Edge Cracking in Asphalt: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions

Edge cracking is a common asphalt damage that is easy to fix. But it needs to be repaired immediately, or the damage will spread and destroy your asphalt.

Judson Burdon
Posted by Judson Burdon on November 28
  • Edge cracking in asphalt occurs due to the combined effects of traffic loading, temperature fluctuations, and moisture infiltration, which weaken the pavement's edges, leading to cracking.
  • It can compromise the structural integrity and longevity of the pavement, potentially leading to further deterioration and costly repairs if left unaddressed.
  • It is typically repaired by cutting out and removing the damaged section, filling the void with hot asphalt mix, and compacting it to restore the pavement's integrity.

There's regular asphalt cracking, and then there's edge cracking. Regular cracking is easier to manage with liquid crack filler and hot pour rubberized crack fill

Edge cracking is more complicated. It's position on the driveway or parking lot makes it harder to repair. But that doesn't mean it's not doable.

In this blog, you'll discover how edge cracking forms and why you should address it immediately upon discovery. We'll also discuss various solutions to this asphalt dilemma so you can extend the lifespan of the parking lot or driveway. Let's get started.

Table of Contents

What is Edge Cracking in Asphalt?

Edge cracking is a common pavement distress that occurs along the edges of roadways or driveways. It's typically caused by a combination of factors.

Characteristics-wise, you'll notice these cracks tend to form near the outer edges of the asphalt surface, usually within a foot or so. They start as small, often crescent-shaped cracks, and over time, they can grow longer and wider.

If left untreated, they might even connect and form irregular patterns resembling an alligator's skin. Hence, they're sometimes called "alligator cracks." These cracks are not only unsightly but can also lead to more extensive damage if not repaired promptly.

Edge cracking on asphalt driveways and parking lots can have both visual and structural impacts. These include:

Asphalt Kingdom Edge cracking 1Badly damaged asphalt showing edge cracking (Photo by Malachi Brooks on Unsplash)

Unattractive Appearance. Edge cracks are visually unappealing and can make your asphalt surface look neglected and poorly maintained.

Reduced Curb Appeal. If you have an asphalt driveway, edge cracking can detract from your property's curb appeal, potentially affecting its resale value.

Safety Concerns. In parking lots, these cracks can create tripping hazards for pedestrians, posing safety risks.

Weakened Edge Support. Edge cracking indicates a loss of support along the edges of the pavement. This can lead to edge deterioration, making the asphalt susceptible to further damage and potentially compromising the structural integrity.

Water Infiltration. Cracks allow water to penetrate beneath the surface, leading to erosion of the subbase. This can result in sinkholes, potholes, and uneven surfaces.

Frost Heave. In regions with freezing temperatures, water entering edge cracks can freeze and expand. This can cause the cracks to widen and deepen structural issues.

Accelerated Deterioration. If left untreated, edge cracking can progress into more extensive damage, such as alligator cracking. The presence of alligator cracking necessitates costly repairs or even complete resurfacing.

Related: How to Patch Asphalt: 7 Important Tips

Common Causes of Edge Cracking

Asphalt Kingdom TrucksTrucks in a parking lot (Photo by Kevin Bidwell via Pexels)

Traffic-Related Factors

Heavy Loads. Frequent passage of heavy vehicles, such as trucks and buses, can exert excessive stress on the edges of the pavement, leading to cracking over time.

Turning and Cornering. Vehicles making sharp turns or cornering at high speeds can place concentrated pressure on the pavement edges, making them more susceptible to cracking.

Environmental Influences

Freeze-Thaw Cycles. In regions with cold winters, freeze-thaw cycles can cause water to expand when it freezes, exerting pressure on the pavement edges and causing cracks.

Moisture Intrusion. Rainwater or irrigation runoff can infiltrate the pavement edges, weakening the underlying layers and promoting edge cracking.

Material-Related Factors

Low-Quality Materials. Inferior asphalt mixtures or subbase materials may lack the durability needed to resist edge cracking, especially under heavy traffic loads.

Inadequate Thickness. Thin asphalt layers or insufficient compaction can lead to reduced pavement strength, making edge cracking more likely.

Design and Construction Issues

Inadequate Drainage. Poorly designed drainage systems can allow water to accumulate at the edges, increasing the risk of moisture-related edge cracking.

