Should Ask Questions

In addition to our frequently asked questions, we also have compiled a list of what we call “should ask questions”–i.e., questions that people should ask us or any other paving contractor they work with.  Knowing the answers to these questions will help you make more educated decisions about maintaining your surface.

What are alligator cracks (also known as spider cracks)?

Alligator cracks occur when the base under an asphalt surface begins failing. In most cases this is caused by water underneath the surface. Because alligator cracks tend to spread, this is a problem that should be addressed right away.

The only way to permanently fix this problem is to cut out the affected area, replace the base, and re-pave. While more affordable, short-term fixes will only last six months or so and are not recommended.

Why does asphalt crack?

Given enough time, all asphalt surfaces will crack as the material begins to break down and separate. However, sometimes new surfaces can crack when the base layer was not properly installed. This allows water to seep in under the surface and cause cracks. That’s one reason why it’s so important to hire a reputable paving contractor to install your driveway or parking lot.

Other reasons asphalt can crack include tree roots growing underneath the surface or insufficient thickness to handle the weight.

What type of material do you use for the base layer?

One of the main reasons new asphalt surfaces crack is due to a poorly constructed base layer. Sometimes, less than reputable contractors will attempt to save time or money by using sand or dirt instead of crushed stone to construct the base. Virginia Paving and Sealcoating uses tightly packed crushed stone for a base in our paving projects.

Is it ok to use salt to melt ice on my asphalt driveway or parking lot?

If possible, use sand instead of salt to improve traction on asphalt surfaces. Salt will speed up the melting process and cause water to seep directly into the paved surface, where it will re-freeze and cause cracks (or widen existing cracks). Also, be very wary of using ice-melting chemicals on an asphalt surface, especially if it is not properly sealcoated.

Why should I use a professional sealcoating service for my driveway vs trying to do it myself?

A trained professional using proper equipment can complete a residential driveway sealcoating job in as little as 30 minutes to an hour, whereas the typical homeowner will spend most of a day getting the job done. It’s hot, smelly work, and if you miss a crack or two, it can shorten the life of your driveway by years.