Be it harsh winter weather or intense summer sun, asphalt driveways take a beating from Mother Nature. UV, moisture and freeze-thaw cycles cause cracks, exposing the aggregate and deteriorating the binders that hold your driveway together. That’s why it’s important to repair driveway cracks or potholes and apply driveway sealer on a regular basis to protect it.
Repairing and sealing your driveway is simple when you’re geared up with the tools, products and know-how that make for a winning finish. Here’s how to repair and refresh your asphalt driveway to protect and preserve this hardworking surface.
Driveway Patching and filling
Patching and filling asphalt driveway cracks enhances driveway durability by keeping water out and preventing erosion. You’ll want to tackle this part of your driveway rehab well before you start the sealing process, as filling material needs plenty of time to cure. The ideal time to do this part of the repair is the fall, but getting started now allows you to catch and correct more recent damage caused by the last of winter’s snow and rain. Just be attentive to the curing time your asphalt patching product requires, and plan your next driveway repair weekend accordingly.
When shopping for the patching product you’ll use, remember that the more solids it contains (like asphalt, polymers and coal tar) the better the quality and more lasting and effective the results. Options include hot-applied sealers (get out your propane torch) and trowel-applied products.
Sealing Your Asphalt Driveway
A fresh finish for your asphalt driveway should be on your to-do list every few years. Along with winter weather extremes, the surface takes a beating from UV rays and oxygen in the air. A thin coat of a quality asphalt sealer  shields the driveway from everyday elements and helps prevent the crumbling and cracks that can lead to bigger repair issues.
After you’ve patched and filled cracks in the driveway and allowed time for the repairs to cure, prepare for the re-sealing run when the weather forecast is rain-free with daily temps of at least 50 degrees. Thoroughly wash the asphalt surface, using oil cleaner for stubborn oil stains and applying a mixture of dishwashing detergent and water to the entire surface using a stiff-bristled brush. You can also use a pressure washer  for this deep-cleaning step.
Once the driveway is completely dry, prepare your sealant as directed and apply using a squeegee, roller or broom. Work in strokes parallel to the house, and allow the sealant to dry according to manufacturer instructions. Then come back for another application lap, this time working in passes that run perpendicular to the house. Once the finish has dried, you’ll have a great-looking, hardworking driveway to come home to.
Driveway maintenance varies depending on the climate and year-to-year weather changes where you live, so stay alert to driveway surface condition so that Mother Nature’s whims don’t overtake your efforts. Sealing and repairing the driveways on a regular basis is the best way to make sure this surface can stand up for many years to come.