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How can I Repair Cracked Asphalt?

By S. Mithra
Updated Jan 26, 2024
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Asphalt is a common, durable material that covers streets, driveways, allies, walkways, or parking lots. It is made of concrete mixed with sticky petroleum products that give it some flexibility to support a lot of weight. When your asphalt driveway or pathway shows small to medium cracks, you can easily repair them over a weekend. Timely repairs maintain the seal on the asphalt and will prolong the life of the pavement.

Cracked asphalt results from soil that has eroded, freezing nights followed by warm days, or stretching tree roots. Manageable cracks, around 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) wide, are mostly cosmetic. Over time, leaving many fissures in your asphalt will allow water to penetrate the seal and damage the asphalt's structure. If your driveway looks like a cracked mirror, with many connected fissures, a simple repair will not be effective. Demolition and repouring of asphalt is the only long-term solution.

To repair cracks, wait until the weather is warm and dry, as the malleable asphalt will adhere better to the patch material. Most mixes recommend application only with a temperature above 60° F (16° C). Allow two days to complete the patching process.

On the first day, prepare the pavement with a thorough cleaning. Dig out weeds, roots, rocks, sand, and other dirt with a weeding trowel, screwdriver, wire-bristle brush, or chisel. Dive as deeply into the crack as you can go. If there are some broken pieces of asphalt, remove these as well. With a high-pressure hose nozzle, spray water along the crack to drive all the loose debris out. Let this wet area dry overnight.

The next day, prepare the patch. Patching compound comes pre-mixed in tubs, just like wall spackle. For a small crack, apply one coat of paste with a trowel. The rubbery patch will flow into the crack and you can level the surface. This may dry in as little as a few hours. It probably won't be necessary to reseal the entire surface.

Larger cracks may need some sand as a base. Push damp sand deep into any cracks around 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) wide. Bring the sand up to within 1/4 inch (.6 cm) of the top. Now you can use the patching compound as before with a wide trowel. Sometimes it's called asphalt caulk or tar. Trowel the mixture flat. You'll probably want to re-seal the asphalt with an appropriate sealer after the patch has dried. This will prevent future cracks, as well.

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Discussion Comments
By anon289078 — On Sep 02, 2012

I have cracked old asphalt in front of my house and a leading into a walkway to my backyard. Is there anything affordable that doesn't involve ripping out the old asphalt that I can do to make it more presentable?

By titans62 — On Jul 12, 2011

The parking lot outside of the business I own has a few small potholes forming. I want to take care of them before they get any bigger and cause problems.

Can I use the same type of patching compound for the holes as I would use for cracks, or will I need something different? If so, what will I need, and where can I buy it? If anyone has dealt with this problem before or has any suggestions, please share them with me. It would be a great help. Thanks

By cardsfan27 — On Jul 11, 2011

Even if you make sure that you fill cracks and properly maintain your driveway, will you ever have to completely replace the material? It seems to me that repairing the asphalt cracks would work for a while, but there would eventually be enough old cracks that the entire driveway would need replaced.

Am I right on this?

By matthewc23 — On Jul 11, 2011

In my city, the street department recently went through a lot of the asphalt covered streets and put some type of tape looking material over the cracks.

I would have to assume it is a type of asphalt crack filler, but I'm curious what it is and how it works. It basically looks like a ribbon of black asphalt that has been put over the crack. I didn't see them putting the material down, though, so I'm not sure about the actual filling process.

Does anyone here have any idea what this might have been, or how it is applied?

By Emilski — On Jul 10, 2011

After an asphalt driveway or parking lot is poured, how long will the material usually last until it gets damaged enough to be replaced? I'm sure it depends on how much traffic it gets, but what would be the norm for a regular driveway?

We just loved into a house with a new driveway, and I am wondering when I should expect to have to do any repairs to the surface. Also, I think I have heard of material used for driveway sealing. How is this done, and how often?

By stl156 — On Jul 09, 2011

I would highly recommend following the advice in this article.

I made the mistake of not repairing my driveway soon enough, and ended up with a bill that was a lot more that if I would have taken a weekend to do the maintenance myself.

Since then I've gone out every year or two and filled in cracks that have formed. It really is as easy as the article makes it out to be, and is much cheaper than a full replacement.

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