Crack Sealing 101

Everyone knows it’s bad when your pavement cracks. But very few people understand why. Here are three main reasons:

  1. Cracking leads to more cracking; if it goes untreated, the problem escalates.
  2. Water makes its way through those cracks, which can lead to potholes. These are objectively worse than cracks.
  3. Cracks are just so dang ugly.

So, here’s how to seal the cracking in your pavement, protect your surface, and preserve your curb appeal.

You Can Only Seal “The Right Type of Crack”

This is a bit of an oversimplification. But speaking broadly, we seal the cracks that look like a straight or crooked line. If you’re interested in the technical terms, those are usually called transverse cracks and longitudinal cracks. But cracking that looks more like a spider web—called “alligator cracking”—isn’t right for sealing. Neither is cracking that looks like an elaborate sequence of alien crop circles.

Try to Catch the Cracking Early

Cracking is like any other problem; it gets worse over time. For example, when the temperature fluctuates, your pavement expands and contracts. That’s normal. But when you have cracking in your pavement, that expansion and contraction will make the cracking even worse. Once the crack is wider than 1.5 inches, it’s not right for sealing and has to go through a different, more complicated (more expensive) process. So, you always want to jump on these things early. (Or call Black Diamond and we’ll jump on it for you.)

Cleaning the Crack

The first step we do is to make sure the crack is completely free of debris. That cleanliness creates an ideal surface for the sealant to stick to.

The Hot Air Lance

As we’ve mentioned above, the sealant has trouble bonding to wet surfaces. But it’s not just water we need to worry about. Asphalt has a natural presence of oils, and we have to blast the crack with a hot-air lance that burns those oils away. These things can get up to 2,000 or 3,000 degrees, so it’s important this is done by a true professional. There’s a delicate balance between burning away the oils and using so much heat you damage the remaining pavement.

Selecting the Right Sealant

We’re almost ready to seal the crack, but there are different types of sealants we could use. Some are more flexible. Others are more rigid. When we take a look at your pavement, we assess many factors, such as the climate in your location, the amount of traffic your pavement gets, and the overall scope of the project. Like most things, crack sealing isn’t a one-size-fits-all job.

Sealing the Crack

Now it’s time to seal the crack. And for that, we need to bring out our trusty “pour pot.” As the name suggests, this helps us pour the sealant over the crack. Then we even it out with an asphalt squeegee. And after the sealant cures, traffic can get back on the surface. Keep in mind that you will still see the cracks but they will be sealed.

For all you #satisfying fans, we have a video where you can see our crack sealing process in action. Or give us a call to watch us fix up your pavement in real life—which is more than #satisfying. It’s just good sense.


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