Guide to Driveway Repair

Guide to Driveway Repair

Your driveway is the first thing people notice on your property. So, it's a matter of making a good first impression and also preserving your asphalt. Annual maintenance will ensure a long life for your driveway and save a significant amount you may have to invest in repairs if you don’t take care of it. If you're wondering how to start, here's a simple guide that can help.

How to Analyze the Damage

First, you will have to look for visible damages.

Look for Cracks

These cracks don't break or separate the surface of the driveways at first. You will notice the cracks covered in vegetation like weeds. These unwanted plants will damage the asphalt surface further by widening the cracks. If you don't know where to look for cracks, start with the water test.

Clean up driveway stains of grease, oil, or saltPerform a Water Test

Begin with a well-used area. When you pour water, it must not seep through the surface; it should bead up. If it does disappear, you have your sign: it's time to get the crack repaired before it worsens. If you keep checking for damages which are in early stages, your driveway will need minor fixes and only a small amount of attention.

Is Your Seal Coat Fading?

Apart from the cracks, you must also pay attention to the seal coat. When the seal coating is fading, you will see the crushed stone exposed, and the surface will be grey instead of black. This type of wear and tear is natural and a hint for you to seal coat your asphalt surface. It’s like moisturizing dry skin: left untreated, dry skin can dry out and crack.  Same with asphalt. It’s best to treat it right away to prevent damage.

Are There Stains?

It's also essential to keep checking for stains on the surface, too. Any materials made of brackish or salt components, oil, grease, etc. will cause damages to the seal coat of your driveway.

Is Annual Repair Necessary?

If your blacktop is made of a natural material, asphalt, then yes! Since it is flexible many people choose asphalt over concrete for driveways. It's also cost-effective and long-lasting. When it is exposed to moisture, heat or cold, it expands or contracts.

You will notice a pattern every summer and winter. During winters, asphalt is affected by freeze-thaw cycle. Asphalt is mostly eroded during summers. Natural disasters like earthquakes as well as uprooted plants and trees could damage the pavement.

The damages start with cracks, and if you leave them alone, they could turn into potholes. If you maintain your driveway and schedule annual repair, you might protect it for years to come. Imagine being proactive and fixing the damages while they are minor. You'll save hundreds of dollars on repairs.

What's the Best Time to Repair Your Driveway?

Sealed and protected asphalt before and after sealingThis guide's main aim is to help you repair your driveway on your own — a major DIY project to save you money and give longevity to your driveway. Once your analysis is done, you can create your maintenance plan.

While you might decide to work on the fixes during your holiday, you have to look up the weather report before you actually start the repair. Asphalt can be crack-filled to temperatures around freezing, but can only be sealcoated down to 14°C or so, or it won’t cure properly.

Fill cracks every time you notice any forming. Do not wait until they turn into potholes.

Always use superior quality asphalt driveway sealer. Using the best quality will protect the surface for around three years. Commercial grade asphalt sealants are perfectly suitable for your personal driveways. You might think that only airports, malls, and large structures need commercial-grade materials to repair their driveways because of the heavy traffic. Your driveway will benefit from high quality sealcoat too.

How Long is the Cure Time?

Depending on the temperature, the seal coating will dry within two days or 36 hours. If the weather is dry and warm, you can wait for at least ten hours before you start driving on the newly seal coated asphalt surface.

Keep in mind that if you compromise with the quality of the seal coating, it might take five to six days for the surface to drive.

Repairing the Driveway: Step-By-Step Guide to DIY

When you have sunny weather, it's a perfect day to repair your driveway and transform the exterior of your property. Don't forget to wear appropriate clothing for the job, like old clothes that you won't mind getting dirty.

Step 1: Cleaning The Surface

You may have to use a pressure washer or wire brush to remove all the debris. Pressure washing will make your surface wet; you'll have to wait for it to dry before continuing to the other steps.

Carefully clear all weeds, dust, and gravel from the cracks. There's a risk of regrowth if the weeds are left out in the cracks. There are many effective weed killers on the market or white vinegar can also do an adequate job. It's also important to get rid of any oil, grease, or fuel stains from the asphalt. The greasy surface will compromise the sealant quality.

Step 2: Filling Cracks

Cracks and potholes must be treated differently though both surfaces need asphalt seal coat. The process is not time-consuming as long as you have all the materials ready to use. For filling the cracks, there are two kinds of crack filler. The first is cold pour liquid crackfill. This is great for smaller cracks, as it works for small cracks that are just forming. Simply pour it in to the crack, and smooth over with a squeegee.

If the crack is wider than 5 cms/half an inch, you will need hot melted rubber to fill the crack.

Heat the rubberized brick of crack-filler in a melter or kettle. If you are using Action Seal's Crack Fill, you can use a direct-fire kettle or an oil-jacketed melter. Then either pour the hot crackfill into a pour pot to fill the cracks, or if you have an all-in-one machine like the RynoWorx Crack Repair Melter Applicators, you can simply apply the crackfiller right from the machine as you walk.

Low-cost crack fill can be used in an oil-jacketed machine only, hence not advisable.

Apply the melted crack filler over all the cracks carefully. For wider cracks, fill it with sand or gravel before filling the cracks. Let it dry for a couple of hours, and then apply sealcoat.

Asphalt crack before and after repair

Step 3: Filling Potholes

If you're fixing a pothole, you will need gravel or sand to fill it first. Cleaning edges thoroughly before this task is extremely crucial. Otherwise, all your effort will be wasted. Once you are done, pour the asphalt patch in the pothole. Our cold patch asphalt repair product will fill a hole one-inch-deep by four feet in diameter.

Ensure there are no gaps when you fill the pothole. You can add a little patch, heaping it up slightly above the surface of the asphalt. Then take a piece of plywood and oil it on one side. Place the oiled-side of the plywood on the mound. Drive your car over the wood to tamp down the crack filler/asphalt patch.

Step 4: Seal the Blacktop and Revamp

When you are done filling the surface, seal the patch. This will give an additional layer of protection and also give a bright new look to your driveway.

  • Stir the asphalt sealer and ensure the consistency resembles a thick soup.
  • You can use an asphalt sprayer to spray the driveway.
  • Start at the edges using a fine tip and switch to a wider tip for the rest of the area.
  • Applying sealer with a broomIf you're applying by hand, pour a one-foot-wide puddle of sealer across the top of the driveway. 
    • Use your asphalt squeegee to spread the sealer. The right way to spread is push-and-pull motion. It should easily disperse three to four feet.
    • If you're adding sand, sprinkle it evenly without adding too much. This will improve the grip of the driveway surface.
  • Important Tip: Use two thin coats of sealer instead of one thick coat, allowing the first coat to dry for several hours before applying the second one.
  • Seal the area with caution tape so no one tries to drive or walk on the surface. Let it dry for at least four hours.
  • Avoid walking on the sealed surface for at least four hours and eight hours before driving. Leave it undisturbed overnight to avoid trampling or damaging the surface.

Additional Tips

Use a spray system for a large driveway or you're running short on time. A sprayer is four times as fast as sealing by hand and uses less sealer.

Use a squeegee if you are on a budget. There's no extra space to be sealed, and the area is small.

The best way to maintain your driveway is to keep an eye out for hairline cracks that can be fixed with sealer. Always check your driveway after rain and after the snow melts. Do not let the weeds grow out of cracks in the asphalt surface. If you notice the signs of a first crack or a hairline crack, follow the instructions on using the cold patch asphalt repair.

Have questions about your driveway repair project? Call our experts toll-free at (855) 554-4386 or use the form below to get expert advice.

Related: How To Extend The Life of Your Home's Driveway.

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