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What are asphalt distresses?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2021 | Uncategorized

Asphalt is a strong and serviceable paving material that offers many advantages. However, due to factors such as construction deficiencies, drainage problems or traffic loading, it can start to break down over time. Distress refers to the damage caused by the deterioration.

A distressed asphalt parking lot can pose tripping hazards to visitors to the property. Property owners should look for evidence of the following distresses in their parking lots and have them repaired as needed.


Disintegration occurs when the asphalt breaks up into small pieces. Over time, the pieces become lost due to traffic. Potholes develop over time due to disintegration and pose risks to pedestrians and vehicles alike. Another type of disintegration is raveling, which occurs when traffic wears aggregate particles away.


Cracks can form in asphalt due to a number of different factors. Some are environmental and some relate to the load that the asphalt must bear. There are many different patterns of asphalt cracks. The different patterns have various causes, so recognizing the pattern may provide a clue to the underlying condition that resulted in the crack, as well as the repair needed.


Distortion is a change in the shape or appearance of the asphalt, such as an upheaval or a depression. Distortions occur due to problems with the subgrade or base layers or instability of the asphalt mix. Also called wash-boarding, shoving occurs due to horizontal stresses that cause ripples in the asphalt, while rutting is a surface depression following the wheel-path of motor vehicles in a linear fashion.

Different distresses can compound one another, e.g., a pothole forming because of asphalt cracking. Timely maintenance may prevent this.