How to Repair an Asphalt Driveway

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Sealing a driveway doesn't significantly prolong its life, but promptly filling cracks and holes and cleaning up oil spills do. Although you would typically handle fixes in the summer when you apply sealer, winter is the best time to fill cracks--and when it comes to most driveway repairs, there's no time like the present.

Things You'll Need

  • Cold-patch Blacktop
  • Driveway Cleaner
  • Oil-spot Primer
  • Air Compressor Or Garden Hose With Nozzle
  • Broom
  • Brush Or Squeegee Applicator
  • Iron Rake
  • Shovel Or Trowel
  • Stiff Broom
  • Putty Knife
  • Acrylic Driveway Sealer Or Filler
  • Caulking Gun
  • Scrap Plywood
  • Shop Vacuum
  • Tamper Or 4-by-4
  • Rubberized asphalt-emulsion crack filler
  • Ice chipper, lawn-edging tool or spade

Use an ice chipper, a lawn-edging tool or a spade to scrape grass or weeds off the driveway and out of cracks.

Remove any loose asphalt from damaged or cracked areas with a blast of water from a garden hose or with compressed air.

Brush off all debris with a broom.

Scrub the driveway with diluted driveway cleaner to remove all dirt and oil film. Repeat as necessary to remove oil stains, and apply an oil-spot primer on any remaining stains.

Hose the driveway with as much pressure as possible. Start on the uphill and rinse toward the sides.

Use a shop vacuum to remove all loose debris from cracks. These must be very clean and dry before filling.

Let the driveway dry thoroughly before moving to the next step.

For cracks 1/8 to 1/2 inch (3 to 12 mm) wide, use rubberized asphalt-emulsion crack filler, applied with a caulking gun or poured. Avoid getting the filler on the surface. Smooth it with a putty knife.

For a very wide crack or pothole, shovel in packaged cold-patch blacktop, leveling large areas with an iron rake. Compact the material with a rented tamper or the end of a 4-by-4. Add more material until the hole is slightly overfilled. Cover it with scrap plywood and drive over it.

Mist the driveway with water. Then pour a ribbon of acrylic driveway sealer or filler 1 foot (30 cm) wide across the driveway. Spread the strip to a width of 3 to 4 feet (about 1 m) with a brush or squeegee applicator.

Remove all excess sealer, using the brush or squeegee and pulling toward you. Work your way down the driveway.

Tips & Warnings

  • Undercut the edges of a pothole with a cold chisel and mason's hammer.
  • For cracks more than 1/2 inch (12 mm) wide, stuff in a nonporous foam backer rod until the crack is only as deep as it is wide.
  • Wear eye protection such as goggles when cleaning, chiseling or hosing the driveway.

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