Improper Base Preparation. Inadequate compaction of the subbase or subgrade layers during construction can create weak points along the pavement edges.

Lack of Edge Support. The absence of proper edge support, such as curbs or shoulder materials, can leave the pavement vulnerable to edge cracking.

Related: 5 Benefits of Using Asphalt Crack-Filling Equipment

Effects of Edge Cracking

Safety Risks. Edge cracking poses safety hazards for both drivers and pedestrians. Cracks can create uneven surfaces and trip hazards, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries.

Accelerated Deterioration. If left unaddressed, edge cracking can progress into more extensive pavement damage, such as alligator cracking. This accelerates the overall deterioration of the asphalt.

Increased Maintenance Costs. Repairing edge cracking requires timely attention, and neglecting it can lead to more costly and extensive repairs or even full resurfacing. This drives up maintenance expenses and reduces the pavement's service life.

Environmental Concerns. Water can infiltrate through edge cracks, causing runoff and soil erosion. This runoff may carry pollutants into nearby water bodies, impacting the environment and water quality.

How to Prevent Edge Cracking

asphalt kingdom road constructionAsphalt pavement construction

Proper Base Preparation. Ensure the subbase and subgrade layers are adequately compacted and prepared to provide a stable foundation for the asphalt.

Effective Drainage. Design and install proper drainage systems to redirect water away from the pavement edges, reducing moisture infiltration.

Edge Support. Include features like curbs, gutters, or shoulder materials to provide structural support to the pavement edges.

Quality Materials. Use high-quality asphalt mixtures and subbase materials to improve the durability of the pavement.

Thicker Edges. Increase the thickness of the asphalt near the edges to distribute loads more evenly.

Solutions to Edge Cracking

sealing-and-curingSealing asphalt prevents it from cracking

Crack Sealing. Apply crack sealant to existing small edge cracks to prevent water infiltration and further deterioration. Use Gator Patch to repair light alligator cracking located at the edges of the pavement.

Gator Patch (1)Gator Patch for Alligatored Asphalt

Edge Milling. Milling the pavement edge can remove damaged material and create a smooth transition to prevent further cracking.

Resurfacing. In cases of severe edge cracking, resurfacing the entire pavement may be necessary to ensure long-term durability.

Regular Maintenance. Implement routine maintenance practices, such as sealing the asphalt and addressing minor damage promptly, to prevent edge cracks from worsening.

Overlay with Geotextile. In some cases, using a geotextile fabric between layers of asphalt can help distribute loads and reduce stress on the edges.

Related: 5 Benefits of Using Asphalt Crack-Filling Equipment

Frequently Asked Questions About Asphalt Edge Cracking

1. What is edge cracking in asphalt, and how does it differ from other types of cracks?

Edge cracking in asphalt is a type of pavement distress characterized by cracks that form along the edges of roadways or driveways. It differs from other types of cracks, like alligator cracking or longitudinal cracking, as it specifically occurs near the pavement's outer edges.

2. What are the primary causes of edge cracking in asphalt pavements?

The primary causes of edge cracking in asphalt pavements include heavy traffic loads, sharp turns, and freeze-thaw cycles. Moisture infiltration, low-quality materials, inadequate thickness, and poor drainage can also cause edge cracking. 

Same goes for improper base preparation and the absence of edge support features.

3. How does edge cracking impact road safety and pavement longevity?

Edge cracking impacts road safety by creating uneven surfaces that can be hazardous for drivers and pedestrians. It also accelerates pavement deterioration, leading to increased maintenance costs and reduced longevity.

4. Can weather conditions and temperature fluctuations contribute to edge cracking?

Yes, weather conditions and temperature fluctuations can contribute to edge cracking. Freeze-thaw cycles and moisture intrusion during cold weather can weaken pavement edges, making them more susceptible to cracking.

5. What role does proper road design play in preventing edge cracking?

Proper road design plays a crucial role in preventing edge cracking by incorporating features like effective drainage systems, adequate base preparation, and edge support elements like curbs and gutters. Good design minimizes the factors that lead to edge cracking.


Ready to fix edge cracking in asphalt? Shop for the best crack repair products at the Asphalt Kingdom store. Choose from liquid crack fillers, Gator Patch, or hot pour rubberized crack filler. Give us a call or send us a message if you need help choosing the right product.

Topics: Asphalt Maintenance, Crack Repair

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