Should You Repair The Cracks In Your Asphalt Drive?

Cracks in your asphalt drive aren't just unattractive, the may also indicate a more severe underlying problem. Before using a DIY product to attempt fixing the cracks, you need to find out the initial cause so you can avoid more problems later on.

Find the Underlying Cause

There's no single cause for all asphalt cracks, but you can usually narrow down the cause by examining your drive. Common causes include

  • Age. Older driveways are more likely to develop stress cracks as the asphalt material breaks down. You can patch these cracks as they occur, but eventually the driveway will need to be resurfaced or replaced.

  • Stress cracks. These cracks generally appear on newer driveways when the base wasn't properly installed and leveled. As the base material settles, the drive cracks. Often, it appears as a series of cracks over the entire unstable area. Although you can fill these cracks, it won't solve the problem and the cracks will eventually return. If you suspect the base and substrate materials to be at fault, it's best to have it repaired by a paving company.

  • Tree roots. The roots from trees growing near the drive may lift and apply pressure to the underside of the asphalt, resulting in cracks. Installing a root barrier near the driveway can prevent this problem before it occurs. Also, make sure trees are properly watered so the roots don't lift to the surface. You can fill these cracks, but they may return depending on the tree's growth.

Filling the Cracks

If you opt to fill the cracks, you need to use the right material. For small cracks, usually those no more than ¾ to 1 inch wide, there are pourable fillers that you squeeze right into the crack, much like glue. For wider cracks, you will need to use a thicker filler that is applied with a trowel. Both fillers contain epoxies, which helps them adhere to the surrounding asphalt and ensures they expand and contract with temperature changes.

The cracks need to be clean if you want the filler to stay in place. Remove any invading weeds and sweep out the dirt. After filling the crack with the filler, scrape off the excess with a trowel or putty knife so it's flush with the surrounding drive.

If you have larger cracks or holes, DIY filler won't be sufficient to solve the problem. A pavement contractor must cut out the damaged area and then refill it with fresh asphalt. They usually use a cold-process patch, which provides a quick fix. You can also have the entire driveway resurfaced at this time so it looks like new again.