Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Keeping Your Asphalt Driveway in Top Shape

Maintaining and repairing your driveway on a regular basis will help ensure many years of service. Fortunately most driveway maintenance is a job that most home owners can do themselves. Although not difficult, it can be messy when it comes to applying sealer. Be sure to wear old clothes and a pair of shoes that you can throw away when you are done.

The first step in maintaining your driveway is to see what problems you will need to repair. Take a slow walk across and down your driveway. If you see impressions left by car tires or tilting, or buckling or cracking, then you will need to call in an asphalt driveway contractor to rebuild the drive. Unless your driveway is very old and has been neglected, you'll probably see minor cracks, crumbling and small chuck holes. These problems can be repaired by the average do-it-yourselfer. If your driveway has large cracks and potholes, the repair materials will need to cure before seal coating. This may take several days or longer depending on the plan accordingly.

What to Buy

If you have cracks you will need to purchase crack filler which typically comes in a caulking tube or a pour bottle. Chuck holes require asphalt cold patch which comes in a bag similar to redi-mix concrete. To complete the job you will need a good sealer. Sealers usually are sold in a "Good" "Better" "Best" selection. Just like paint, it's best to purchase top-quality material...the job will last longer, look better, give better service and in the long run save you the time of having to re-do the job sooner.


  • Squeegee/broom for sealing Detergent
  • Trowel Masonry Chisel
  • Machinist's Hammer Stiff Bristle Broom
  • Garden Hose w/Pressure Nozzle Wire Brush
  • Oil Spot Primer Asphalt Driveway Cleaner
  • Gloves Shovel
  • Safety Glasses Tamper or 4"x4"x6'

Safety Precautions

When working with asphalt materials, avoid prolonged contact with skin and excessive breathing of fumes. When chipping or chiseling old blacktop wear safety glasses. Keep all materials away from high heat or open flames. Be sure to read all manufacturer's instructions.

Repairing Cracks

It's important that cracks be filled properly to prevent water from getting under the slab and causing more serious problems. If the crack is less than 1/2" wide it can be filled with crack filler. Anything over 1/2" must be filled with asphalt cold patch. The most important thing to remember when you are repairing cracks is that the crack must be completely cleaned or the repair will not hold. For narrow cracks, sweep out all the dust and dirt that you can. You may need to use an old screw driver and wire brush to loosen. Then use your garden hose and spray nozzle to "blast" away any dirt that remains deep in the crack. Be sure to wear safety glasses when doing this job.

If any area being repaired is covered with oil or grease drippings it must be scrubbed with a driveway cleaning agent and thoroughly rinsed. Cracks over 1" also need to be thoroughly cleaned and then filled with asphalt cold patch.

Pot Holes

Pot holes are repaired with asphalt cold patch which is a heavy duty stone and asphalt mix. First dig out any loose material and dirt down to a solid base. Then undercut the edges so they slope in slightly to provide a "key" for the patching material. Next clean all dust and debris from the hole and surrounding areas. Clean off any oil or grease that might be surrounding the hole. If the hole is very deep it should be filled within 4" of the top with gravel. Be sure to tamp the gravel before filling the hole with patch. Apply 2" of cold patch and tamp, then apply the remaining 2" and tamp. Now add enough material to form a slight mound and tamp again. The patch should be rolled which can be done by placing an old piece of plywood over the area and then driving over the plywood slowly back and forth. If you have repaired any major holes with asphalt cold sealer, you will have to allow the patch to cure before sealing. This typically would be 12 to 36 hours, although some products take as long as 30 days. Check the manufacturer's label.

Seal Coating

After all crack and pothole repairs have cured, it's time to seal your driveway. The entire driveway surface must be clean before you apply sealer. This includes dust, dirt, grease, oil, and debris. Sweep the driveway. Remove grease and oil spots with cleaner and detergent. Rinse thoroughly and squeegee water from any puddle spots. Allow the driveway to dry.

Using the squeegee/broom, apply the sealer to a small area at a time. Don't spread the sealer to thinly. Allow small cracks and weathered areas to "drink" the sealer. If you have a sloped area, you can sprinkle the area with sand before the sealer dries for better traction. Allow the sealer to cure according to the manufacturerís instructions. Block the end of the driveway with the empty cans (add water to keep them from blowing away). You may want to rope off the sides too to keep anyone from walking across the area until it dries. If you have house pets you will want to keep them away or inside the house or you might end up with dog prints across your carpet!

Tips From the Pros

  • Prior to sealer application, turn buckets upside down to help aid in the ease of mixing.
  • Beat the heat by working in the early morning hours.
  • Brush sealer in a side to side motion starting from your home and working toward the street.
  • Check your driveway surface monthly. Small problems should be corrected quickly to avoid costly repair.

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