Did you know that a driveway can be one of the most prominent features of your front yard? We want our home’s curb appeal to make a great first impression and that starts with a well-maintained driveway. A common choice for homeowners, especially in areas with freeze and thaw cycles or snow, is an asphalt driveway.
What is Asphalt?
Asphalt is a mixture of aggregates which includes stone, gravel, sand, and bitumen, a sticky, black, semi-solid form of petroleum material that holds the mixture together. Asphalt is primarily used for construction and paving of roads, parking lots, and walk ways.
Why Does Asphalt Crack?
Unfortunately, mother nature is tough on asphalt. Although asphalt is more flexible than concrete, asphalt driveways require maintenance every 3-5 years. If your driveway is not draining properly, water gets into the gravel base which produces cracking during freeze and thaw periods. As driveways age and deteriorate, you may see them start to crack or you may have major settling causing pot holes. Another common issue is the alligatoring effect, which is where the glaze from a sealcoat cracks and looks similar to alligator scales or pottery. Luckily, this is simply cosmetic in nature and does not affect the structural integrity of the driveway.
When Is It Time to Resurface Your Driveway?
You may need to resurface your driveway if you have:
A group of thin cracks that resemble alligator scales.
A line or split on the surface ranging from simple, minor imperfections from 1/8” to ½” wide to large cracks that involve the base.
Sloping areas or bumps in certain places.
Potholes or Bird Baths
Potholes in the asphalt are holes usually 1”-2” deep or more.
Large puddles of pooling water are caused by bad draining systems that eat away at your driveway and seep into the ground beneath it.
Asphalt driveways usually last up to 20 years before needing to be replaced. If you can’t remember when your driveway was installed or it’s beginning to show signs of major damage, it’s probably time to get your driveway re-done.
Resurfacing VS Sealcoating: What's the Difference?
What is Resurfacing?
Resurfacing your asphalt driveway means laying a new layer or coat of asphalt over your existing layer. This usually adds 1”-2” of asphalt and corrects structural damage.
What is Sealcoating?
Used primarily for preventative measures, sealcoating restores the rich color of new asphalt, protects asphalt from the sun, and fills minor imperfections in the driveway, but doesn’t repair or restructure the driveway.
What are the Benefits of Resurfacing Your Asphalt Driveway?
Pot holes are a safety hazard and are hard on your vehicle.
Maintain the Aesthetics of the Driveway
Homeowners choose asphalt for its esthetic value and resurfacing rejuvenates your driveways appearance.
Extend the Life of the Driveway
Resurfacing reinforces your asphalt driveway by repairing cracks and other breaks in the pavement, which improves the overall look and structure of the driveway.
To Prevent Over-sealing
Over-sealing your drivewaycan result in extensive cracking on the surface. Resurfacing is a good alternative.
Save Time and Money
Resurfacing prevents deep cracks and depressions that require extensive and expensive repairs.
How to Resurface Your Asphalt Driveway
There are three important steps to resurface your asphalt driveway. First, you need to clean the driveway removing all dirt, debris, algae, and weeds. You'll also need to repair all cracks and potholes before being able to apply the resurfacer. The resurfacer is applied with a driveway coat brush and worked in a continual back and forth pattern until the whole driveway is coated. See below for more details!
Step 1: Clean the Driveway
Remove dirt, debris, algae, and weeds using a garden hose or shovel. Loosen debris in cracks with a broom. Use a leaf blower or utility broom to further clear off the surface of the driveway.
Once the driveway is free of dirt, algae, and debris, use a cleaning solution and water to scrub the remaining dirt off the driveway. Set for a few minutes then rinse with water using the pressure washer or hose. Allow the driveway to completely dry before making any repairs. This usually takes about 24 hours.
Step 2: Repair
Now that your driveway is clean, it’s time to repair your driveway by filling all cracks and potholes. Narrow cracks can be filled using a crack filler and smoothed out using your putty knife. Potholes can be filled with a pothole patch material. Pour the material into the pothole and spread it flat and smooth with your putty knife or a trowel. Then use a tamper to pound the patch material and flatten it out. Wash oil spots with a degreaser and apply a primer if necessary.
Step 3: Resurface
Your resurfacer should be mixed beforehand with a drill and mixing tool or by hand using a wooden stick. Next, use your 3” wide paint brush to apply the resurfacer along all the edges.
Pour the resurfacer in a line across the width of the driveway. Spread this out evenly with the driveway coater brush, and move in a continuous back and forth pattern. Working with the wet edge, at the end of each path make a turn, stop, and re-start in the other direction.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
- Utility broom
- Driveway Coater Brush
- Leaf blower
- Garden hose or pressure washer
- Putty Knife
- Mixing tool
- Asphalt crack filler
- 3” wide paint brush
- Pothole patch
Helpful Hints for Resurfacing Your Asphalt Driveway
- Once the whole driveway is coated, stake off the driveway with string or tape to keep everyone off the surface.
- Make sure no rain is in the forecast and don’t drive on it for 24 hours.
- Be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions and recommendations on spread rate or number of coats.
- It’s helpful to wear old shoes and clothing that you won’t mind throwing away afterward.
- Work on a cooler day. It will slow the dry time and make sure you have more time to spread the material smoothly.
- If your asphalt is showing signs of major settling or age, it may be best to contact your local pro first.
With three DIY steps, your driveway will be looking brand new! Be the envy of your neighbors and get your driveway back to tip-top shape.