The ideal asphalt driveway is smooth, black and level. When properly laid and maintained, asphalt can last more than 30 years. However, several different factors can distress your driveway and crack it. Below are several types of asphalt cracks  that may affect your pavement’s lifespan and the reasons behind them.


Cracking can occur for several reasons. Loads, the environment, and use can all contribute to the various cracking asphalt can suffer from. Fixing these depends primarily on the reason behind the crack.

  • Alligator Cracking: Alligator cracking, also known as fatigue cracking, is named for its resemblance to alligator skin. Several load-related factors contribute to the formation of alligator cracking. These include a weakened foundation layer, payment that is too thin, and/or overloading.
  • Block Cracking: Block cracking refers to cracks that appear in large, rectangular patterns. These blocks are usually a foot or more in size. The primary cause of block cracking is temperature cycles that lead to asphalt shrinkage. It will usually occur in larger zones and where traffic is not necessarily common.
  • Longitudinal & Edge Cracking: Longitudinal cracking appears as cracks that run parallel to the center of your driveway. Although these cracks are not load-related, they are caused by several different issues. Shrinkage and improper pavement operations can cause longitudinal cracking. Additionally, if there is a crack on the underlying layer, it can present as a longitudinal crack once it makes its way to the surface. Edge cracking is a longitudinal crack that occurs within a couple feet of the perimeter of your asphalt. Unlike other longitudinal cracks, these are directly related to the lack of support around the rim of your pavement.
  • Reflection Cracking: Reflection cracking occurs when new pavement overlays old, damaged or deteriorated asphalt. Because of the deterioration, the old pavement moves differently beneath the new layer and causes cracks to tear through the surface.
  • Slippage Cracking: Slippage cracks are typically crescent-shaped. These cracks occur when asphalt is poorly mixed, resulting in low strength, or poor bonding between the layers. Often, these cracks appear when a force, such as a turning vehicle or sudden braking, occurs.
  • Transverse Cracking: Transverse, or latitudinal, cracking runs perpendicularly to the center of your pavement. These cracks are not load-related. Like longitudinal cracking, these cracks can occur when there is shrinkage or a crack in the underlying layer.


Cracking is not the only type of damage that can cause your driveway to deteriorate. Distortion, disintegration, skidding, and various types of surface treatments can all cause your asphalt to age and breakdown faster than anticipated. Making timely repairs is crucial to keeping asphalt pavement functional. If you have questions about asphalt repairs or believe your driveway may be beyond simple home-maintenance, contact a reputable professional for an evaluation.


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