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The Ultimate Guide to Fixing Cracks in Your Asphalt Driveway

Having an asphalt driveway is convenient, but cracks can quickly become an unsightly eyesore. Over time, driveways naturally develop cracks due to weathering, usage, and freeze-thaw cycles. Left unrepaired, those cracks allow water penetration which can severely undermine the driveway’s structural integrity. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about repairing cracks in your asphalt driveway to maintain its appearance and longevity. Follow these steps, and you’ll have a smooth, pristine driveway in no time!

Repair Tips For Cracked Asphalt Driveways

What Causes Cracks in Asphalt Driveways?

Asphalt driveways can develop cracks for a variety of reasons. Temperature fluctuations cause the asphalt to expand and contract, leading to stress cracks over time. Water penetration from rain or snowmelt can also undermine the driveway base, causing the surface to sink and crack. Heavy vehicle loads and tree roots growing under the driveway can further contribute to cracking.  

Types of Cracks in Asphalt and Their Severity

Not all cracks are created equal. Hairline cracks are very thin and don’t pose a major threat initially. Wider cracks between 1/4-1/2 inch are more concerning as they allow more water penetration. Alligator cracks form an interconnected pattern resembling alligator hide and indicate potential structural failure. Potholes are essentially areas where the surface has broken away completely, leaving a hole. 

When Is It Time to Repair Driveway Cracks?

It’s best to repair cracks as soon as they appear to prevent further damage. However, cracks less than 1/4 inch wide can be monitored initially before repair is absolutely necessary. Any crack wider than 1/2 inch should be repaired promptly to protect the driveway’s integrity. Potholes and alligator cracks also need immediate repair.

What Tools and Materials Are Needed?

For small crack repair, you’ll need a crack filler product designed for asphalt, a caulking gun or squeegee tool to apply it, and a stiff broom or compressed air to clean out cracks. For larger cracks/holes, a cold asphalt patch compound is needed along with a trowel or putty knife to apply it. Safety equipment like gloves and eye protection is also recommended.

How to Prepare the Driveway

The driveway surface needs to be clean and dry before starting any repairs. Use a stiff broom, leaf blower, or compressed air to remove any loose debris, vegetation, or oil stains from the cracks and surrounding areas. If weeds, moss, or dirt are firmly packed in cracks, use a screwdriver or putty knife to pry them out completely.

Using a Crack Filler for Smaller Cracks

For tight, hairline to 1/2-inch wide cracks, a pourable or caulk-able crack filler product is ideal. These are usually rubberized products that remain flexible. Apply the filler with a caulking gun or squeegee tool, overfilling the crack slightly. Then use a putty knife or trowel to smooth and blend it into the surrounding driveway surface.  

Patching Larger Cracks and Holes  

Larger cracks over 1/2 inch wide and potholes require a thicker, trowelable asphalt patching compound. These are usually pourable for cracks and trowelable for holes. The area should be swept clean and a binding liquid applied if recommended by the product instructions. Then tamp or trowel the patching material firmly into the crack/hole, compacting it well until level with the existing driveway surface.

Tips for Applying Crack Filler/Patching Material

Always use crack filler products designed specifically for asphalt driveways, never concrete caulk. Follow manufacturer instructions closely regarding ambient and surface temperature requirements. Apply enough material to overfill the crack slightly as it will compact down some. For best results, apply a second coat once the first has initially cured per product instructions.

Allowing Crack Filler or Patch to Cure Properly

Depending on the product used and weather conditions, crack fillers and patches typically need 24-48 hours to fully cure. Check product instructions, as some may require several days or weeks before vehicles can be parked on the area. Rain during curing can wash away or weaken the materials, so check the weather and don’t apply if rain is forecasted within cure time window.  

Maintaining Your Repaired Asphalt Driveway

Once repaired, proper maintenance will extend your driveway’s life. Sealcoating every 2-3 years protects from UV damage, water penetration, and freeze-thaw cycles. Also refill any new cracks as soon as they appear using these same techniques. With regular crack filling and sealcoating, your asphalt driveway can last for decades.

Key Things to Remember : Repair Tips For Cracked Asphalt Driveways

  • Repair cracks promptly before they worsen 
    – For small cracks, use a pourable or caulk-able crack filler
    – For larger cracks/holes, use a trowelable cold asphalt patch
    – Always clean and dry the area thoroughly before applying product
    – Follow product instructions closely for application and cure times
    – Maintain driveway with crack repairs and sealcoating every 2-3 years

 

FAQs

Q: What are some common causes of cracks in asphalt driveways?

A: Cracks in asphalt driveways can be caused by factors such as age, weather conditions, heavy vehicles, tree roots, poor installation, or lack of maintenance.

Q: How can I repair cracks in my asphalt driveway?

A: To repair cracks in your asphalt driveway, you can use asphalt crack filler, apply a second coat if needed, and then tamp it down to ensure a smooth and level surface.

Q: What is the best way to patch a pothole in an asphalt driveway?

A: The best way to patch a pothole in an asphalt driveway is to clean the area, fill it with patch filler, tamp it down, and then apply a top coat to ensure a durable repair.

Q: Why is it important to check the weather before repairing asphalt cracks?

A: It is important to check the weather before repairing asphalt cracks because extreme temperatures or moisture can affect the effectiveness of the repair materials and techniques.

Q: How often should I apply a second coat when repairing asphalt cracks?

A: You should apply a second coat when repairing asphalt cracks if the first coat does not completely fill the crack, ensuring a long-lasting and proper repair.

Q: Can I prevent cracks in my asphalt driveway from growing larger?

A: Yes, you can prevent cracks in your asphalt driveway from growing larger by filling them promptly with asphalt crack filler and maintaining the surface to prevent further damage.

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