Does an Asphalt Overlay Eliminate the Cracks?

Does an Asphalt Overlay Eliminate the Cracks?

By Mark Beatty, Sr. Vice President / Published October 2022

Photos courtesy of Holbrook Asphalt Company

Think about that question for a minute. Before you continue, settle on your answer to the question, “Does an asphalt overlay eliminate the cracks?” Yes or no? 

      The answer is “yes” but only temporarily. The question should probably more accurately be, “How long after an asphalt overlay is completed until the cracks return?” The rule of thumb for an asphalt overlay is that for every inch of asphalt applied over an existing asphalt surface, it will be one year until that crack returns. The proper term is reflective cracking. 

     The reflective crack will not likely be at the pre-overlay width after a year (if a one-inch overlay or two years if it was a two-inch overlay), but it will likely be visible and continue to widen. Having worked with multiple communities that have experienced frustration after spending large sums of money for an overlay with the unexpected reflective cracking showing up a year later, I’m not anti-overlay, but I am pro-education so that community boards have proper expectations. 

     For communities that are considering an overlay that have a generous amount of cracking on their streets with evidence of base layer issues, I often provide a quote for full removal and replacement. That way, if there are issues with the base layer beneath the asphalt, those repairs can be made prior to the investment of new asphalt being installed. Sure, replacement is more expensive, so communities will need to save a little longer to have the required funds for the project, but you are addressing the root cause of the issues rather than temporarily masking over them. 

     However, the fact that communities find themselves in situations where these two options are what is on the table is disappointing because, more often than not, if a proactive preservation strategy had been in place, these fund-draining projects would not be required. If you have influence over your community’s streets and parking lots, encourage your board to get an orientation on pavement management. Contact me at, and I will put you in touch with an instructor presenting a course approved by Florida’s Department of Business & Professional Regulation on pavement management. The session usually lasts less than 90 minutes, and your community manager can receive continuing education credit as well. There are strategies, such as the use of HA5 High Density Mineral Bond, that can delay the age hardening of asphalt pavement by 67 percent for pavements in the appropriate condition. Implementing the right strategy for the condition of your community’s pavement can significantly delay the demand for the high-dollar costs of major rehabilitation or reconstruction. 

Mark Beatty

Senior Vice President, Holbrook Asphalt Company

     Mark Beatty is on the Advisory Board for the International Pavement Management Association and consults with public agencies and HOAs throughout the U.S. He is a sought-after presenter at public works events as well as HOA seminars. Mark serves as the Sr. Vice President at Holbrook Asphalt Company. You can contact Mark at