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What Causes Asphalt Driveways And Parking Lots To Deteriorate and How To Save Them?

Broken and Cracked Asphalt - Residential Asphalt Paving - Maisano Bros Inc. North ford CT

Asphalt driveways are a popular choice for homeowners due to their cost-effectiveness and aesthetic appeal. The same is true for the parking lots of most residential housing projects, like condos, townhomes, and apartments, along with retail centers. Asphalt concrete pavements can be durable and cost-efficient. 

However, without proper understanding and maintenance, asphalt paving can deteriorate prematurely. This article explores the various factors that contribute to asphalt degradation, offering insights into how homeowners and property managers can protect their investments and extend the lifespan of their driveways and parking lots.

Maisano Brothers Inc. UV Rays Affect The Asphalt Lifespan
Sunlight & UV Rays Affect The Asphalt Lifespan

Exposure to the Elements

Sunlight and UV Rays

Sunlight plays a significant role in asphalt deterioration. UV rays from the sun cause the asphalt to oxidize, leading to a loss of flexibility and a faded appearance. This oxidation process makes the asphalt brittle, increasing the likelihood of cracks and other structural damage.

Water Damage

Believe it or not, water is one of asphalt’s biggest enemies! When water penetrates the asphalt’s surface through unsealed or improperly sealed cracks, it can erode the base, leading to potholes and further material breakdown during freeze-thaw cycles.

Temperature Fluctuations

Asphalt expands in heat and contracts in cold. These fluctuations can cause the material to crack if not properly designed or maintained. Repeated cycles of freezing and thawing are particularly damaging, as they can lead to significant structural failures.

Chemicals such as Ice melt or deicer, a blend of sodium chloride and magnesium chloride also affect the asphalt
Chemicals such as Ice melt or deicer, also have a negative affect on the asphalt

Chemical Damage

Oil and Gasoline

Asphalt driveways are prone to chemical exposure, particularly from oil and gasoline drips from vehicles. These substances can dissolve the binding agents in asphalt, leading to soft spots that may develop into potholes or other types of surface degradation.

Deicing Chemicals

In colder climates, the use of deicing chemicals such as salt can also damage asphalt. These chemicals can penetrate the asphalt and accelerate water penetration and freezing, exacerbating the freeze-thaw cycle’s effects.

Physical Stress

Heavy Loads

Regular traffic from heavy vehicles can cause ruts and grooves in asphalt. Over time, this stress can lead to structural damage, particularly if the asphalt was not designed to withstand such loads.

Standing Water

Poor drainage can result in standing water on the asphalt surface, which not only seeps into and weakens the asphalt but also contributes to the growth of algae and weeds that can further damage the surface.

Cracking asphalt due to physical wear and tear
Cracking asphalt due to physical stress

Poor Installation and Inadequate Maintenance

Subpar Installation

A driveway’s longevity starts with its installation. Poorly compacted subgrade, inadequate base thickness, or improperly mixed asphalt can all lead to a shorter lifespan. These issues might not be visible immediately but can cause problems over time, necessitating costly repairs or even complete replacement.

Neglecting Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial in extending the lifespan of any asphalt surface. Neglecting to seal cracks and joints promptly can allow water to penetrate the base, leading to severe structural issues. Similarly, failing to apply a sealcoat periodically leaves the driveway vulnerable to UV rays and chemical exposure.  See how to Breathe New Life Into Your Driveway Or How Often Should You Apply Sealcoating


Understanding the causes of asphalt deterioration is key to taking proactive steps to maintain your driveway and parking lot. Regular inspections, timely repairs, and appropriate preventative treatments can greatly extend the life of asphalt surfaces, ensuring they remain functional and attractive for years.

Does your driveway need some TLC? Call Maisano Bros!

If you notice signs of deterioration in your driveway, or if it’s been a while since your last professional maintenance check, now is the time to act. Contact a professional asphalt service to evaluate your driveway and discuss effective maintenance strategies tailored to your specific needs.

Is it time to provide some preventative maintenance for your parking lot or driveway? Consulting a professional asphalt contractor can provide peace of mind and ensure that your pavement maintenance plan is on the right track. A great place for you to begin is by simply calling Maisano Bros., Inc., at (203) 239-5405, and asking for your free inspection, which includes a complimentary estimate, if indicated. Find us on the web at

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