After the first year, asphalt begins to lose the binding oils that keep the mixture flexible and resilient. This happens through the normal cycle of the weather (rain, freeze/thaw cycle, wind, etc) and evaporation.
The asphalt begins to oxidize and turn grayish in color and appearance. This is the ideal time to sealcoat. At this point, the surface is still in great condition and is ready for a sealcoat to preserve its integrity and appearance.
At this point, the surface of the pavement begins to lose its integrity. The aggregate materials on the top of the pavement are exposed. The surface appears rough, or rougher than the original application. The sand that is used to help seal and keep a smooth finish is working its way out with the help of the weather. Sealcoating at this stage will return integrity to the pavement and return the condition of the pavement to original application.
Loose rock begins to appear on the surface of your asphalt. The common conception is that vehicles or traffic is bringing this in and depositing it. Actually, this is your pavement beginning to unravel and detach itself from the top layer. In addition, you may begin to notice small cracks along seams. This is asphalt’s worst enemy! Through these cracks, water now has an entry point into the base and sub base of your pavement. Heaving (due to freezing and thawing) and disruption and washing away of the base materials can now occur. Sealcoating, along with some other materials, will be needed to get your pavement back to Stage One.
Loose rock is now collecting in “puddles” on the pavement. Larger cracks (1/4” and larger) are now appearing with small cracks leading out from them, like a spider web. These large cracks require a crack sealer to prevent water and debris from filling them and causing more damage. Finally, a sealcoat over the whole investment should be done to prevent further deterioration.
At this point, deterioration of the pavement escalates at a rapid pace. The cracked areas begin to look like an alligator’s skin. Repair at this level now requires removal of the “gatored” areas and the asphalt replaced. Depending on the condition of the rest of the pavement, asphalt skin patching may be required.
Small pieces of asphalt begin breaking off around the larger cracks. Potholes, or chuckholes begin appearing. At this point, the pavement will need non-stop patching to keep it in presentable condition.
At this point, the pavement has deteriorated to the point that a fresh overlay of asphalt is the only logical and long-term solution.