What is Asphalt Pavement Raveling?

Due to its versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness, asphalt is one of the most popular paving materials in the world. However, asphalt is still prone to cracking, pitting, and raveling if it doesn’t receive proper maintenance.

Raveling can be found on asphalt roads, parking lots, playgrounds, and paths. This problem is described as the slow degradation of asphalt from the top down. The internal aggregate particles slowly become more visible, eventually dislodging from the asphalt binder altogether.

If your pavement looks rough and rocky, you could have a raveling problem. Learn more about what causes raveling and the repair options available.

What Causes Asphalt Raveling?

Raveling tends to affect old, neglected pavement. If ignored, it can lead to awful-looking asphalt and structural problems. Here are some specific reasons why aggregate particles can begin separating from the asphalt binder:

  • Dust coating: Aggregate particles can form a layer of dust on top of newly installed pavement. If this happens, the asphalt binder may bond with this layer instead of the intended aggregate, increasing the risk of raveling later on.
  • Aggregate segregation: High-quality aggregate contains both coarse and fine particles, giving the asphalt binder plenty of surfaces to bond to. During installation, the workers must rake the aggregate to evenly distribute different-sized particles. Otherwise, the resulting aggregate segregation may cause the asphalt to bind poorly, eventually leading to raveling.
  • Poor compaction: If the workers fail to adequately compact the asphalt during installation, the binder won’t bond to the aggregate properly. Poor adhesion can also occur if the asphalt is installed in lower-than-recommended temperatures.
  • Traffic wear and tear: Busy roads with high speed limits experience extra wear and tear. As a result, they are susceptible to raveling as cars mechanically dislodge aggregate over time.
  • Weather: Oxidation from sunlight and erosion from wind and rain can gradually weaken the bond between the asphalt binder and aggregate, causing the paved surface to slowly degrade as a result.

Determining the Severity of Pavement Raveling

Raveling is subtle at first, slowly making its way through the asphalt. If you don’t repair it promptly, the problem will only get worse. Here’s how to judge the severity of asphalt raveling:

  • Low severity: The pavement is a little rough and has a slightly aged look. At this point, raveling is not widely apparent. No structural problems have occurred yet, so your road is still safe to drive on. However, this is when you should take action to avoid more expensive repairs.
  • Medium severity: The asphalt is becoming rougher and more pitted. Some fine aggregate is missing from the surface. Explore your repair options soon to avoid having to completely replace your pavement.
  • High severity: The surface appears rough everywhere you look. Deep pits reveal coarse aggregate particles, creating a rocky appearance. You may even find loose stones and sand on the surface or in nearby gutters. Without repair, severe raveling can become a structural issue that could make the road unsafe to drive on.

How to Repair Asphalt Raveling

The recommended repair depends on the extent and severity of the asphalt raveling. Here are your options:

  • Seal coating: You can always repair pavement raveling, but it’s best to prevent the problem in the first place. As soon as you notice signs of low-severity raveling, stop the degradation in its tracks with seal coating. This is the process of spraying asphalt emulsion over your existing pavement to reseal the surface. If you keep up with seal coating every few years, you can avoid the need for any additional repairs.
  • Patching: Once pavement raveling reaches medium severity, it may be necessary to patch the asphalt. Patching involves removing and replacing damaged sections, which can be done relatively quickly and cost-effectively.
  • Milling and overlay: If your entire parking lot or other paved surface has been deteriorating for years, you may need asphalt milling. This is when the topmost layer of asphalt is ground down and removed. Then, an overlay is applied to restore the surface to like-new condition.
  • Full pavement replacement: The only way to fix the most severe raveling is to perform a full-depth asphalt removal. Then, new asphalt pavement is installed. From here on out, you can maintain a beautiful paved surface and prolong the life of your asphalt with routine seal coating.

Contact Cactus Asphalt Today

If you notice signs of raveling, don’t ignore it! Instead, turn to Cactus Asphalt for affordable asphalt raveling repair in Phoenix. We provide comprehensive commercial asphalt services, so you can count on us for any pavement project you have. Once we understand your specific situation, we’ll tailor a solution to meet your needs and budget. Call us at (623) 552-7854 or contact us online to request a raveling repair estimate today.