When it comes to driveway materials, asphalt is a great choice. It’s flexible and more affordable than concrete. That said, it does need repair and maintenance to continue looking and performing its best.
If it’s time to repair your asphalt driveway, you’re probably wondering what to expect. What are the steps? Should you DIY it or hire a professional for help?
At Betz Works, we’ve provided quality paving services to residents of Santa Cruz, California for over 30 years, so we know what it takes to repair and maintain asphalt driveways.
In this blog, we share our step-by-step asphalt repair guide.
- To repair damaged asphalt, prepare the driveway surface by removing vegetation and sweeping and power-washing the surface, then fix the driveway according to what kind of damage is present.
- Before you spend time and money repairing your driveway, ensure the damage can be repaired and that the driveway doesn’t need to be replaced.
- Contact a professional paving contractor like Betz Works for extensive driveway repairs or replacements.
Before You Get Started
Before spending time and money on asphalt repair, determine whether a repair is really what you need or if it’s time to replace your asphalt driveway. Here’s how to know which choice is right for you:
Repair asphalt if…
- The driveway is less than 20-30 years old.
- The driveway still has a solid aggregate base.
- The driveway surface is still level & properly graded.
- The driveway is stable, and any cracks present are hairline.
- Less than 25% of the driveway is in poor condition.
Replace the asphalt if…
- The driveway is more than 30 years old.
- It has large cracks that will be difficult to fill.
- More than 25% of the driveway is in poor condition.
- The driveway has a poor-quality, unstable base.
- The driveway surface is not level.
If your driveway meets the “replacement” criteria, you should decide if you will DIY the job or contact a professional.
We recommend hiring a professional asphalt paver for all driveway replacements and any driveway repair involving serious reconstruction, large cracks, or an unstable surface. If the damage to your driveway is minimal, you can repair the asphalt on your own.
If you decide to take that route, you’ll need the proper tools, including a crack filler, scrub brush, resurfacing material, a drill with a mixer tool, and a putty knife.
We’ll discuss the steps to repair your driveway in the next section.
How to Repair an Asphalt Driveway
1. Prepare the driveway for repairs
Before you get to work on your driveway, you’ll need to prepare it for the work you plan to do.
Usually, this involves cleaning the intended repair area and removing all dust, debris, vegetation, water, or materials that will make it difficult for the resurfacing materials to adhere correctly to the asphalt that’s already there.
Here are a few driveway preparation tips:
- Use a stiff-bristled broom to sweep the repair areas.
- Use a hose or pressure washer to clean the surface thoroughly. After washing, allow the asphalt surface to dry for at least 24 hours before you begin repairs.
- Use a gardening hoe to remove vegetation from cracks, potholes, and sinkholes.
2. Repair the driveway
How you repair your driveway depends on what kind of issues are present. Here’s a breakdown:
The Problem: Oxidation
Oxidation causes faded, gray patches of asphalt that stand out from the rich, black color of the asphalt around it. Oxidation happens when asphalt is exposed to the sun and elements, which causes the binding agent within it to evaporate and become brittle.
The Fix: To repair oxidation, you’ll need to apply a fresh coat of sealant. Sealcoating refreshes the driveway’s appearance, reduces the appearance of oxidation, and provides a protective film that allows your asphalt surface to withstand the elements. For best results, hire a professional for sealcoating services or check out our guide to laying asphalt like a pro.
The Problem: Cracks and potholes
Over time, moisture from snow, rain, runoff, and spills seeps into unsealed asphalt patches and becomes trapped under the surface. During cold periods, this trapped moisture freezes, expands, and causes the asphalt surface to weaken and split.
While newer asphalt can usually tolerate this freeze-thaw cycle since its binding agents are still flexible and intact, older asphalt is prone to splitting and sinking, which causes potholes and large cracks.
The Fix: To repair cracks and potholes, prepare your driveway using the tips above.
