What Is Alligator Cracking?

Just by hearing the name, alligator cracking, you likely already know what we are referring to. This is because you’ve probably seen it before. This type of pavement fatigue gets its name from the way it looks. Its distinctive pattern of cracks resembles the scales on a reptile’s back. Alligator cracking is one of the most common ways that asphalt pavement deteriorates overtime. Unfortunately it is one of the most serious as well.

What Causes Cracks?

  1. what is alligator crackingPoor installation methods are often a common culprit.
  2. Alligator cracking is more than just surface-level breakage. It is classified as fatigue cracking. The problems beneath the asphalt is most likely the cause (which is why it’s so serious).
  3. Crocodile cracking occurs when the pavement is carrying loads that the supporting structure and base cannot support. This is due to the sub-base being built improperly. It is either too thin or compaction was done unevenly.
  4. Poor drainage can also contribute to alligator cracks in asphalt.
  5. Fatigue cracking does not simply happen overnight, but overtime and generally begins with small cracks that see further damage due to the elements and traffic burdens. Repairing small cracks can help to lessen the chances of serious fatigue cracks. But, if the base installation of your pavement or asphalt has been done incorrectly, chances are, serious deterioration will occur.


  • Hire Reputable – Laying pavement without properly preparing the sub-base, without properly planning for an effective draining system, and/or using the wrong material (and not enough thickness) will often result in damages that lead to premature deterioration. Researching your contractor and hiring a reputable company is the most important first step to any paving project.
  • Preparation Is Key – You may think preparation work is a good area to cut some corners. Especially if you’re trying to lessen cost, but it’s NOT! Preparation sets the tone for how your pavement will wear and how it will handle the elements. Your pavement needs proper preparation. Typical traffic volume and loads, weather conditions, etc. play a role. For example, a driveway that only sees a few passenger cars daily will not see a lot of cracking. However, it will differ greatly from a roadway that has fast and heavy traffic loads. More so, if cargo trailers frequent your lots.
  • Proactively Maintain & Repair – Minor cracks in asphalt can progress to large deficits, like fatigue cracking and breaking down. When you are proactively maintaining your asphalt and filling minor cracks, you can help to avoid larger deficits like alligator cracking.

Fixing Driveway Cracks:

  • Temporary FixSealing cracks; filling and sealing needs to take place once you see obvious signs.
  • Long-Term Fix – Removing the asphalt to discover the underlying problem beneath the surface will take place. It will provide a long-term solution for alligator cracks. This will ultimately strengthen the asphalt’s base. This will help avoid continuing fatigue cracking (that will ultimately lead to complete pavement deterioration).

how to repair alligator crackingIf your pavement has severe alligator cracks in several areas due to improper base installation, it may be more cost effective to replace the entire surface. This will allow for proper preparation, proper installation of the support sub-base, and installation of asphalt to the proper thickness.

A proper installation is the first step in determining how your asphalt will fare the conditions. From there, putting together a plan for maintenance and repairs is key. This will assist in preserving the health and structure of your asphalt.

If your parking lot has alligator cracking, you’ll want to have a professional inspect it. They can look at the affected area to discover the route of the problem. Implementing a long-term solution to this issue is key in preserving the life of your asphalt. Remember to do you research before hiring a paving contractor to avoid having to do the job twice. Contact EastCoat Pavement today for your free asphalt repair, asphalt maintenance, and/or asphalt paving consultation!

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