Asphalt driveways are an attractive, cost-friendly driveway alternative. They’re more pliable during temperature variations than concrete, dry quickly and are less likely to show oil stains. But as with everything, age eventually takes its toll, and your once sharp, slick asphalt drive will ultimately succumb to an array of cracks, dips and potholes.
Repairing your asphalt drive is not too difficult if it has been reasonably maintained. The best time to make repairs is in the fall when the surface is cool but over 40 degrees and the cracks are wide open, giving you a better seal once the asphalt expands with the summer heat.
Prepare the Area
While repair techniques vary depending on the type of damage, always begin by removing vegetation and thoroughly cleaning the area to be repaired.
• Use a screwdriver to remove dirt and plant life from cracks, then follow up with a wire brush to clean the sides.
• For larger areas, begin by sweeping with a stiff-bristled broom.
• Clean oil spots with a driveway cleaning solution or detergent and hot water.
• Once debris has been removed, hose the area down and allow to dry completely before beginning repairs. It’s important not to seal moisture under the newly restored surface.
Asphalt damage is usually in the form of holes or cracks. Here are some guidelines for repairing each one:
To repair holes:
• Dig to the bottom of the hole. If necessary, smooth the edges to a uniform shape with a cold chisel and hammer, then use a shop vacuum to remove the debris.
• If the hole is more than four inches deep, fill with gravel or sand to bring it up to a four-inch depth.
• Fill the hole with approximately one half inch of coarse aggregate filler and tamp it down. Continue adding layers and tamping down until you have overfilled the hole by about one to two inches.
• Place a sheet of plywood on the repaired area and use the weight of your car to make sure it is well compacted.
The fastest and easiest way to repair cracks — sometimes referred to as alligator cracks — is to use joint asphalt crack repair tape. While it’s important to follow manufacturer’s instructions, here is a general overview for using repair tape:
• Using a propane torch, apply heat to the pavement.
• Peel the white release paper and press the tape down over the beginning of the crack.
• Continue to remove the paper as you position the tape and apply pressure over the crack until the entire gap is covered.
• Using the propane torch consistently, move the flame over the tape, applying heat directly to the product. Use caution not to apply an excessive amount of heat.
The compound melts into the surface, creating a permanent bond. It can be sealed or made available to traffic within minutes.
Once your repairs are made, check the instructions to determine appropriate drying time and seal the driveway using a squeegee applicator.
Regularly repairing cracks and holes, maintaining a proper seal and keeping your driveway clean are important aspects of a regular maintenance program. With proper care, you can expect your asphalt drive to remain serviceable and visually appealing for the next 20 years.
Scott Huntington is a writer and DIY enthusiast from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington