Practical Ways To Help Prevent Those Costly Cracks In Your Asphalt Driveway

Mother Nature is certainly harsh on paved surfaces such as asphalt. Sunlight breaks down the surface, which in turns creates small pits and cracks. Then water seeps into those small pits and cracks and expands them to the point that the gravel base below begins to erode. If left alone, an asphalt driveway can turn into a crumbling mess within a few short months. Well-maintained driveways have curb appeal and make a great impression. Poorly maintained driveways have just the opposite effect, even if the rest of the property is in good shape.

In essence, they are an absolute eyesore. A severely cracked asphalt driveway can cause injury to people and damage to vehicles. The good news is that there are a few ways to help prevent your asphalt driveway from pitting and cracking. In the minimum, the following methods will greatly prolong the life of your driveway, and save you upwards of $5,000 plus in replacement costs.

Avoid Using Salt And Ice Melt During The Winter Months

The majority of people in New England use salt and or ice melt on their driveways when it snows during the winter months. Although those products are great at melting snow and ice, they also erode the asphalt. Your driveway is already taking a beating during the harsh winter because of the natural freeze and thaw cycles of the season. Adding salt and ice melt to the mix only adds insult to injury. For example, the salt and ice melt increases the thawing process of the snow and ice.

In turn, the water seeps directly into the paved surface where it will then refreeze immediately. When this occurs, it exerts pressure on the asphalt material. It does not take long for this to result in cracks. Instead of using salt, use sand. The snow and ice will not melt, however the sand will provide traction for people and vehicles without ruining your asphalt driveway.

Maintain And Manage Tree Roots

If you have trees that are located within the vicinity of your driveway, the roots may grow under the asphalt surface and cause problems. In fact, when tree roots grow rapidly in the spring, summer, and autumn, they can cause just as much damage as the freeze and thaw cycle that occurs during the winter months. As the roots continue to grow, they apply uneven pressure on areas of the driveway and the driveway’s foundation. This can quickly results in cracks in the asphalt once the pressure builds up past the point of the material’s breaking point.

If you are planning to plant new trees, it is wise to keep them a minimum of 10-15 feet away from the driveway if possible. You can also have a tree root barrier system installed on the sides of your driveway in order to prevent the roots from cracking the asphalt.  You may even consider removing existing trees that are located too close to your asphalt driveway. It is always a good idea to consult with a landscaping professional for additional methods of maintaining and managing tree roots that are growing near and or under your driveway.

Keep The Amount Of Surface Weight To A Minimum

Asphalt is a moderately strong material, however it is far from indestructible.  Most people assume that it can withstand a tremendous amount of surface weight without causing issues. That is simply not true. Pressure from above the surface can cause just as many cracks as pressure from below the surface. The specific amount of weight that an asphalt driveway can withstand is based on a few variables that center on the initial construction of the driveway.

The depth, makeup, and reinforcement of the base materials all factor into the equation. A good rule of thumb is to limit the surface weight to a maximum of 10,000 pounds. That means you should avoid parking certain types of heavy vehicles on your asphalt driveway for any prolonged periods of time. You should also avoid pilling up materials that weight over 10,000 pounds.


Cracks will eventually appear in your asphalt driveway no matter how many preventative measures that you may take. However, the proper maintenance certainly goes a long way in keeping your driveway in tiptop shape for the long run. If you do need driveway repairs or advice on a proper maintenance plan, please contact Mid-State Sealcoating today. We are a family based service company that specializes in the preservation of all asphalt surfaces including residential driveways and commercial parking lots.

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