Next, use a rented crack cleaning machine to clean all loose debris from driveway cracks and potholes.
If the cracks in your driveway are less than ½”, use a cold-pour crackfill mixture to repair them. If the cracks are 1” or less, you’ll need a hot, rubberized crackfill solution.
For cracks larger than 1”, contact a professional asphalt paving contractor.
The Problem: Large holes or depressions
If your driveway develops cracks or potholes that aren’t repaired quickly, they grow with time, creating even larger potholes and cracks. This is common in high-traffic driveway areas, where stress from vehicles and foot traffic is constant.
The Fix: To repair these issues, cut out the affected area, patch it, and sealcoat over it. While you can DIY this using a rented pavement saw, this is generally a repair that’s best suited for professionals.
If you plan to proceed with the DIY route, use the saw to cut out the section of affected concrete.
Next, use a leaf blower to remove loose debris from the area, and tamp the base surface with a hand tamper until it’s completely level. Add hot mix asphalt to the hole and tamp the surface until it’s level with the rest of the driveway surface. Repeat this process to repair potholes.
Allow the repaired area to cure for 24 hours, and then apply a layer of sealcoat to protect the patch.
The Problem: Asphalt that’s crumbling
If you notice that you’re sweeping rocks away as you’re clearing your driveway surface, you need to repair the crumbling areas so they don’t continue to wear away.
The Fix: To fix crumbling asphalt, you need to repave affected sections. While you can rent a mini infrared asphalt heater and do this yourself, hiring a professional to do it for you is usually much easier. In addition to streamlining the job, this is also the best way to make sure your asphalt doesn’t continue to crumble and degrade in the future.
Tips for Maintaining Your Driveway
The best way to prevent costly and time-consuming asphalt repairs is to maintain your driveway. Here are our top tips:
- Fill potholes and seal all cracks as soon as you notice them – regular maintenance is critical to avoid expensive repairs.
- Wash the driveway at least once a year to remove oil and grease that will discolor and degrade the driveway surface.
- Avoid salt and chemical de-icers, which can cause scaling.
- Install gutters and downspouts to direct runoff, prevent erosion, and keep standing water from gathering on your asphalt surface.
- Patch scaled or discolored areas of the driveway with color-matching compounds.
- Park cars, trucks, and trailers away from the edge of the driveway, which will help prevent the driveway’s edges from chipping or cracking prematurely.
- Use plastic shovels and plows to protect the driveway’s surface.
- Reseal your asphalt driveway every few years (check out our guide on how to do this).
- Prune tree roots near the driveway to prevent damage.
Do You Need an Asphalt Paving Contractor in Santa Cruz County? We’re Here for You!
If it’s time to repair or replace your asphalt driveway, our team is here to help. We provide asphalt paving services to customers in Santa Cruz, Capitola, Soquel, Aptos, Watsonville, the Central Coast, and Santa Clara County.
Ready to learn more about our services or how we can help you? Contact us to request an estimate today!
1. Can you put asphalt over old asphalt?
Yes. This process is called asphalt overlay or asphalt resurfacing. As long as the existing asphalt surface is structurally sound, it can act as a base for new asphalt.
2. Can you seal a crumbling asphalt driveway?
To fix crumbling asphalt, repave the affected surface and add a layer of sealant.
3. How can you fix a badly cracked asphalt driveway?
The best way to fix a cracked driveway is to hire a professional asphalt paving contractor for a comprehensive repair.
4. How much does professional asphalt driveway repair cost?
There’s no one-size-fits-all cost for asphalt driveway repair. The final cost will depend on the extent of the repair, the size of your driveway, and the time needed to pave and repair the surface. For a more detailed estimate, contact your local asphalt paving contractor.
5. What is the best season to repair an asphalt driveway?
Spring and summer are the best seasons to repair an asphalt driveway, since the temperatures are constant, and these seasons allow asphalt plenty of time to cure before winter.