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Most Common Types of Asphalt Cracks

Most Common Types of Asphalt Cracks

Not all asphalt cracks are made equal.  While we tend to group them all together under the header of “damaged pavement”, asphalt can actually crack in multiple different ways, each with their own basic underlining causes and their own methods of repair.  Here are the most common types of crack you need to worry about.

Alligator Cracks

So named because they resemble the pattern found on alligator skin, these are the most common types of crack asphalt faces.  They spread far and wide across your pavement, covering a large surface area in a relatively short time.  Usually, this is a sign of a weak area in the base layer of your asphalt, though particularly weak areas of the surface or poor drainage could also be causes.

Block Cracks

These are big squares and rectangles, almost segmenting your asphalt and dividing it up.  These can be as small as a square foot or as large as 100 square feet, but generally are caused by an inability for your asphalt to expand and contract with changing temperatures, possibly caused by aging asphalt binder or a poor choice of binder from the very start.  Small block cracks can be sealed easily; larger cracks probably need to be removed and replaced.

Linear Cracks

Long, vertical cracks up and down the center of your asphalt are called linear cracks, because they’re primarily in a straight line.  While these can be caused by just general wear and tear, they’re often the result of bad joint construction.  As joints are the least dense areas of pavement, they can be prone to damage if placed in the wrong place (i.e. right in the wheelpath).

Traverse Cracks

If your asphalt is cracking horizontally, that’s a traverse crack.  These are usually caused by the weather, with low temperatures causing the surface to shrink.  They can also be caused by poor construction, but generally in Toronto, it’s the weather to blame.


The actual craters and depressions in your asphalt are grouped with cracks because they break the integrity of your surface, but we all know them as potholes.  These can be caused by any of the aforementioned cracks if left unattended, or by severe water or ice damage.  They can damage all the way down to the base of the asphalt, which is why it’s so important to take care of the other cracks while they are still minor!