How Cold Weather Affects Parking Lots

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cracked parking lot in san antonio

As summer quickly winds down (Doesn’t summer always go by too fast?), the time has come to turn our attention to fall, and eventually the onslaught of cold weather unleashed by Old Man Winter. It seems we just finish repairing the asphalt cracks and potholes caused by cold weather from the previous winter, when another round of winter’s torment hits our cities.

If you live in area that experiences cold weather at least one month out of each year, then you understand why local and state governments, along with the help of the federal government, need to spend plenty of time and financial resources repairing the damage caused to asphalt roads and parking lots. Although roads receive most of the attention, cold weather can also do considerable damage on parking lots.

Let’s learn how cold weather affects parking lots.

Cracking Up

No, cold weather is not a joking matter. We are talking about the cracks that form because of the constant thawing and refreezing of moisture, whether the moisture is rain or the liquid remnants left behind by snow. Thawing shrinks the volume of water and refreezing thawed water expands it. The result is the building up of small cracks that if left unattended are capable of growing into large cracks that span several inches wide.

Gator Cracking

Gator cracking is another example of how small cracks caused by the thawing and refreezing of water turns into a major crack headache. Gator cracking got its name for the way small cracks grow into a maze of cracks that look like the scales on the back of an alligator.


You have watched the television commercial that shows an upset motor vehicle owner calling his auto insurance company because of a pothole, albeit a pothole large enough to be called a small pond. The reaction displayed by the car owner is relatively mild compared to the anger we experience whenever we roll over a parking lot crater. Not only does the suspension system receive a huge jolt, we also absorb a tremendous amount of force along the back and the spine. When cold weather arrives, it is imperative to keep small holes from growing into mammoth potholes.

The Problem Called Rock Salt

How do we greet the cold weather triggered by Old Man Winter? The answer usually is throwing rock salt at it. Using rock salt is a strategy of melting ice and snow, but we know what comes after the big melt. It is called refreezing, which caused parking lot asphalt to expand into cracks and potholes. Advanced cold weather treatment technologies should one day make rock salt obsolete. Until then, you should use rock salt infrequently, if at all.

How to Repair Parking Lot Damage Caused by Cold Weather

There are two primary ways to repair the parking lot damage caused by cold weather: Patching and seal coating. Patching involves the process of filling up newly formed cracks and potholes with a substance that does not depend on the temperature of the air or the ground to be an effective repair option. Seal coating is considered the most effective, yet costliest strategy to repair the cracks and potholes caused by cold weather conditions. You perform seal coating before the temperature makes its first visit below the freezing mark. Reapply a coat of sealing on parking lot cracks and potholes every two or three years.

The best decision you can make for repairing the cracks and potholes that form on a commercial or a residential parking lot is to hire a professional team of asphalt experts to complete the job successfully. Bonded and licensed, our team of road and parking lot repair specialists provide superior customer service in addition to working with the highest quality patching and sealing materials.

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