How to Repair Your Asphalt Driveway

With some basic tools and supplies like a shovel and asphalt patch compound, you can easily repair cracks and potholes in just a few hours. Although the repairs are usually fast, you do need to plan the repairs carefully to prevent delays. Reading through the process of prepping and repairing asphalt is the simplest way to begin planning your project.

Prep for Repairs

The weather is an important factor when working with asphalt. Most patch compounds work best when temperatures are above freezing, but temperature recommendations can vary by brand. Read the package to find the specific temperature recommendations required for your product. Reschedule your repairs if rain is in the forecast, and begin your repairs earlier in the day to allow plenty of time for the project.

You should also prep your driveway the day before you begin repairs. Begin by removing weeds growing through cracks, and clean damaged areas to remove dust and debris. To clean asphalt, sweep away larger debris with a stiff-bristled broom, and flush the area with a water hose to remove remaining dust and small debris. Allow the area to dry before overnight.

Repairing Cracks

To repair cracked asphalt, prepare your patch compound according to the directions on the packaging. Mix slightly more compound that you need to avoid running out mid-repair. Fill the crack with sand to 1/4-inch of the top, and smooth the sand with a trowel to create an even, flat surface. Pack your prepared patch compound into the crack to fill the remaining 1/4 inch, using a trowel to pack the asphalt into the damaged area as needed.

When the crack is filled, smooth the compound so it is level and even with the surrounding surfaces. Allow the compound to cure before walking or driving on it. Curing times are typically listed on the patch compound packaging, but the average wait time is about three hours.

Pothole Repairs

To repair a pothole, clean the area and prepare your patch compound. Fill the hole with gravel or sand, leaving the top 4 inches of the hole uncovered. If the hole is larger than a few inches wide, spread a layer of tack over the gravel using a tack broom. Tack and tack brooms are available at home improvement stores. Apply the tack in an even layer using the tack broom, and let the tack cure for at least 15 minutes before applying the patch compound.

Apply the patch compound in layers that are about an inch thick. Pack each layer into the hole carefully using a hand tamp, and use a field rake to smooth each layer after packing it. If you don’t have a hand tamp, use a hammer to pack the patch compound into the hole, or consider renting a packing machine to do the job.

Renting a packing machine does add to the cost of driveway repairs, but machine packing asphalt is often faster and creates a stronger finished surface. After adding the final layer of patch compound, smooth the compound until it is even with the surrounding surfaces. Give the patch compound plenty of time to cure before using your driveway. Most products cure within a few hours, but the process may be slower on very hot days, or when the weather is humid.

Regular Maintenance

Regular driveway maintenance is an easy way to prevent damage. If your driveway isn’t sealed, apply an asphalt sealant after the repaired areas are fully cured. Sealant prevents damage caused by water and oxidation, but must be applied every two to five years. After applying sealant, you are ready to begin a regular maintenance routine.

Cleaning your driveway regularly is a simple, but can prevent damage that leads to cracks and potholes. Plan to sweep your driveway monthly to remove gravel and debris, and wash the driveway with detergent and water annually.

Although asphalt repairs are simple, regular maintenance is a must for a smoother, longer-lasting asphalt driveway. Begin your maintenance routine as soon as your driveway is 12 months old, or right after finishing repairs if you have an older drive.

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