What Causes Deterioration of Asphalt Pavement?

Broken, distorted, and damaged pavement not only looks tacky and unkempt, but can cause serious damage to vehicles and pedestrians in Tempe, AZ. An excessive amount of potholes can cause damage to the underside of vehicles, while excessive cracking or indentations could cause pedestrians to trip when walking. A faulty parking lot or driveway can be embarrassing for the Tempe business owner or homeowner.

asphalt pavement deterioration

Whether you live in an area with lots of snow and subsequent corrosive salting of roads or you live in the hot Arizona desert where the intense sun beats down on pavement materials, deteriorated asphalt pavement is a very common problem. While asphalt deterioration is ultimately unavoidable, there are steps you can take to maintain the integrity of your asphalt pavement and prevent further damage. Before you begin to take the steps to fix blacktop damage through asphalt maintenance, it is important to know exactly what causes asphalt deterioration, the types of deterioration that occurs, and if you can do something to prevent the surface from furthering the damage.

Regular Tempe asphalt maintenance that is preventative in nature can be the difference between having to repave your asphalt driveway or parking lot surfacing in a couple years or in ten years. Paving an asphalt space, whether it is small or large, is expensive and realistically can be postponed if regular quality asphalt maintenance is implemented early and preventative measures are taken to protect your asphalt pavement from deteriorating elements.

Asphalt damage is common and natural.

Asphalt is not an indestructible material. Over time, asphalt (a mixture of bituminous pitch and sand particles) breaks down due to natural and unavoidable elements such as excessive sunlight, salt buildup, chemical deposits from vehicles, or excessive storming and rain. Asphalt begins to lose its natural resistance to these factors over time and will need repair before it begins to deteriorate quickly. Poor construction or application of asphalt pavement can also be a factor in how long your blacktop holds up against the elements.


Sunlight and heat, especially in the sweltering Tempe, Arizona desert, takes a toll on asphalt. The sun’s rays can dry out asphalt through the process of oxidation. In doing so, the asphalt that was once a solid ‘liquid’ substance begins to shrivel up and separate, causing cracks and potholes that allow water from drains or rainfall to get underneath the surface of the asphalt. This causes further cracking and splitting and eventually creates separation between the asphalt and the compacted layer of material underneath.

Poorly compacted base underneath the layer of asphalt.

If a lackluster contractor paved your space, there could be human error involved in how well your asphalt pavement has held up. If the leveled base below the layer of asphalt pavement is poorly compacted, elements can damage your pavement at an accelerated rate and get under the layer of asphalt easier.

Introduction to Roadrunner Paving & Asphalt Maintenance


Once the elements listed begin to cause asphalt pavement to crack, water from drains or weather conditions will seep into the cracks of the dried up asphalt and really do the damage. Once water begins to heavily break the surface and deteriorate the integrity of the asphalt pavement, a paving contractor will need to be called in to repair the damage or to repave the entire area.

Poorly applied asphalt.

If a paving contractor uses less than two inches of compacted asphalt to pave your space, the stretched-thin material could begin to deteriorate faster than if it was applied with the proper amount of material. If asphalt was applied thicker than two inches, it does not necessarily mean a poor job was done, but if not paved in layer the asphalt could remain soft and soggy and prone to dents and air pockets. Asphalt pavements should be sealed approximately two months after the asphalt has been applied for further resistance to oxidization and deterioration. Application of weed killer underneath the asphalt pavement is also a wise option to prevent excessive breakthroughs of weeds from cracking and damaging your asphalt pavement.

Excessive chemical exposure.

Gasoline, motor oil, and other chemicals often leak from cars driving over asphalt pavement. These harsh chemicals can nearly dissolve asphalt through softening of the top layer. Proper asphalt maintenance through light rinsing of the blacktop periodically can help reduce the damage of chemical exposure, but it is an unavoidable casualty of having a blacktop for vehicles to drive over.


asphalt crack in tempe, az
Cracking is the most common type of deterioration that is visible. There are many patterns of unavoidable natural cracking that will occur, but a type of cracking called slippage is caused by poor application of asphalt. If you notice this type of cracking, it may be time to look into a new paving contractor.

Disintegration or softening.

Soft asphalt and potholes are types of asphalt disintegration caused by poor application or exposure to excess harsh chemicals.

Distorted asphalt.

Ever notice asphalt pavement that appears to have hills or sheets of material sloughing and bunching in different spots? This is known as asphalt distortion, and it stems from poorly compacted bases beneath the asphalt or excessive weight pushed onto the blacktop regularly.

What can I do and who should I call?

Roadrunner Paving & Asphalt Maintenance is a paving contractor you can trust to make your broken, pothole-ridden asphalt pavement like new. Because asphalt paving is a precise skill and should not be a DIY adventure, a trustworthy contractor that will do the job right is worth the investment. A proper paving contractor like Roadrunner Paving & Asphalt Maintenance will repair the damage and prevent it from excessively deteriorating before its time. Roadrunner Paving & Asphalt Maintenance began as a family business and still holds that integrity of accountable service close to home including Tempe, Arizona. Roadrunner Paving & Asphalt Maintenance is run by a family with years of paving expertise and asphalt knowledge. Call us today!

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Roadrunner Paving & Asphalt Maintenance
1959 S Power Rd, Suite 103-419
Mesa, AZ 85206

Phone: (480) 892-7101
Fax: (480) 892-0772
Email: office@roadrunnerpavingaz.com

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