Alligator cracking is an early sign that your pavement's substructure is at risk and you should take immediate action to patch it, before the problem is so severe that you're at risk for potholes.
The most likely causes of this distinctive reptile-like damage are:
- driving vehicles on the asphalt that are too heavy for the sub-structure
- letting small cracks go untreated for too long
- base failure (meaning it was improperly installed)
Preventing Alligator Fatigue Cracking
If you see your pavement cracking a few years after it was installed, take action immediately! If you wait until you see the loose stones and sand from the sub-level of the pavement, it's too late to fix it. You cannot patch or repair it.
But if you do take action right away on asphalt cracks, you can prevent water from seeping into the foundation and causing more damage. Why is this so important? The freeze-thaw cycle of water during winter can make these gaps in your asphalt grow larger, making your pavement weaker and leading to depressions or even potholes.
You've spent a lot of money on your asphalt. You don't want that investment to crumble and break apart! Taking care of crocodile cracks now will ultimately save you money in the long run.
Read our comprehensive Guide to Asphalt Crack Repair to find out exactly how to fill cracks so your fix lasts.
How To Repair Alligator Cracking In Asphalt
If it's too late to fix small cracks it's time to bring out the big guns: Gator Patch. Gator Patch is an asphalt repair patch designed to fill the fatigue cracks and create a watertight bond to protect your pavement. Gator patches can later be sealed over to make them blend in seamlessly with the rest of your pavement.
Pro Tip: If your asphalt has oxidized, meaning it is pale grey or whitish, all of the bitumen and tar has left it, leaving it brittle. It will be difficult for the Gator Patch to adhere to this surface. In that case you will want to use a primer before you repair patch.
Watch our step-by-step guide to alligator patch repair here:
Step 1: Thoroughly clean the area using a stiff-bristled broom. Sweep away any loose stones to ensure they don't get caught up in the patch product.
Step 2: Use a leaf blower to remove any sand or debris that remains.
Pro Tip: You don't want to use a pressure-washer to to clean the cracks if you plan to do the alligator asphalt repair job in one day. Pressure washers force water into the cracks and that is what we are trying to get rid of. If you do use a pressure washer, you'll need to allow at least 24 hours for the cracks to dry completely.
Step 3: Apply a thin layer of Gator Patch and begin to push it into the cracks using a neoprene squeegee. We recommend a 24" squeegee for best coverage and a smooth finish.
Step 4: Continue working the patch back and forth and across (left-to-right, up-and-down) until all the cracks are filled from different angles. Try to make your layer of gator patch as thin as possible to ensure better bonding. Take your time and give the material the chance to soak in fully so these gator cracks are completely filled. Use the squeegee to make smooth edges all around where the gator pave meets the driveway.
Step 5: Allow the gator patch repair section to dry completely. On warm days, this will happen in just a matter of a few hours: later in the season this may take a full day. Do not apply gator patch at temperatures that will fall below 50*F or it will not cure.
Step 6: Once the first coat has dried completely, apply a second thin coat. This second coat further fills in the cracks, topping them up to the same level as the existing asphalt, and the reinforced repair patch will help to protect the asphalt base from any further damage.
Pro Tip: Clean your tools promptly while they're still wet with straight water. If you wait too long, you'll need to use a solvent to remove the Gator Patch.
Step 7: After the second coat is completely dried, sealcoat the entire area to preserve the patch and make it blend in with the rest of the asphalt surface. Never sealcoated before? It's easy! Read our Guide to Sealcoating Asphalt.
Sealcoating will help against more damage, as it will block many of the elements from entering the asphalt and degrading it. With a regular schedule of repair when cracks appear and sealcoating every 2-3 years, you can keep your pavement in great condition for years and years if there aren't any structural issues.
What to Do if It's Too Late to Gator Patch
If you've let the damage get too far, and you can see right down to the loose gravel that makes up the foundation of your asphalt, gator patch is not going to solve the issue. The term alligator asphalt is a comparison to an alligator's skin: the damage is only skin deep. But if you can see down past that skin, you are beyond gator patch. You will need to fix the pothole.
If the pothole isn't too deep, it can be fixed. Our Asphalt Patching Guide takes you through each step of the pothole repair process so you can patch professionally with cold patch or hot patch.
Next Steps: Get Your Gator Patch
We have gator patch available in 5-gallon pails, half-pallets and full pallets. It needs to be protected from freezing, so order as much as you can safely store if you don't plan to use it all at once.
We also have a Gator Patch Repair Kit tool bundle. Get the brush and squeegee you need to create a permanent, long-lasting reinforced repair patch on your pavement. Click here to add to cart.
Do you have questions about fatigue cracks or Gator Patch? Our friendly experts are happy to help! Call us at 1-866-399-5562 for personalized advice on your asphalt areas and keeping your pavement maintained.