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Cracks, Potholes, and More: Understanding Typical Pavement Damage Types

When it comes to maintaining a safe and functional asphalt surface, understanding the various types of pavement damage is crucial. Identifying and repairing pavement damage early on can help prevent more serious issues later on. In addition, keeping surfaces maintained ensures that drivers (and pedestrians in parking lots) are traversing a safe environment. From cracks to potholes and everything in between, recognizing typical pavement damage types can help pave the way for effective repairs and prevent further deterioration.


One commonly encountered type of pavement damage is cracking. These fissures can occur due to a variety of factors, such as temperature fluctuations, heavy traffic loads, or water infiltration. Understanding the different types of cracks can be instrumental in determining the cause and developing an appropriate solution.

  • Longitudinal cracks – run parallel to the direction of the road and are often caused by aging or structural issues.
  • Transverse cracks – run perpendicular to the direction of the road and typically occur due to temperature changes.
  • Block cracks – interconnected rectangular-shaped cracks that divide the pavement surface into blocks. They usually indicate significant distress within the pavement.


Potholes are another significant concern for maintenance crews. These depressions in the pavement often result from the expansion and contraction of water beneath the surface combined with constant traffic wear. This is why potholes tend to pop up more often during the winter months, when melting ice and snow seeps into pavement and refreezes. Identifying potholes early on and promptly repairing them not only improves road safety but also prevents more extensive damage that could lead to costly reconstruction efforts.

Other Typical Pavement Damage

While cracks and potholes are widespread forms of pavement damage, other less-known issues should also be on our radar. One example is raveling, where pieces of aggregate become dislodged from the asphalt surface over time due to excessive traffic or improper installation techniques. Additionally, alligator cracking – named after its resemblance to an alligator’s skin – involves interconnected cracks that resemble scales and usually indicates underlying structural problems. Finally, spalling is a type of deterioration where small fragments or chunks break off from pavements due to freezing and thawing cycles. These loose fragments create a hazardous environment for drivers as they can cause tires to lose contact with the road surface.

Contact Pro-Pave to Repair and Maintain Your Pavement

Understanding the different types of pavement damage goes beyond mere awareness; it enables us to develop strategic maintenance plans tailored to each issue’s unique characteristics while addressing root causes rather than just superficial fixes.

Pro-Pave Inc. specializes in providing a wide array of asphalt repair and maintenance services to clients throughout the DC and Northern Virginia area. Our team of experts can assess the condition of your pavement, determine the cause of any issues you may be having, and develop a long-term solution to fix it. To learn more about how we can help and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at (703) 433-9500 today! You can also fill out our contact form and one of our experts will be in touch.