Commercial & Residential Crack Sealing
Understanding the Why’s, the Different Options, and Setting Expectations
Importance of Crack Sealing Your Asphalt/Pavement Driveway or Parking Lot
Addressing the cracks in your asphalt and properly sealing them from the elements and moisture is vital to the longevity of an asphalt driveway or parking lot. One of the most damaging elements to any asphalt is moisture/water. Besides the damage it causes to the surface asphalt of unprotected (unsealed) pavement, moisture will find it way into cracks in the asphalt and get down into the sub-base material (CA-6 gravel) below the asphalt. The sub-base is what supports the asphalt and when mositure gets into the sub-base it will erode away areas of the sub-base and creating weak spots in the asphalt. These weak spots lead to cracking in the asphalt and if these cracks aren’t addressed as they arise, more moisture will get into the sub-base and will cause cracks to grow, splinter off into new ones, and get to a point where the asphalt forms areas of dense amount of cracks in a given area called “alligator” or “spider web” cracking. Once asphalt gets to this point, the sub-base has completely failed under the asphalt and only way of fixing these areas is the expensive process of sawcutting out the asphalt area, fixing the sub-base material and installing new asphalt (asphalt patching process).
The other issues from moisture getting into the sub-base is due to the climate that we live in. Water in the sub-base goes through the freeze-thaw cycle of winter, which causes the pavement to heavy and leads to the formation of potholes.
Setting Expectations of Cracks & Crack Sealing
The most important thing to understand about the formation of cracks in your driveway or parking lot can be caused by a number of different varible, with many of them being cause by something that is out of our control; Mother Nature. Besides the elements, weather, moisture, ground movement/shiftting, etc., cracks can also form due to imporper installation processes when the asphalt was laid. Not enough base material or unproperly compacted base material, or thinnly laid asphalt, or not properly compacted/rolled asphalt, can also all lead to crack formation. Understanding this, one can see the difficulty of finding the “perfect solution” to crack sealing. The other important issue to understand is that crack sealing doesn’t acutally “fix” the crack. Crack sealing is a preventative maintence practices that fills in and seals the cracks to help keep the cracks from getting worse. The only way to “fix” a crack in your asphalt/pavement, would be to remove the asphalt area and repave. Also, since cracks are affected so, much by the elements of Mother Nature, any crack sealing is only temporary and in most cases open up again. This is why routine asphalt maintenance such as, crack sealing and sealcoating are so important.
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Types of Crack Sealing & Understanding Expectations
There are really only two types or catagories of crack sealers and are very different in life span, cost, application process, and final appearance. There is hot crack seal and cold crack sealer (goes by many other names also). If you request a free estimate from MML, we will discuss each process with you, expectations and provide a recommendation based on your driveways size, condition, maintenance schedule, etc.
Hot Crack Sealing
Hot crack seal is what you see on public streets and commercial parking lots. The application process of hot crack seal is very time consuming and much more difficult to work with even with our best in class equipment we use to apply it. Hot crack seal is a rubberized sealer that needs to be heated to 400 degrees to liquify it so, it can be applied to the asphalts cracks. Due to the amount of time and material cost, there is a minimum of $100 charge. However, the durability of hot crack seal is unmatched by anything else and the rubber properties in the hot crack seal are able to flex with the asphalt expanding and contracting through the different seasons of Chicago. The reason we only use hot crack sealer for commercial parking lots is due to amount of traffice and the longer inbetween time parking lot maintenance runs on. Most homeowner’s routinely get their driveway crack sealed and sealcoated every year or every other year because it is an inexpensive way to keep up the appearance of the property and protect the asphalt. However, for larger parking lots the cost of crack sealing, sealcoating, and striping is much greater than a two car driveway and their schedule for asphalt maintenance is between 3-5 years. With the amount of traffic a commercial parking lot will see and the length between sealcoating, hot crack seal is the only worth while option.
Cold Crack Seal (Trowel Grade)
Cold crack seal is what is used most common on your basic residential driveways (never used on parking lots). The main reason for this comes down to cost and appearance. Cold crack seal is by far less expensive then hot crack seal option and tends to blend better/help hide the cracks better with the sealcoat that is applied over the top of the crack seal. The problem with cold crack seal is its durability/longevity. Cold crack seal is a cost effective application for home owners who routinely get their driveway sealcoated every year or at best every other year. Cold crack seal is a temporary fix for cracks that will get through the seasons, but eventually the cracks will open up again due to the expanding and contracting of the asphalt through the seasons and natural ground movement/shifting.